I picked up No Good Deed at BookCon the week of the release and brought it on vacation with me later that month (and then left it with the friends we stayed with because I loved it so much that I wanted to share it with them). I was unsure about the premise when I first picked it up, if I’m being honest, but I was hooked by the end of the first chapter. Goldy Moldavsky nails the feelings I’ve had for my entire life right on the head. I’ll get to that.
Gregor Maravilla wants to change the world. In fact, that’s why he applied to be a camper at Camp Save the World, which is sponsored by his tech business idol. He’s determined to make a difference, but it doesn’t take him long to realize that there are a lot of other teenagers out there who also want to save the world, and who have better plans to achieve their goals. And then there’s movie star Ashley Woodstone, who is… super weird, but in an endearing sort of way. And a prize is announced that has everyone doing shady things to win. Things start to get a little nutty at Camp Save the World… and Gregor is right in the thick of everything.
Okay, that’s a terrible description of a hilarious book, but yeah, that’s the gist of it.
3 Things I Loved
- Ashley Woodstone. Ashley is so weird! But in a fun way. And as the story progresses, we start seeing Ashley through Gregor’s eyes – we see her develop into a normal person, rather than a weird movie star who is trying to get everyone to eat dirt. I loved watching her character develop, and I loved being along for the ride with Gregor as he starts to fall for her. (Small spoiler, but it’s pretty clear very early on that it’s going to happen. AND I WAS THERE FOR IT.)
- Gregor confronting his heritage. This is what I loved most about the book. Gregor is half Mexican, a white Latino. People at the camp don’t believe him when he says he’s Latino. He consistently has to justify himself, and it hurt me more than just about anything I’ve ever read in a YA novel. Because that’s been me my whole life. I am half Mexican, but I look white, and I have to constantly justify myself to people. I’ve never felt like I completely fit in with my Midwestern blond-haired, blue-eyed friends with my dark eyes and Spanish-speaking grandparents. And more times than I can count, when I tell people I’m half Mexican, their response is, “Say something in Spanish or I won’t believe you.” Because I look white, and I don’t speak fluent Spanish. Why? Because Mexicans are discriminated against, dudes, and it was especially bad in the 50s and 60s when my grandparents were newly married and left south Texas for Chicago to try to start a new life for themselves. They chose to not teach their own children (like my mother) Spanish so they could hopefully fit in better in the Midwest. This country has a terrible, dark history with stuff like that. So anyway, TL;DR – I appreciated Gregor and I related to his life and the internal thoughts he was constantly having about his heritage and culture. And I’m so so glad that someone wrote a character like him, because I had never seen myself in a book before.
- The absurdity of the whole thing. Camp Save the World is banana pants. It was almost unrealistic, but I kind of loved it. The characters were so extreme, and it was enjoyable throughout the entire book. A+, because the camp was a character in itself and I was there for it.
Ha, well, here’s the thing about our narrator, Gregor: he tries so hard to be PC at all times that he actually becomes offensive by trying to be offensive. It was borderline amusing. I will say that there is quite a bit of bullying throughout the book. I don’t think (personally) that anything was bad enough to warrant a content or trigger warning, but I am an adult, and I’m pretty far removed from high school now. So I don’t think I’m the best judge of that. Had I read this in high school, I think it would have been more difficult for me to read at times.
A reminder of the rating scale:
- Red = DNF, I hated everything
- Orange = Ugh, no thank you
- Yellow = I mean, I’ve read worse, but there were problems
- Green = This was good, but not something I’d reread
- Blue = Oh my gosh, everyone should be reading this book
- Purple = This is the unicorn of books and I will be rereading it until the binding falls apart
I loved this book, but I think Gregor’s heritage made it a home in a special place in my heart. For that reason, I am going to give No Good Deed a greenish-blue rating – I’m not sure it’s for everyone, but I’ll be reading it again.
Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a paper ARC at BookCon in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinions in any way.