Dan and his stepfather-to-be go on a hike in the woods to bond.
Dan has endured a revolving door of maternal boyfriends ever since his father left, counting on his mother's poor track record to end things before they got too serious. But when new beau Hank comes over for dinner and announces their engagement, Dan starts to panic. Dan's mother arranges for the two guys to go on a survivalist camping trip so they'll get to know each other, and indoor kid Dan wants nothing to do with it. With his friend Charlie tagging along, Dan plans a deluge of pranks to scare Hank off for good. The premise has been grist for many a previous comedy mill, and readers will likely be able to see every plot development a mile away—and they do feel miles away. Vomit jokes and bathroom humor abound, and while they may have a place in a book for middle schoolers, the frank language and sexuality here make this a teen book with a 12-year-old’s sense of humor. Dan himself feels like a slightly older Greg Heffley, oozing self-interest, which makes it hard for readers to care about the transformation the camping trip will inevitably bring about.
Both derivative and pandering. (Fiction. 12-16)