I finished reading to my daughter the fourth of the nine “Heck” books, featuring Milton and Marlo Fauster, who find themselves in the adolescent afterlife.. This book features a visit to the Furafter, the animal version of the afterlife. I love the fact that the canine equivalent of Limbo is called “Stay!” I also wept tears of joy when I realized how long in advance the author set up a really stupid pun involving a tightrope-walking shrimp.
My daughter says, “It has good characters… Enough characters that there is a nicely crowded storyline so you can follow different people with each of their stories. He makes each of the stories with each of the characters interesting enough that you don’t say, ‘Oh, I wanted to hear more about Anubis’ when there’s a new chapter [about someone else]. He makes really really ridiculously stupid puns, but they’re really funny. I like how he can make up really good stories. A whole bunch of people will sometimes have that sort of a thing, but won’t be able to make good stories between more than one character, like he can. My favorite joke was when he said in Fibble, The most conceited thing you can do is put yourself in a book — and he did put himself into this one.” (Here she started singing a self-satisfied song from Peter Pan about being conceited.)
For my part, I find the series just a little too complicated for its own good, with lots of chapters starting with lengthy expositions in which characters we haven’t seen for a couple of chapters remind each other what they are doing so we can make sense of what’s happening, but the cringeworthy puns, the pop culture references (like scenes from fake TV shows like “Allah in the Family” and “Teenage Jesus”), and the relationship between the brother-and-sister protagonists are all good enough that the plot stretchers are really no problem. About 90% of the time when my daughter interrupts me to ask a question, the very sentence she is interrupting is the one that explains the point that confused her.