Burger Wuss

Burger Wuss

3.8 20
by M. T. Anderson

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Anthony has never been able to stand up for himself -- that is, not until his girlfriend is in someone else's arms. Then Anthony vows revenge and devises the Plan. It begins with getting a job at the fast-food restaurant where his nemesis happens to be a star employee. But when the Plan is finally in place, will Anthony's hunger for revenge be satisfied? Will he prove… See more details below


Anthony has never been able to stand up for himself -- that is, not until his girlfriend is in someone else's arms. Then Anthony vows revenge and devises the Plan. It begins with getting a job at the fast-food restaurant where his nemesis happens to be a star employee. But when the Plan is finally in place, will Anthony's hunger for revenge be satisfied? Will he prove he's not a wuss?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a world where every teenager works at one fast food chain or another and likes it, Anthony just doesn't fit in. His first real girlfriend has dumped him for a meathead named Turner who works at O'Dermott's, so Anthony plots revenge. He gets a job at the restaurant and embarks on a complicated plot to pit the kids from Burger Queen against the kids from O'Dermott's--and thereby draw the BQ wrath down on company-man Turner's head. Like Anderson's Thirsty, this book is a burlesque of teenage angst and conformist culture; the vacuous foundation of the vicious rivalry between the two food chains is underscored by a caustic portrayal of Anthony's two best friends, giddy with their own puppy love. They call each other "Ricky Licky" and "Jennster Junebug," have eyes for no one else, and then, after finally having intercourse, break up over a movie rental. Anarchist vagabond Shunt is Anthony's partner in his anti-conformity crimes: "I'm Shunt," he says, on Anthony's first day at work. "Welcome to corporate hell. Start screaming now." Although the ending is a little sudden--and although Anthony's long delay in realizing that a girl can't be "stolen" makes him seem like a bit of a meathead himself--Anderson's witty tale of a lovelorn boy and his corporate antagonists is both a tasty read and a stinging satire. Ages 14-up. (Aug.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Betty Hicks
Anthony is not great at being cool or at standing up for himself, but when he discovers Turner making out with his girlfriend, he vows revenge. His plan for retribution requires working at the same hamburger franchise as his rival, but Turner makes a fool of Anthony at every turn. Meanwhile, Anthony's major mechanisms for defense and winning girls, humor and sarcasm, aren't working well either. Anderson has captured the behavior and dialogue of teens in the nineties perfectly. However, the use of modern jargon, heavily laced with "like," dumbs down some of the characters and will quickly date this book. Hopefully teens, won't mind and will love the uninhibited directness of this hilarious book. The story is energized with imaginative vandals who correct grammar, clueless parents singing Monster Mash, and clever satire on everything from corporate America to cordless phones. In a refreshing departure from the problem novel, Anderson lays bare the disturbing possibility that "there is a certain ferocity you need, to be a teenager in America," and does it with energy and wit instead of angst and moralizing.
