Saturday, April 17, 2010

Book Review: The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk

*Comments on this post will go toward my Library Week challenge*
The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin begin when he decides to leave the deaf school he attended to enter a mainstream high school.  Things aren't as easy for him as he hoped they would be.  But, when the star football player, Pat Chambers, is killed during a field trip to the local mine, he and another classmate will team up to solve the mystery of his death.  Combining their unique skills (sorta) they hope to find out who murdered Pat.

The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin

Things I Liked:
This book was pretty unique to other things I've read.  It has the humor and irony of an overweight (and deaf) kid story told in first person.  It also has a mystery plot with several side mysteries that appear.  Despite being mainly humorous and spoofing Hardy Boys mysteries, it also has some more difficult topics it tackles.  These things surprised me with their serious and still humorous views.  I really liked Will as the main character.  I loved his way of finding things out about people by observation and lip reading and the humorous nicknames.  Here is some of the good:

"Huzzah.  The day of the field trip to Happy Memory Coal Mine has finally arrived.  I am so excited that I put on my best outfit, lovingly sculpt my hair, and skip out the front door.  Who would not be excited to stand in a dark coal mine with the cretins who make up my history class?" p 101 
"Devon's reasoning behind parking the car a few hundred yards from Porkrind's shady chateau is to "secure our cover," a move he probably learned in The Hardy Boys in The Case of the Two Dorks Spying on Their Bus Driver." p152
Things I Didn't Like:
I don't know that I can put my finger on things I didn't like about it (most of it was very likable), but I kinda came away feeling just a little meh about it.  It was fun while I was reading and the mystery kept me guessing, but I was not super thrilled by it.  It's what I call a good read, not fabulous.

Reminded me of Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have by Allen Zadoff

s-factor: !@
pretty common, but not very strong

mrg-factor: XXX
the minds of teenage boys, also some incidents

v-factor: ->
nothing on page, but some abuse mentioned

Overall rating: ***

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage


  1. Awhile back, I had a weird/funny Twitter exchange with this author. It was all because of Brodi Ashton, silly girl. So now I think I better read his book, don't you think? :)

  2. Melissa, your positives make this sound like a lot of fun, despite your reservations. And I liked the main character's _voice" in your quotes, though wonder if modern readers would necessarily 'get' the Hardy Boy references? I almost "don't" myself, as in, mainly know the books as a "concept". But frm your review, I think I'll definitely have to read this one!

  3. Suey, I think I picked it up because of Brodi's enthusiasm for it too :)

    Andie, I don't think the Hardy Boys references are that in depth. Although, there probably are people who will read it and not really get them. I'm sure if you have the general concept of them, you'll be fine.


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