In the third in the 101 Ways to Bug series, a group of middle-schoolers encounters a bullying high-school golf-team member and a series of first-love misadventures.
“Sneeze” Wyatt, who is unbecomingly plagued by serious hay fever, has just returned from a summer-long vacation to discover that: a) while he once merely admired his friend Hayley, now he loves her; b) she has a severe crush on a hunky new Hawaiian member of the high-school golf team, Cullen—who doesn’t know she exists; c) Sneezes’s best friend Hiccup—who is wracked by hiccups when stressed—loves martial-arts star Joonbi; and, d) Joonbi seems to truly adore Sneeze. Sneeze, tapping into a Cyrano de Bergerac concept, begins to write e-mails to Hayley, supposedly from Cullen, a plan sure to eventually fail. Fortunately, the dialogue that constitutes most of the narrative and drives the plot is largely believable. Less expedient is the lack of significant character development and the numerous references to events that occurred in the two previous volumes in the series. Readers that come upon this work first will find many of the allusions mystifying and might need a score card to keep track of the numerous walk-on characters.With a mildly humorous presentation and the all-too-familiar concept of young teens exploring unrequited love, this average effort joins a crowded field. (Fiction. 9-12)