To quote KLIATT's Sept. 1999 review of the hardcover edition: Anthony takes a job at O'Dermott's, a fast-food restaurant, in order to get revenge on Turner, the nasty bully he caught making out with his now ex-girlfriend, Diana. Turner is a star employee... Anthony finally teams up with a fellow employee, an anarchist named Shunt who is looking to subvert the fast-food franchise from within. Together the two steal a condiment-dispensing troll from their rival, Burger Queen, and manage to start a war between the staffs of the two restaurants. There are funny observations and scenes, like the baseball game played in a watery bog... There's also a bit of profanity and a lot of crudity, but the genuine emotions here, interlaced with the humor, will draw readers in and have them on the side of Anthony the underdog in this tale of love and revenge. They'll appreciate the insider's view of the workings of fast-food restaurants, too, though this won't make them want to be employees anytime soon... A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 1999, Candlewick Press, 192p., $5.99. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick; KLIATT , November 2001 (Vol. 35, No. 6)
Library Journal
Gr 8-10-This lightweight, sometimes tedious spoof pokes fun at the inconstancies of the fast-food generation. Anthony takes a job at O'Dermott's restaurant to make life miserable for Turner, a boy whom he blames for the alienation of the affections of his girlfriend, Diana. With intricate plans of destruction in mind, Anthony places himself in a lose-lose situation, actually at the mercy of his rival, who is his superior at O'Dermott's. In antic and broad comedic situations, Turner causes on-the-job angst for Anthony, aka "The Wuss." Invited out after work with the duplicitous Turner and other staff, he is set up in a fight with workers from the competition, Burger Queen. Anthony's revenge plan is activated with the help of grillboy, anarchist Shunt; they steal the condiment troll from Burger Queen in a daring undercover-assault mission. An anonymous letter points the finger to O'Dermott's, in general, and Turner, in specific, and his cherished car is driven into a lake by angry Burger Queen employees. Victory is not sweet for Anthony, though; he still doesn't get it. Beaten to a bloody pulp by Turner, he finally has it spelled out to him by Diana that she went after Turner, and that she dumped Anthony. Duh! The boy's parents and eavesdropping neighbor are buffoons. Dialogue among the teenagers, particularly Anthony's love-besotted best friend and girlfriend, is annoying and unrealistic. Readers will enjoy Burger Wuss for the spoof that it is, but it's hard to drum up much sympathy for a dense protagonist who takes so long to learn that he's been an idiot.-Alice Casey Smith, Sayreville War Memorial High School, NJ Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Savaging young love, male adolescence, and—with tender attention to detail and wildly funny results—the fast food business, Anderson (Thirsty, 1997) pits a teenage doormat against a larger, smarter, nastier rival. Anthony, after seeing his girlfriend, Diana, making out with local stud, Turner, concocts an elaborate revenge: He gets hired at the O'Dermott's where Turner works, then puts into play Turner's beloved '85 Olds and a fiberglass, condiment-dispensing troll from the town's Burger Queen. Meanwhile, as he listens to his manager's mindless boosterism on one side and a cook's lurid accusations of corporate greed and hideous livestock abuse on the other, Anthony becomes Turner's designated victim, a target for put-downs, pranks, and periodic assaults. His revenge works perfectly, and Anthony knows true success when Turner's girlfriend asks him to confirm her suspicions of her boy's infidelities. Still, Anthony is a hero, and so his victory is a hollow one: "I feel like I became what I hate most. But a clumsy, stupid version." Ultimately, Turner beats Anthony to a pulp in front of costumed company mascot, Kermit O'Dermott, and a battalion of corporate big shots; Diana walks away in disgust; and Anthony, having lost at love, war, and employment, picks himself back up feeling more liberated than humiliated. Anderson plots this with the precision of a fast-food marketing campaign, but his hero is more human than high concept. Did somebody say McSatire? (Fiction. 13-15)

