"The Amazing Adventures of Waldo" by Tashawn Blount
The Amazing Adventures of Waldo is a unique book perfect for any YA lover. Our main character, Waldo, tells his story of his junior year in high school, as he and his friends get revenge on the school bullies. Waldo quickly goes from nerd to king of the school as he stands up to the nastiest kids in South Hill.
We see Waldo open up, meet new people, and get out of his comfort zone. But something that stayed the same throughout the book is his love for comic books. Actually, we see Waldo start to write his own comic book. He frequently uses his personal experiences as inspiration, but with a fantasy twist. Instead of a high school, it's a tall, evil Tower. And instead of bullies, it's menacing robots called Machines. It was refreshing to see the events play out from a new perspective. These parts never seemed redundant or unnecessary. In fact, they were critical to witness because even though we were reading from the first-person narrative, they gave us an even more in-depth look into how Waldo was thinking and feeling. This comic book fantasy is his escape from reality, where he can safely assess what is going on. "I drift into my fantasy world, and reality disappears from around me." Overall, the mirroring of events is the perfect irony to what was really happening in his life. Even though he pictured himself and a powerful Extraordinary in his comic book, he was actually extraordinary for standing up for his fellow classmates.
Another major part of The Amazing Adventures of Waldo is the theme of friendship. At the beginning of the story, Waldo doesn't have many friends until he unexpectedly meets May and Josh, our other two main characters. Upon their first meeting, May and Jost ask Waldo about his previous friendships at other schools. The trio immediately becomes closer after May declares, "we are your friends now. We are your first friends, which automatically makes us your best friends." Then, later in the story, we meed Madison, Edward, Darwin, Thomas, who also become good friends with Waldo. As Waldo maintains more friendships, we see him grow and gain more confidence. Without the help and support of his friends, Waldo would not have found the courage to stand up to the school bullies.
The last significant symbol in the book is first love. We see Waldo crush on a few different girls during the story, but as he grows and develops as a young man, he finds himself falling for one beautiful young lady. In the end, with the big reveal, Waldo finally expresses how he feels. He thanks her for the support, love, and for "seeing him when no one else did." This moment completed his character development and his maturity. Instead of crushing on the popular mean girl, he fell for the one that mattered most to him.
The Amazing Adventures of Waldo is 244 pages of a wonderful journey of a shy, nerdy main character breaking out of his comfort zone, makes new friends, and find the love of his young life. I highly recommend this book to any YA fiction lover, but especially to those that love high school dramas, comic books, and revenge of the nerds. I can't think of any other YA books like it, so you'll have to try it for yourself.
About the book:
"In his mind, he’s a superhero. In the real world, he might just destroy his high school…
Waldo would rather fantasize about defending Earth from aliens than face the drudgery of his junior year. But when the comic-book nerd falls for the most popular girl in his class, the only shot he’s got is to level the playing field…
Teaming up with two fellow outcasts, Waldo devises an unconventional plan to get the girl of his dreams: bring down every other cool kid that stands in his way. But as the truth about his classmates surfaces and his own fame grows, he fears his dangerous takedown is spinning out of control.
Is Waldo destined to be the hero of his fantasies, or will he blunder his way into accidental villainy? The Amazing Adventures of Waldo is a charming standalone YA novel. If you like clever heroes, fantasy meshing with reality, and plucky underdogs, then you’ll love Tashawn Blount’s heartwarming tale." (Goodreads)