A class livestreaming assignment creates both humiliations and new friendships for 12-year-old Simon.
For Grade 7 technology class, Simon’s required to do a livestream on a shared platform. Students who create “engaging content”—that is, those students who get lots of likes and comments by their classmates—will get the better grades. Simon, who is White, wants an A, as his constantly fighting parents have promised as a reward for good grades to take him to the Canadian Video Game Championships; he secretly hopes they’ll reconcile on the trip. His best friend, Jocelyn, who is Filipina, wants to get an A in order to be allowed to continue her mixed martial arts training. It feels to Simon as though his plans to create engaging content are cursed. In a series of accidental livestreams (of increasingly dubious probability), Simon streams his dog playing with his mother’s underwear, a mortifying toilet incident, pet mouth-to-mouth, and worse. Weirdly, every video makes Simon more popular thanks to the unintentional comedy. Everything goes awry when Simon’s teacher, at the behest of the private company that owns the video app, changes the grading guidelines for the class (inexplicably presented as a normal educational choice). Suddenly, Jocelyn and Simon are no longer allies. And Simon needs allies, for though the school’s a “no-bullying zone,” the teachers are oblivious to the violent bullies who target Simon—even when they livestream the violence for their own course assignments. Video games and slapstick poop jokes can’t salvage this haphazard plot.
Insufficiently exaggerated for farce, insufficiently plausible for anything else.
Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2020
Page Count: 135
Publisher: Common Deer Press
Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020