More unredeemed middle school monkeyshines and satire from the bully’s point of view in an occasionally humorous sequel.
Niko Kayler, fat, unhappy and addicted to causing pain and suffering wherever he goes, lasts only a day or two in his new Boulder school (the Organic School for Local Children) before he starts looking for a way to bully and not get caught. Refusing to take calming medication given him by his new psychiatrist—“I am not a Scientologist—I’m not necessarily against psychiatric medicine, but why alter what’s perfect?”—self-absorbed Niko nevertheless keeps a journal, as prescribed. He barters work at Radio Shack in exchange for cellphones (in a nod to Breaking Bad); he uses them to send terrorizing texts and then, well, as he is Niko, literally burns them. When he bumps up his game to Internet-based anonymous bullying, Niko’s shared discovery of techniques becomes a viral video recorded by Alex, his long-suffering sibling—once again heaping humiliation on Niko, hoist by his own petard. Katz’s manic narrative voice for Niko is mostly furious, arrogant and, yes, mildly funny, with occasional glimpses of the sad boy beneath it all, while the many line drawings accompanying his journal look authentically adolescent.
It’s a slog to the dubiously upbeat resolution (Niko realizing where salvation lies on the one hand and vowing a bullying comeback on the other), but that could be because, like Niko, his journal isn’t sure just what it wants to be. (Fiction. 12-14)