This book pissed me off. I had planned to start this post explaining how flight is another one of those powers people always seem to want. However, as I said, this book really pissed me off. So, no cutesy introduction, no clever pun for the ending. This book doesn’t deserve it. It just deserves my rage. This is How I Learned to Fly.
Jack and Wilson are two idiots who are always competing. They race, they compare their drawings, they show off their toys. All this in an attempt to impress Mia, the “cutest girl in school.” And Jack always loses. One day after throwing a ridiculous temper tantrum, Jack stumbles across a book called Flying Lessons. Thus, Jack learns to fly and he thinks he’s finally beaten Wilson. Unfortunately, Wilson is a breaking and entering thief who always has to be the best and learns to fly as well.
Do I sound angry in my description of this book? I certainly hope so, because I found this story ridiculous and despicable. I got so angry with this book that I couldn’t finish it. I got to around page 73 and I forced myself to skim through the rest. My issue isn’t really with the story itself. The story seems creative and very fantastical. No, my problem rests solely on the idiot, selfish, jerk of a kid that calls himself the main character, Jack.
Jack is a terrible character, plain and simple. He and Wilson are just too competitive. It’s trying to sell this competitiveness as “boys being boys” but it all seems far too mean spirited. Both of the characters come off more as bullies than anything else, constantly trying to one-up each other. Not to mention, when Jack doesn’t get his way, he just throws a fit. It was really annoying to see the person who was supposed to be the “role model” of the story acting so completely childish. (Yes, I know he’s a child. But none of the other Goosebumps books so far this month have the main characters acting so completely immature.)
Despite the horrible main character, the story itself actually seemed like a good premise to me. Flying is fascinating, especially the Superman sort of flying with no wings required. This story was more focused on a fantasy element than a horror one, and it shows. In fact, it’s fantasy done pretty well. The few flying scenes I read were fantastic, describing the feeling of flying pretty well. It reminded me of those dreams where you can suddenly fly for no reason. Reading those scenes felt freeing in a way, which I believe was the point.
Even with an interesting premise, this book still is one big pile of crap. The main character is terrible, the ending seems horribly mean-spirited (suffice to say the main character resorts to trickery, and what the hell kind of lesson is THAT for kids?), and I got so annoyed with it that I had to stop reading. It boggles my mind why people would like this book. If you like good main characters, this is most definitely not the story for you. It may be the one Goosebumps book I end up throwing in the trash.