From the Publisher
"M.T. Anderson has an uncanny ear for how a generation speaks - his dialogue crackles with authenticity. But it is his humor, his satiric eye tempred with real feeling, that sets this book apart." - Kathryn Lasky — None

"Ferociously funny." - Tim Wynne-Jones — None

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Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
420L (what's this?)
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

I told them I was there for the interview. A beeper went off. For a second, the girl stared at me. The beeper was still going off. "That’s the quality control beeper," she explained. "I’ll go get Mike. He talks to people about working. Excuse me." She turned around. I smiled in a secret way. I thought, They will suspect nothing. I look as calm and normal as can be.
Mike was the manager. He wore blue, and everyone else wore green. He seemed very friendly and held out his hand. I shook it. He said, "I’m Mike. Nice to meet you. You’re Anthony?"
I said, "Yes. It’s nice to meet you, too."
He said, "Let’s sit down. Would you like a shake?" We walked out into the dining area. He said, "Now to talk, would you prefer a booth or a free-standing table?"
I shrugged. I said, "Booth, I guess."
He grinned. "Good!" he said. "That will be fine!"
We sat down at a booth. I carefully put my hands on my lap. Over my head was a cardboard mobile of Kermit O’Dermott, an elf who talked to hamburgers. The sun was coming through the windows and searing the tile floor and the plastic vines and rhododendrons.
I said, "It looks very cheerful in here today."
He said, "Isn’t it nice? Corporate Headquarters just sent us some new signage. It’s very effective, don’t you think? Now." He had a clipboard with him. My application was on it. I felt very nervous. I thought to myself, Green sateen. Green sateen. I thought this for private reasons. There are times when you have to hide what you’re really up to.
I said, "So." The cardboard Kermit O’Dermott was playing his magical harp. In commercials, it made beverages dance.
He said, "So. Could you tell me some things you could say about yourself?"
"Yes," I said. "I could tell you I’m sixteen—"
"Can you drive?"
"Yes," I said, "but I don’t have a car. I can walk here from home."
"Do you have any previous work experience?"
"Yes," I said. "I had a paper route for three years. I know that isn’t making burgers or anything, but, you know . . . "
He was looking out the window over my shoulder. There was a Kermit O’Dermott-themed jungle gym out there, and some kids were playing on it. He turned back to me and grinned. He said, "Good, good. The reason you would like to work at O’Dermott’s? Just a few words."
I could not tell him the real reason. I had prepared a clever and cheerful-sounding fake reason. I told him, "I really like people. I like meeting people and I like talking with them. People are so different, and it’s great to see people from all over. In a job like this, I would get to see all sorts of people that I couldn’t see otherwise. Maybe I’d learn something about people that I can’t even know yet."
He laughed. "That’s the spirit!" he said. "We work as a team here. We even play as a team." He looked out the window again at the kids on the jungle gym. "That’s how it is. Should kids be doing that?"
I turned around and looked out the window. I shrugged. I said, "I think kids pretty much always hit each other like that."
He said, "Little kids’ skulls are really soft, though. You don’t know that until you have your own kids. My wife just had kids."
"Oh," I said. "More than one?"
He said, "Two. Twins. Two twins."
I said, "I think the skull thickens after a few months or something."
He said, "Well, Anthony, it just so happens that we have a position open at the moment. Do you know Diana Gritt? She also goes to Taft High. She just quit and left a cashier position open."
I rubbed my knees with my fingertips. I considered evil. I thought, Green sateen. Green sateen. I said, "Oh, yeah? I know Diana Gritt."
He said, "Small world. I have a few more interviews this week, but I should be able to call you back pretty quick."
I said, "Really? That would be great."
He said, "Great. Now let’s talk about hours."
Through the plastic undergrowth I could see Turner come out of the back, dressed in green. I watched him. Turner was the reason I was there. Turner and anger. He stood behind his register. He ran his hand over his greasy blond crew cut. Mike and I talked about hours. I saw Turner see me. I thought that suddenly he had an ugly look on his face. He shook his head. I laughed to myself and looked again. Now I couldn’t tell if he had recognized me. I thought maybe the ugly look had just been him cleaning his molars with his tongue. Maybe he had not recognized me at all.
Mike and I were done with the interview. We stood up to shake hands. I banged my knee on the table. I hunched over. When I swore, it was quietly. Mike reached out to give me a hand. I tried to smile. I was bent over a little. I rubbed the knee. Mike was saying, "We are part of a team here. I hope you’ll become part of our team. I think you’ll really like it here."
He turned and walked toward the counter. Turner faced the other way. Before I left, I stood for a moment. I thought, Green sateen, and stared at him. I stared at his back. His neck was a boiled red. We stood there for a long time like that before I left.
Some paramedics were ordering Happy Lunches. Maybe for someone else. They pointed at the board. They specified their prizes.

Burger Wuss. Copyright (c) 1999 M.T. Anderson. Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"M.T. Anderson has an uncanny ear for how a generation speaks - his dialogue crackles with authenticity. But it is his humor, his satiric eye tempred with real feeling, that sets this book apart." - Kathryn Lasky — None

"Ferociously funny." - Tim Wynne-Jones — None

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