WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.
School of Fear: Class Is Not Dismissed! by Gitty Daneshvari
Basic Plot: The children from School of Fear must return for a second year of schooling. Unfortunately, overcoming their fears may not be as easy as it was last year, especially with a new student on the way.
Plot: 3/5 Average: While still holding charm, the plot was not as unique as the first. It is still character driven, unexpected, and hilarious at times, but it does not have as clear a direction as the first one, making it a bit more sporadic feeling.
Writing Style and Setup: 4/5 Well Done: Ms. Daneshvari writes her book in a wry black comedy style filled with both irony and the feels. The writing will make one shake their head as they imagine the ridiculously hilarious scenarios the author puts her characters through.
Moral: 2/5 Unclear but Good Moral: This time, the book’s moral was not so clear cut. The book focused more the plot than teaching a lesson, but one can still see that the focus of the whole series is reflected at the end of the book. It pushes the belief that even if one is afraid; they must learn to still do what they are afraid of. It is put nicely at the end when a main character says, “It’s OK to be scared or angry, but it’s no way to live forever.”
Overall: 3½/5 Above Average: While still enduring and comical, the sequel is not as good as the last, perhaps because it lacks the total unexpectedness that the first book had. Overall, though, it is still a good read that I would recommend to boys and girls over twelve.
Sexual and Inappropriate Content: ½/5 Slightly Suggestive Content: A girl has a crush on a boy, blushing when she thinks of him and once attempting to admit it. When she fails to, he gives her a friendly wink. A girl touches a boys hair and shoulder, though she does not like him romantically. A boy calls himself “quite the catch,” though it is never proved to be true. A girl platonically holds hands and walks arm in arm with boys. A woman once wears a sleeveless dress. A girl once calls her helping others a “friend date.” People looking for bugs find some on a dead horse’s body in various places, one being the literally called “unmentionables.”
An animal poops on a girl’s head, and a girl says she has seen an animal pee on itself before.
Violence: A boy mentions that his siblings throw eggs at a man, and probably will at him if he is not careful.
Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: 1½/5 One Misuse and Mentions: God’s name is taken in vain once. “Gosh” is said nine times, and “gee” is said once. “Sucks” is said at least once. It is mentioned that characters make “obscene hand gestures.”
Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 2½/5 Black Comedy Jokes and Themes: One boy has the fear that his family will die somehow, and takes this to a level a tracking if they are “Dead or Alive” in a notebook and stalking them to make sure they are ok. A girl throws up multiple times and sometimes feels like she will. A girl faints. A spider falls on a girls head and she kills it by smashing it into her forehead. A tram smashes into the bottom of a mountain, just barely being emptied at the last second. A boy says he would “prick [his] finger and make [a man his] blood brother” if there were no “serious health risks.” There are several jokes about death. It is mentioned that a main character pretended to die once, and a boy says not to do it. It is mentioned that scary clowns are used to try to cure fears and a picture of a scary clown is shown. There is a lot of black comedy style jokes made about death, funerals, caskets, eulogies, almost dying, and possibly dying. A girl and her pet are allergic to peanuts, so she lets the pet eat first, knowing that if it dies, she should not eat it. A girl throws a plate on the floor and accuses her food is poisoned, which it isn’t. A girl angrily says she wants to throw a girl’s pet “under a bus” and says some British people eat that animal, though it is not known if the latter is true. A man says a woman literally could die if they are too slow. A room has tombstones for fear training and a “graveyard of… porcelain dolls” (not literally a grave yard, just broken dolls). It is mentioned that “Emetophobia is the fear of vomiting.” Every chapter is headed with a different fear. A boy tries to scream when he finds a ferret in his mouth upon waking up. A letter says that “the death of a pet” is not an excuse to skip school. A boy lies that an animal is choking. A girl with arachnophobia dramatically asks to be killed when two hundred bugs are set loose, and a boy dramatically says he is dying from a disease he does not have. Overdramatic people say a woman who is not spoiling her dog is endangering its “life” and is using “torture” on it. People say a dog or baby could fly “through the windshield” “without a seatbelt.” People think a dog could choke if not personally feed. A boy says “injury… or death” could be the result of not stalking his family. A girl briefly wonders if a mark on her will scar. Asthma, bird flue, brain tumors, dizziness, ferrititis (a made of disease), heat rash, PTSD, rabies, swine flu, worms are all mentioned. A girl gives herself whiplash. Characters scream and cry from fear and general sadness, and some are literally said to go into hysterics. “Army,” “blood curling,” “dead,” “kill” “killer,” “torture” are used for descriptive purposes. A character says that they should not use the word “army” as he is a pacifist.
Religious Issues: 1/5 Suggestive: A boy is not sure which religion he wants to follow yet, though he says that Judaism and Buddhism as being options, and mentions the bar mitzvah. A surfer boy says that part of his style is “Zen” and “being one with the water.” This is never practiced, but he does have a generally calm and pacifistic attitude. Things are called “blasphemous” when they really are not, such as holding a pageant in a park. Characters talk about animals being psychic and knowing when people will die.It is mentioned that hypnotism and shamans are used to try to cure fears but fail. Luck is mentioned. A boy thinks briefly that a certain spider “may have hypnotic powers,” though this is never proven true. Dog acupuncture and yoga is mentioned, and it is said that certain characters practice the latter. It is mentioned that a book talks about Zeusphobia. A bag has miniature trolls in it. A woman asks if homeland security is a “hippie commune.” A woman says that character’s poor posture makes it look “like evolution never happened!” “Neanderthal” and “devilishly” are used for descriptive purposes.
Magic: 1/5 Brief Mention: “Wicciphobia is the fear of witches or witchcraft,” is mentioned. It is mentioned that a woman “asked the tooth fairy” for something as a kid. “Fairy tale,” “magical,” and “under a spell” are used for descriptive purposes. No magic is done in the book.
Others: Several characters note how good looking a man is, including one boy, though there is nothing to suggest that he is gay or interested in him in a romantic way. A boy uses the word “bro-mance” (non-romantic male bonding) and is told to not use it again. A boy has hair “almost long than” a girl’s. A boy says his friend date “better not be” a ferret and that he has been “set up” with one before. It is mentioned that a man was “afraid of being abducted by UFOs.” “Alien coming out of your stomach” is used for descriptive purposes. A man who does not appear in this book (but has in others) is mentioned to be a gambling addict, and racing, poker, and blackjack are all mentioned. He makes a bet with a woman over the phone. A car briefly is mentioned to be playing reggae music. A woman asks if a man is a dancer and if he dances ballet or modern. A girl says she didn’t see him tap dance. A male dog likes pedicures and is forced to dress in a skirt and wig, the latter much to his assumed chagrin. Dogs compete in a ballet contest, and a dog is mentioned to have tap danced. Barbie Band Camp, Dr. Doolittle, High School Musical, are mentioned. “Ballerina” and “waltzed” are used for descriptive purposes. “Gone with the Wind” is used for descriptive purposes. Diana Ross is mentioned briefly and a line from her song is quoted.
Overall: 2½/5 I would recommend this morally for preteens twelve and older at the youngest for the overall black comedy theme of the book and for the one misuse of God’s name.