He’s not asking for much. All Gregor Maravilla wants to do is feed all of the starving children on the planet. So when he’s selected to join Camp Save the World, a special summer program for teenage activists from all over the country to champion their cause, Gregor’s sure he’s on the path to becoming Someone Great.
But then a prize is announced. It will be awarded at the end of summer to the activist who shows the most promise in their campaign. Gregor’s sure he has the prize in the bag, especially compared to some of the other campers’ campaigns. Like Eat Dirt, a preposterous campaign started by Ashley Woodstone, a famous young actor who most likely doesn’t even deserve to be at the camp. Everywhere Gregor goes, Ashley seems to show up ready to ruin things. Plus, the prize has an unforeseen side effect, turning a quiet summer into cutthroat warfare where campers stop focusing on their own campaigns and start sabotaging everyone else’s.
Description taken from Goodreads. I received an advance copy of this book, released May 30th, 2017, via the publisher in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are my own.
Beyond being excited to receive this ARC from Scholastic, I was super excited for this book because I’d hoped it would cover one of the huge elements of high school that most YA books breeze right past: activism. Of course, especially at the beginning, it can start off as trying to fulfill requirements and boost college apps by volunteering, but I wanted Gregor to show a passion and love for what he was trying to do to make the world a better place, something I haven’t yet seen in this genre but am faced with everyday.
More or less, I got what I wanted, but not in the way that I expected it.
First of all, it’s important that readers not take Moldavsky’s writing too seriously. For one thing, her writing doesn’t show very much care or thought in execution. It gets the job done, bells and whistles aside. For another, her writing is satirical–or at least that’s the impression I’ve gotten from Kill the Boy Band and No Good Deed, and that’s what pleasantly surprised me about Moldavsky’s work.
Is No Good Deed a great and sweeting novel that encompasses what it means to fall in love with a cause, become an activist, and all the while get into college? No, but it manages to poke fun of the entire thing while also shedding some light on the kids hustling to pay it forward, and I thought that was important and fun to see.
Granted, the narration was a big rough around the edges, so that make it a bit hard to connect with. Gregor is relatable and an all around great main character, but he sounds like he just walked straight out of 8th grade with his middle school diploma in hand. Instead of being mature, he’s written to sound and act younger than he actually is, and I don’t think it was intentional. There were also many cases of telling, not showing, and raving on and on about a topic that had long since expired. The gist of it? Good idea, bad execution prose-wise.
In terms of plot, I was iffy. I wasn’t such a fan of the ending, which didn’t help, but overall, I thought it was decently plotted. The pacing was good when introducing different events. Unfortunately, too many minor characters kept on being introduced without any real consequence, which made the book feel slower than it actually was.
So you can tell I’m a bit in-between on this one. On a literary level, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. You can get your satire somewhere else. But on an entertainment and high school level, I actually ended up enjoying it far more than I thought I would. Gregor has a few gems of insight here and there about his plight that made it worth trucking on when things got rough, and I appreciated the supporting character buildup later throughout the book. OVERALL, I would recommend to the right person, possibly middle-graders branching into YA or people who aren’t usually interested in reading.