If nerds ruled the world, we might all be in a happier place … that’s at least sort of the message of Tom McLaughlin’s typically funny, light-touch satirical new adventure series. Tyler, the narrator, is smart – too smart for school in fact and she’s been taught at home by her dad since kindergarten. Now though he’s decided it’s time she had a normal life, and the two move to Happyville, statistically the happiest place ever. He can write his book, she can go to the local school and, for the first time ever, make friends.
Maybe there’s something inherently wrong with any place that happy, certainly Happyville High – motto ‘The more popular you are, the happier you become!’ – seems a trifle odd. Fortunately Tyler does make friends when she stumbles on the school’s nerds Ashley and Dylan hiding in a darkened library. The three become unlikely super-heroes when the community is struck by a strange affliction that causes one arm to elongate to extraordinary length. It turns out this bizarre problem is the side-effect of constant selfie-taking and the girls tackle it by triple-handedly turning selfies into the social-media equivalent of their library hideout – something to be avoided at all cost.
The plot is very funny and the text is full of witty one-liners (the girls’ encounter with football is particularly good for this). As ever with McLaughlin’s comedies, there’s more to the story than humour alone and he slips in some sharp comment on society and how we live. His own illustrations add to the fun.