On paper, Something Wiki sounds like a good read – Jo Waller, a clever, offbeat almost-teenager who edits Wikipedia for fun is a fun new take on the teenage girl story. She has three smart friends, an older brother, Zimmerman (named after Bob Dylan), and while she’s a little dorky, she’s doing okay at school.
However, it’s very clear that I got my hopes up too high. Something Wiki is boring.
While the Wikipedia idea got me interested, it turns out that Jo doesn’t actually really edit them for fun – she edits them to insert little diary entries. Having done a little Wikipedia editing in my time, I can tell you that: 1. That kind of stuff is really annoying, and 2. No. On top of that, the Wikipedia idea was more of a gimmick that began each chapter, and also to mark her out as “quirky” and “different”, but came off as pretentious and tiring.
The actual story is written in first person so we get all the interminable dross that twelve year olds go through that seems important at the time, but is actually really boring when one looks back on it a few months or years later. While there are some interesting subplots, including her big brother Zim and his pregnant girlfriend moving back home, and her friendship group trying to cut her out, it’s padded with a lot of nothing. Sure, it might be realistic, but it’s also boring.
I’ll acknowledge that I am roughly a decade older than the protagonist, so maybe I just don’t understand twelve year olds and their problems, but I’d argue the strength of books is their ability to appeal to different people and draw them into the world of their characters. There are many excellent books featuring characters in their early teens, but unfortunately, this is not one of them.