Monday, April 7, 2014

Guest Review: Deadweather and Sunrise by Geoff Rodkey

Deadweather and Sunrise
(The Chronicles of Egg, book 1)
by Geoff Rodkey
Pub: 2012
295 p.

Summary: It's tough to be thirteen, especially when somebody's trying to kill you.
Not that Egg's life was ever easy, growing up on sweaty, pirate-infested Deadweather Island with no company except an incompetent tutor and a pair of unusually violent siblings who hate his guts. But when Egg's father hustles their family off on a mysterious errand to fabulously wealthy Sunrise Island, then disappears with the siblings in a freak accident, Egg finds himself a long-term guest at the mansion of the glamorous Pembroke family and their beautiful, sharp-tongued daughter Millicent. Finally, life seems perfect. Until someone tries to throw him off a cliff.
Suddenly, Egg's running for his life in a bewildering world of cutthroat pirates, villainous businessmen, and strange Native legends. The only people who can help him sort out the mystery of why he's been marked for death are Millicent and a one-handed, possibly deranged cabin boy.
Come along for the ride. You'll be glad you did.

Thoughts: This book is kind of like The Pirates of the Caribbean as imagined by Roald Dahl. There is a stark quality to the world in which Egbert lives and an edge of dark humor to the way he tells his story that puts me very much in mind of Dahl, though I've heard it compared to Lemony Snicket as well. But even with that darkness (or perhaps because of it) I would not hesitate to place this book in the hands of a middle grade kid, and actually would feel much more comfortable sharing this with them than watching, for example, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. For all that Egg finds himself caught up in a war between pirates and other, more controlling forces, the author is mindful of his audience. Swear words are bleeped and gore is glossed over, but the book never talks down to its reader. If you are not a 13-year-old raised on a volcanic island there are several plot twists that you will probably see coming, but Egg's narrative voice is refreshing and honest and he treats the reader as an equal in his adventure.

This series is also an example of why I love adventure-fantasy epics. Fantasy doesn't exist in a world of rainbows and unicorns where bad things only happen to people who deserve it, and it doesn't have to exist in a world of darkness where evil overlords sap all the joy from life and death is the only guarantee. Fantasy tells tales of people who have problems much like our own: overbearing mothers, abusive siblings, parents who lie, and people who will stop at nothing to get what they want. Fantasy is for teaching children how to stand up for what they believe in, how to deal with life when you don't win the day, that real friends are the ones who stand by you when everything gets dark, and that sometimes fighting isn't your best option. The world is a dark and scary place, and kids know that and should be aware of it, but they should know also that there are people who can be trusted, and allies are sometimes found in the most unlikely of places.


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