Eight books in and still good. Jeff Kinney is one of the most consistently funny writers/cartoonists working right now. Kinney has placed Greg Heffley in the same temporal suspension that all great cartoon characters suffer through. Like Charlie Brown or Eric Cartman, he will never grow older. And this is good, because that means Greg never needs to learn from his mistakes. And that means these books will always be funny. Charles Schulz’ famous rule about comics—it’s the art of doing the same thing over and over again without repeating yourself—is evident here. This book is the same as all the other ones—Greg misinterprets situations, tries to avoid doing work, hates school—but it is still all new and surprising. One of the great and consistently funny things in these books, and especially here, is how adults are portrayed. Grown-ups aren’t idiots and they’re not mean, they just don’t get it. In Hard Luck, there are things like the “Find a Friend” station in the school playground, the school’s “Hero Point” system for encouraging good behavior, and Greg’s mom’s stash of replacements of his old favorite stuffed animal. These are all hilariously misguided attempts to ease kids through emotional trauma--well-meaning, but entirely tone-deaf. I don’t know if the intended adolescent reader will ever see these books as laugh-out-loud funny as adults do. It’s too close to what they actually go through.