Saturday, December 1, 2012

Deadweather and Sunrise by Geoff Rodkey (The Chronicles of Egg)

As a kid, I used to fantasize about running away and becoming a trapeze artist in the circus. I practiced my act in the tops of trees, on the roof of the house, on swing-sets  banisters... basically anything high. Mom, wanting me to survive adolescence,  put my hyperactive limbs in gymnastics. I made my best friend spot me as I learned to do flips. I stood on the edge of the chair and instructed her to grasp the waistband of my shorts and make sure I didn't land on my head. I should have worried about her head. When my legs rocketed through the rotation she leaned forward too much and I caught her under the chin. I landed on my feet and found her on the floor knocked out cold. Yes, she is still my best friend, but she never helped me with another acrobatic move. Today I just dream (literally) of flipping as a flexible 13-year-old. Egbert Masterson is 13, and he too, likes to fantasize. He fantasizes about traveling to exotic places found in the books he's read, or eating delicious jelly bread, or rescuing Millicent (the girl he has a crush on) from pirates. Not only do his fantasies come true they careen out-of-control in this non-stop action adventure involving murder, cutthroat pirates, assassins, and treasure.

Egbert lives on Deadweather on a fruit farm with his father, Hok, brother, Adonis, and sister, Venus. His mother died giving birth to him and he is hated, beat, and verbally abused by the trio. Hok hires tutors for the children because his wife wanted them educated and while the first tutor did teach Egbert how to read, the second tutor didn't teach him anything. But that was okay because he brought books and Egbert continued his education by teaching himself. When Hok discovers something on the farm, the group heads to Sunrise Island, except Daddo doesn't tell his kiddos exactly why they are going there. When Egbert loses his family, is almost tossed off a cliff, and then captured by pirates, you would think things couldn't get worse, but they do. Egg is forced to try and figure out what his dad found that was so important that people are trying to kill him to get it.

The funny pirate talk makes for some good ole fun - it might be 'ard fer sum young-ins ta understand, but ye will have ta decide fer yerself.  The part where the pirate goes after Millicent with intentions that aren't honorable might be confusing also, but I can see young readers not understanding how the whole situation transpired. The characters are so extreme they are funny - almost cartoonish - and while there is violence it is on the slapstick side for the most part. The deaths occur willy-nilly and there is no remorse or much thinking about them. Egg doesn't feel sorry for himself and his decency and humor balance out the other kooky characters, as well as, lighten the violent parts. Egg explains why he likes Millicent's cocky, confident attitude which adds a nice touch to the character development. She's a strong female character with a mind of her own and take-charge attitude. The plot has many unpredictable twists because of her and her actions at the end make sense in light of her personality traits.

The loose ends are not tied up and it seems obvious that there will be a sequel. We do not learn the details of what happened to Egg's family. We also don't know why the most fearsome pirate of the seas went out of his way to help Egg. Maybe they are related? Maybe he's Egg's uncle? Other unresolved issues at the end of the story are the two men hell-bent on killing Egg walk away with no intention of not going after him another time and the treasure has not been found. The end screams, to be continued... The only resolution happens for Millicent. I also wanted to know Guts history and how he ended up with the pirates. The world-building is excellent and characters engaging. I look forward to book 2. Let the treasure hunt begin.  Oy!

Reading Level 5.2

4 out of 5 Smileys

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