EJ and the Ironic Reading Material

Lately I’ve been reading a lot of YA despite the fact that I’m about as far from YAhood as one could possibly get and still be animated. I like YA. The stories I’ve been reading are original and fresh with some really quality writing. A. S. King’s The Dust of 100 Dogs comes to mind as does Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, Heather Brewer’s Eighth Grade Bites and Lynn Sinclair’s Key to Aten series. I’m sure that the publishing industry, obsessed as they are with the ‘bottom line’, will screw this up eventually as they have with my usual genre of Suspense/Thriller. With the possible exception of Barry Eisler, Lee Child and a very small handful of others, the S/T genre would fit nicely into that old Reagan quip about redwoods: If you’ve read one Suspense/Thriller, you’ve read ’em all.

Alex and the Ironic Gentleman. I don’t think this is a YA book, more like Middle Grade, or MG if you’re in the know about such things. Frankly, all these genres and sub-genres and sub-sub-genres confuse the hell out of me but I’m pretty sure Alex and the Ironic Gentleman is MG. For one thing, the protagonist is a ten and one half year old girl. I don’t think that quite qualifies as Young Adult. Maybe Old Child or Middle of the Road Child or Almost a Teenager But Not Quite but I haven’t, yet, heard of genres such as these. The other thing that leads me to classify it as MG is the story telling style which I will go on about later.

In a nutshell, so to speak, Alex and the Ironic Gentleman is the story of Alex Morningside and her 6th grade teacher Mr. Underwood. Mr. Underwood is the rightful heir of the Wigpowder fortune, a hidden pirate’s trove which no one knows the location of and which a competing family, the Steeles, are trying to claim as their own. Alex manages to find the map to the location but not before Mr. Underwood is kidnapped. The rest of the story details the adventure’s Alex encounters as she tries to rescue her beloved teacher and secure for him his rightful fortune.

‘Nuff said, as Stan Lee would say. Hey, you didn’t think I was going to give it all away, did you? Suffice it to say there are some wonderfully drawn out characters in this story and the adventures will tickle you silly.

I will say that I had a bit of a hard time getting into this book. Not because of the writing, to be sure. And certainly not because of the story. All that was quite impressive. It was the story telling style that threw me for a bit, one which I haven’t encountered in a very long time. That and, I suppose, the age of the protag. Hard to identify with a ten and a half year old when there’s a half century difference between she and thee. But once I opened myself to, and actually remembered, the wonder and joy of a life at its beginning, I really fell into this and found myself embracing fully the style Ms Kress uses to tell Alex’s tale. Trust me, you’ll love it.

And, just so the FTC doesn’t get into my case here, no one has paid me for this review. Hell, Adrienne, who I know from my time on the writer’s forum Backspace, has no idea I’m even writing this and, considering how little traffic I get on this blog, I doubt it will help her much anyway. Still, if you are the one or two sorry souls who do follow my blog, please buy Alex and the Ironic Gentleman. If not for yourself than for someone you love. Trust me, they’ll get a hell of a kick out of it.

I’ve just started reading Ms Kress’ Timothy and the Dragon’s Gate. Maybe I’ll let you know what I think of it later.

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