Beetle Battles the Biotoxic Bulldogs is a bit of a misleading title. It somewhat suggest that this will be a sci-fi or supernatural book. Even the cover, which I loved and really catches the eye, looks like something from the science fiction genre. However, this has nothing to do with aliens or biotoxic bulldogs. In fact, I’m not at all sure exactly which genre I would place it in. I think it’s aimed at younger teenagers because the main character, Beetle, is in grade eight even though he is two years older than his classmates. But some of the content gave me mixed feelings about which age group I would want reading this book. I don’t mind the subject of wet dreams and such but the description of Beetle’s dreams went a bit too far. Also, there’s a very long section about taking a lie detector test and some of the questions were entirely inappropriate. Bullying and racism is also addressed but in such a way that it was quite uncomfortable to read. As for vocabulary, I’m pretty sure that there are very few young people, or even adults, who would know the meaning of the word micturition. Then again, urinating into Beetle’s mouth was an unnecessary aspect of the bullying storyline, in my opinion.
In regards to character development, Beetle is quite well developed. I can picture him as your average teenager who is reaching the cusp of becoming an adult but still with the immaturity of a child. It’s everything and everyone surrounding him that leaves a lot to be desired with regards to dimensionality of character. Little facts, lots of them, are just far too unbelievable to be ignored. A limo taking a student to a school so that he can do after school janitorial work? A beating so severe that blood is flowing down a child’s face but minutes later the adults take no notice of anything but the smell of urine and the fact that the child is wet? The writing just didn’t flow like it should and the transition from one scene to another wasn’t smooth and often didn’t make sense.
On the positive side, I can see this becoming a funny movie aimed at the younger generations. There is lots of humour and some really great parts. It also addresses many of the issues young people face today. If some parts were tweaked just a bit this would be a great book. The bones of a funny and entertaining novel are here, they just need some work.
I read this in digital format on my ereader and it worked well. The cover, as I previously wrote, is fantastic.