Author: M.T. Anderson
My Age Recommendation: 12+
Publisher: Walker Books
Publication Date: 2000
Anthony is a wuss - until the day he finds his girlfriend, Diana, in Turner's arms! Anthony vows revenge and devises The Plan which involves an anarchist, a condiment trolley, and a 1985 Oldsmobile named Margot. But when these ingredients are finally put together, will he be satisfied?
I’ve got a bit sick and tired of reading male protag YA about zombies, or spies, or well, anything set in the future.
As such, I decided to search for the kinds of books I’ve always loved the most – comedic boy-POV stuff in the vein of King Dork or The Perks Of Being A Wallflower.
The result was Burger Wuss, a slight but entertaining novel about a geek hatching an elaborate plan to get revenge on the rival who’s stolen his woman.
The reason for the burger reference? A lot of the action takes place in a fast food joint, where hero Anthony takes a job in order to be closer to his nemesis.
As many of us have either worked in a junk food restaurant – or knows someone who did – there’s some decent comic mileage gained out of the mundanity of the deep fat fryer.
And there’s an authenticity to the slow burn of a teen payback. Nothing much happens in this book, but that’s not especially to its detriment.
Like a lot of male-orientated fiction, the object of his affection is mostly a caricature, but Anderson gets Anthony’s voice right and there’s a motley band of amusing support, including anarchist Shunt who is nefariously co-opted by Anthony as his right-hand man and chief muscle.
As Anthony elevates a comparatively friendly rivalry between competing burger franchises into all-out war – just to ridicule the kid who slept with his girlfriend – the author touches on pertinent issues about peer pressure, jealousy and youthful over-exuberance.
And for those whose teenage years weren’t spent at the cool table or snuggled up next to a girl at the cinema, parts of this book will make you clench your fist in triumph.
Inevitably though, in real life, that kind of feeling doesn’t last and Anderson’s low-key tale plays that truthfully. The result is satisfying but shallow and not long-lasting – much like, it could be said, those meat patties which play such a central part throughout.