“Rambo led a twenty second silence before breakfast to mark the day of Gecko’s death. It should have been thirty seconds, but halfway through Garlic shouted, ‘How long are we keeping silent for?’” – John van de Ruit, Spud: Learning to Fly
'Spud: Learning to Fly' is the third part in a series of four is the successor to 'Spud: The Madness Continues' and 'Spud'. It remains so far the most unique and mature of the series all the while maintaining its wacky humor. It proves that joke need not always be offensive, an important change from the first book. If you haven't yet read the previous parts, I suggest you first do that for obvious reasons (Spoilers).
Spud 3 begins as usual with Spud's first day back to school. It marks the introduction of the new first years 'The fragile five' and an additional member to ‘The crazy eight - Garlic. For the first time, Spud finds that he isn't caught up in romantic entanglements although Amanda and The Mermaid make an appearance. However another member of the crazy eight has a girlfriend, much to surprise of everyone. Unlike the failure of Spud 2's house play, this book allows much room for Spud to showcase is acting abilities. Spud 3 also witnesses the race to become a school prefect. The crazy eight visit their friend Mad Dog’s house. Spud 3 sees a lack of sports and a school organized camping trip spells disaster. While Wombat doesn’t make enough of an appearance, Spud’s father makes yet another business investment and his mother tries to maintain the sanity of the family.
Most characters have changed drastically and logically. Rambo has become safer and less likely to force everyone to go night swimming. Simon is more firm, putting his foot down all the while going through a mental breakdown. Spud is more mature, spending even more time by himself. The craziness in his life has toned down and consequentially his humor. Pike has returned and with a vendetta. Spike is still obnoxious, Runt still creepy.
Garlic is a brilliant addition and leaves you equal parts frustrated and amused within the first ten pages. Two new characters Penny and Brenda are introduced but both appear equally irritating, the high pitched voice kind of girls.
Learning to fly is a lot more controlled, organized and well written. The language is casual. It is recommended for readers of all ages, although certain parts could influence younger minds wrongly. It is loads better than The Madness Continues and funnier too. Eventually, towards the end, times seem to look up for Spud. Everything gone wrong throughout the book works out for him, tied up and gift wrapped in a neat parcel. It is almost the calm before the storm and it only makes me eager to read ‘Spud 4: Exit, Pursued by a Bear’, so look out for a review soon.