Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go by Dale E. Basye
Illustrations by Bob Dob
Heck, The First Circle of Heck
Finished: Mar. 11, 2009
First Published: July, 2008
Genre: children, fantasy
Reason for Reading: Received a review copy from Random House Canada, in anticipation of the second book coming out this summer.
As many believe, there is a place above and a place below.
Comments: Milton's sister Marlo is a lot of trouble; a Goth girl always pulling off pranks and often dragging her younger brother along for the ride. When Milton and Marlo are killed in a marshmallow-bear explosion at the local mall they slide down to a place with big sign "Heck". Seems children aren't fully responsible for their earthly actions and Heck is the place where they go until they are 18 or eternity whichever comes first. At that time their soul will be re-weighed and their final destination (up or down) will be determined.
Heck is not a nice place. They have to go to school with teachers such as Lizzie Bordon, Richard Nixon and Blackbeard. Then there is a principle Bea "Elsa" Bubb who has particular designs on Milton as it appears he really shouldn't be here and she watches him carefully. Milton, Marlo and Milton's new found friend Virgil come up with plans to escape.
A fun romp through demons, teachers and yukky places provide plenty of humour and a fun ride. While much of the book is predictable I found the ending quite a surprise. The humour is a bit much of the toilet variety and I had expected something more witty but the potential is there and I'm looking forward to see where the story goes in book 2. Ages 9 to 11 are certain to enjoy the book, while I found it somewhat lacking in believable characterization I still found the story a lot of fun. Sometimes a book can just simply be a pleasant diversion and that is how I conclude my impressions of this book.