I mentioned last week that I’ve found a few new middle grade authors through my agent search*, and here’s another one – Matthew Cody. I read POWERLESS last summer and loved the way he turned things upside down with a main character who doesn’t have superpowers. When THE DEAD GENTLEMAN came out last fall, I quickly added it to my TBR pile. I even almost had the opportunity to meet Matthew Cody when he came to St. Louis for a signing, but it wasn’t meant to be. I had other plans that night and couldn’t go.
So, on to my MMGM. Here’s the blurb from the publisher:
The dead are up and walking, and the Gentleman is at the door…
Featuring a kid hero, time travel, and otherworld portals in unexpected places (maybe there are monsters under your bed), The Dead Gentleman is a wild ride between parallel New York City timestreams—1901 and today. Eleven-year-old Tommy Learner is a street orphan and an unlikely protege to the Explorers, a secret group dedicated to exploring portals, the hidden doorways to other worlds. But while investigating an attercop (man-eating spider) in the basement of an old hotel, Tommy is betrayed and trapped. And it’s then that his world collides with that of modern-day Jezebel Lemon, who—until the day she decides to explore her building’s basement—had no bigger worries than homework and boys.
Now, Jezebel and Tommy must thwart the Dead Gentleman – a legendary villain whose last unconquered world is our own planet Earth, where the dead stay dead. Until now. Can two kids put an end to this ancient evil and his legions of Gravewalkers?
So, here are five things I loved about THE DEAD GENTLEMAN:
1. Multiple points of view – I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with multiple points of view in which one character is in first person and the others are in third person. I’m sure they exist–I just haven’t read one. The narrative alternated between Tommy (first) and Jezebel (third) with the Gentleman (third) thrown in a few times for good measure. Tommy was the character who tied everyone else together, so it made sense for him to be in first person. And yet, in the end, Jezebel had a very important role as well–to the point where I wondered if she was the true hero of the story. I really enjoyed the way Matthew Cody played with point of view and would be interested in seeing more authors try it–if they can do it as well as he did.
2. The time travel twist – As I was planning this post, I debated about whether to mention the twist that took me totally by surprise. Then, when I went to find the publisher’s description, I discovered it shouldn’t have been a surprise at all. It says it right there: time travel. However, I read this book on my Kindle, so I didn’t have a back cover to scan before I started reading the novel. I’m sure I read the description when the book first came out, but I’d forgotten. Since the publisher already gives it away, that means I can talk about it. I was happily reading along, learning about Tommy and Jezebel, and then, Bam! Jezebel is traveling through time. I totally didn’t see that coming. Or all the crazy stuff that happens next. I’m kind of glad I wasn’t forewarned, though, because I really enjoy a good twist.
3. The genre mish-mash – I honestly don’t know how this book is classified. Is it steampunk? Paranormal? Science fiction? There are crazy gadgets, submarines before their time, ghosts, dinosaurs, a vampire, other worlds, magic, time travel and even dinosaurs (and they’re not in prehistoric times). To be honest, I don’t care what you call it. I loved it all!
4. The quandary – The end of the book presents this question about the space-time continuum that made me sit and ponder. I love it when a book does that–makes me wonder how it could all work. I’m not going to say any more because I don’t want to give anything away. Just go read it!
5. The friendship – I really enjoyed the way the friendship developed between Tommy and Jezebel. They balanced each other out–the impulsive, brave, resourceful boy and the cautious, thoughtful, courageous girl. I liked that there wasn’t any hint of a romance there. They were two adventurers working together to solve an apocalyptic problem. And in the end, it was that balance that made them successful.
I could list several other things I loved, but I’m going to stick to my format. This book left me hanging, and I asked Matthew Cody via Twitter if there would be a sequel. He told me to “stay tuned.” I certainly will!
Have you read THE DEAD GENTLEMAN? If so, let me know your thoughts.
*For querying authors, Matthew Cody is represented by Kate Schafer Testerman of KT Literary.