Monday, January 03, 2011

What Looks Like A Compelling Novel, Acts Like A Compelling Novel And Is A Compelling Novel?

(Image from Indiebound)

Losers like Micheal, Tommy, Mixer, and Bones don't get respect. If they're not being completely ignored, they're being eyed with suspicion. They look like thugs, they act like thugs, they are, for all intents and purposes, thugs. Except for weird Mr. Haberman, no one expects them to care about school. It's obvious they probably won't be graduating high school, let alone applying to Harvard. But Haberman calls them "gentlemen," asks questions like he might actually get answers, and takes great pains to teach them remedial English. The guy's strange, for sure.

It's not until Tommy goes missing that Micheal, Mixer and Bones start looking at their English teacher in a whole new light. Haberman's always been odd, but he's been taking it to whole new levels lately. Could he have had something to do with Tommy's disappearance? Why is he assigning Crime and Punishment now and why does every lecture he gives on the book seem to have a double meaning? Is he trying to send Tommy's friends some kind of message?

Fifteen-year-old Micheal Benton (who's so screwed up his name isn't even spelled right) is determined to figure out what happened to Tommy. The kid may have been a loser, but Micheal's not about to let anyone - especially a teacher - get away with murdering his friend. He's got a plan, but when that plan goes horribly awry, Micheal finds himself trapped in his own escalating drama. What happened to Tommy? Who will pay for what happened because of him? And, most importantly, what will become of the boys Mr. Haberman always called 'gentlemen'?

Gentlemen, the first novel by Michael Northrop (author of the recently-released Trapped), is a gritty mystery told in the frank, authentic voice of a compelling anti-hero. Since Micheal cares so little about what happens to himself, I really shouldn't have either. And yet, I did. His tightly-woven, fast-paced story kept me enthralled, despite its chilling rawness. Although I wouldn't hand this book to anyone under 16, it would make a perfect pick for reluctant readers. It's a dark, riveting story, filled with complex characters who crawl right under your skin. Gentlemen's not exactly light, fluffy reading, but it is taut, hypnotic and enthralling. Thugs and all.

(Readalikes: Reminded me of Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers)

Grade: B

If this were a movie, it would be rated: R for language (no F-bombs), violence, sexual content and depictions of underrage smoking, drinking and criminal activity

To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of Gentlemen from the generous folks at Scholastic. Thank you!

6 comments:

  1. I read this one a few weeks back and have to say I didn't enjoy it as much as I was hoping. It was well written but I just couldn't connect with it.

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  2. Loved, loved, loved this book. And just wrote about his new one today, coincidentally!

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  3. Picked this up because of that interesting cover, and very glad I did. Very sinister, and dark. I really enjoyed it. I have Trapped on my TBR.

    Great review!

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  4. First of all, I love your subject line. So original!

    I've heard so much good stuff about this one, I think I'm going to have to pick it up eventually despite the fact that the plot line doesn't necessarily immediately appeal to me.

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  5. Loved this one! And here's the story behind that gripping cover:

    http://www.melissacwalker.com/blog/2009/03/cover_stories_gentlemen_by_mic.html

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  6. Oops, needed a shortener for that link:
    http://su.pr/2gSEqL

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