Book ten of the bestselling young adult series Diary of a Wimpy Kid has been out for a while. And yours truly is a fan. (Don’t judge.) After finishing the tenth book, I got to thinking: Why has this series lasted so long and why does every book have so many holds on it at the library?
First, for those who don’t know, the story is about a middle school boy named Greg Heffley and his everyday life. His everyday life is filled with things that would annoy any teenager. The books are written in the first person since they are supposed to be Greg’s journal entries (thus the title.)
Let’s get the obvious out of the way: Yes, some of the situations do come across as something you’d see in a bad Disney Channel/Nickelodeon sitcom. Though not as bad as those, these situations are a bit, lack of a better word, stupid. For example. in the ninth book Hard Luck, Greg uses a magic 8-ball to cheat on a test. His teacher catches him, takes him to the principal and calls it an “electronic cheating device.” Why is that stupid? Because, yes, the teacher may be old and doesn’t know about the latest technology, but the magic 8-ball first came out in NINETEEN FUCKING FIFTY! That teacher would have HAD a magic 8-ball when she was a kid. That scene made NO SENSE!
Now that I vented, let’s look at the positives. You see, many kids see themselves as Gregg because he pretty much is a modern day kid. He doesn’t act like what an adult thinks a kid is like, he acts like a kid. He likes video games, hates school, wants to just watch TV all day and loves summer because there is no school. On top of that, the things that do get him in trouble real life kids have done. Crashing your dad’s car, losing your kid brother, hiding stuff from your parents. These are all things kids have done.
Not to mention all think they have Greg’s family. Yes, they are pretty much cliches, but they feel realer than anything in this genre. There’s the overprotective mom who’s lie that because of Greg’s little brother; Greg’s brother Roderick acts like a lazy older teen who’s in a band and does some mean things to Greg, but he’s not over the top. He acts like what an older brother does act like towards his younger brother.
Another trope is the dorky friend with the super strict parents (Milhouse, Butters.) In this case, it’s Rowley. Rowley may be a trope, but he does have some redeeming qualities that make him an actual character instead of a trope.
And that’s why these books are entertaining. These characters are your typical young adult tropes, but they don’t act like them. Not to mention the plots and situations are more relatable and realistic than your typical young adult story (with some exemptions of course.)
So, does this series deserve the fame it has? In a way, yes it does. It’s certainly better than many other series aimed at 10-14- year olds. It has the right amount of relatability to keep it interesting and knows when not to be stupid so that even adults can enjoy.