A teenage blogger tries to bring down a crooked politician when scandal hits a fishing-obsessed community.
The founders of Mistake, Wisconsin, gave their city its name to discourage visitors. The plan backfired. Flocks of tourists frequent the small town to partake in every Mistakers’ favorite pastime: fishing. For them, it’s not just a hobby or an industry; it’s a livelihood that permeates every facet of life. Locals and visitors alike go for the muskellunge, a fish so prized it’s the high school mascot as well as the inspiration for hit songs (“Do The Musky”) and merchandise galore. When musky mailboxes start disappearing just days before the town’s annual Opening Day—a beloved holiday when the lakes open up for a season of musky fishing—Deputy Mayor Kenny “the Troll” Trollqvist points his finger at Mistake’s teenagers and cancels all Opening Day festivities. Fifteen-year-old Megan Svenson, a sassy blogger and bait store staffer, sets out to solve the mystery, expose the Troll’s crooked ways, and save the fishing celebration. Readers don’t have to wait long to find out whether the thieves are inebriated teens, territory-treading Chicagoans, or scheming city officials—turns out that’s not really the point of Niebruegge’s debut YA novel. Instead, she describes small-town shenanigans, all things fishing, and teenage observations of everyday life with an appealing satirical tone: “Like all crotchety old people, Mike spent most of the day complaining that the younger generation was ruining America with their electronic devices, optimism, and viral cat videos,” and “Our community hasn’t been so terrorized since the Fourth of July chipmunk infestation of 1974.” But all this comedy doesn’t wash away the book’s duller aspects, such as a brief but slow opening chapter that details Mistake’s geographical features and historical roots, a major plotline involving building permits, and extensive back stories for seemingly every town tradition and institution.
Despite the cute quips, the storyline lacks intrigue for a broader audience; best for readers fond of fishing, Wisconsin, and small-town quirks.