It’s a hard-knock life, for bugs.
Continuing the Tales From Lovecraft Middle School franchise, Teacher’s Pest, picks up immediately where Book Two left off. Paranormal Detective-Seventh Grader Robert Arthur has lost the Student Council President race and as he attempts to return to a “normal” life, Lovecraft Middle School is swarmed by an insect infestation of biblical proportions.
It just so happens a school janitor strike coincides with the insect invasion.
One-time rival Howard Mergler, who’s actually a bug-monster in disguise, recruits an exterminator company that may be doing more harm than good. As the mysterious creepy-crawlies are uncovered, a mysterious plot to overthrow the entire human race is revealed.
Mad Scientist Crawford Tillinghast makes a brief return appearance, as he attempts to escape the alternative universe, in which he’s hiding. Tillinghast plans to disguise demons and monsters as humans and use his awaiting insect invasion as his mighty army.
Seeking a solution, Robert ventures, yet again, into the alternate universe and this time he gets caught. Will he escape in time for supper with his Mom? Or will Robert become a mighty meal for one starving shaggai?
Robert’s best friends, resident bully Glenn Torkels and ghostly Karina Ortiz are absent for three-fourths of the book, making the majority of Book Three a solo adventure, which feels like a shallow story. This is an abrupt change from the previous two books. It’s basically anchored by a boy’s love for his missing pet, which almost everybody can relate to.
Another franchise development is the boys’ parental problems. Both Glenn and Robert have a single-parent families, but this is the first revelation about each missing parent. Story-wise, the author may have included this element to relate to his Young Adult readers. Because of this revelation taking a more prominent role in the story, both of Robert’s friends are almost written out of the book. His back-and-forth banter with them was memorable for the first two books and sorely missed in Book Three.
Lots of lice, fleas, termites, flies, maggots, stinkbugs, pill bugs, locusts, wasps and katydids plague this book, as the main antagonists prepare for the Great War. A possible metamorphosis ensues, which may be a double entendre referring to another Quirk book.
Strength: The story is more than a little buggy.
Weakness: Missing characters make the book feel less meaningful.
WTF moment: An insect anatomy lesson is included with evil insect overlords featured as antagonists. A Young Adult book that teaches!
– “You crossed over.”
– “So you’re not a Zombie?”
– “This is how it feels to be a bug.”
– “Soon as school’s over, we’re getting your rats back.”
– “It’s my tremendous pleasure to introduce Lord of the Flies!”
– “When the snow thaws, we will no longer live in the cracks and crevasses of society.”