I have for many years steered away from reading and reviewing YA books, My son is grown, as are most of my nephews and nieces. But then I became a granddad, and suddenly I rediscovered a need to become part of that world, knowing what's good out there so I can make sure I provide the right books and good books for my granddaughter to read, to help give her a love for reading.
Does The Chronicles of the Egg "Deadweather and Sunrise" live up to the exciting cover art? Yes I was very happy to discover it did. A little bit of historical flavour (no particular accurate place but just the feel and objects, a pseudo 18th / 19th century British Empire)
Egg (real name Egbert) lives his story in a funny likeable way, and in a way that lacks any self pity for his circumstances or the things life throws at him, a great lesson for kids today, tailor that with the very dry sense of humour that the author (Rodkey) seems to have and which he lets permeate the book. His world building which is so important for Fantasy is excellent, delivered to grow with the imagination rather than lumpy sections of information dumping.
I for one am looking forward to the next instalment, and really do recommend this for all ages.
DEADWEATHER, a sweaty little pirate-infested island, is home to EGG, thirteen years old and prey to a pair of cruel and stupid older siblings.
But when Egg's family disappears in a freak accident, he finds himself living on SUNRISE island with the glamorous Pembroke family and their feisty daughter Millicent. Finally, life seems perfect.
Until someone tries to throw him off a cliff.
Suddenly, Egg is lost in a world of cutthroat pirates and powerful villains. Only Millicent - and a one-handed, possibly deranged cabin boy - can help him as he hurtles into the deadliest adventure of his life . .
on 16 July 2012
Despite its unwieldy name, "Chronicles of Egg: Deadweather and Sunrise" is fast-paced and funny, with a constantly twisting story set in an offbeat and inventive world.
Also, it has pirates.
This is the first volume in a series, and while it tells a complete and satisfying story in itself, it leaves a lot of questions for future volumes to answer. I'm holding off on giving it that last star until Mr. Rodkey writes the next couple books and I see whether they're as satisfying as this one.
But in the meantime: Funny. Fast paced. Has pirates. How can you go wrong?
EDITED AS OF AUGUST 2014: The last book in the series has now come out and all questions have been answered satisfactorily, so I'm giving Rodkey the extra star.
on 9 September 2013
I won't curse this story with the much over-used "better than a book about kids on broomsticks" style comment. All such comparisons are bound to disappoint, and in any case would invite comparisons with other books that this one defies.
Egg, known to his family as Egbert (for his sins, which appear to have been legion, but mostly committed when he was too young to understand) is a boy just touching 13 years old and on the brink of a fantastic adventure that will rip him out of his small, somewhat smelly home on an island aptly named Deadweather. Growing up surrounded by veteran pirates of assorted shapes and missing appendages, and the younger brother of nasty siblings, less aptly called Adonis and Venus, Egg is a boy with a natural gentleness and a love of books. That the only book he read for a long time was "Citrus Cultivation" is hardly his fault. His life changes, however, when he meets Millicent...oh wait, no I am getting ahead of myself. His life changes when his father discovers an ancient secret long buried on his plantation. No I think I had it right the first time - it was definitely Millicent.
Anyway take my word for it, this is a cracking good read. There is everything in this book a young adult reader would want. There are pirates and treasure, twisted and evil men scheming and plotting. There is murder and theft and some shockingly bad food. There are tourists... wait..tourists? Yes really! Tourists. There is a one handed boy called Guts with a penchant for biting people and, oh, more pirates too. And did I mention Millicent?
This is the first book by this talented writer, but it doesn't read like a first book. It reads like the work of someone who can write like a pro, has written Hollywood scripts for some first rate films, and who has a sense of humour every bit as hilarious as JK Rowling or Angie Sage. (Yes I promised no comparisons, but see I am just telling you that this is one very funny writer, and if you don't believe me, check out the letters to his kid on his blog. This story is not at all like kids on brooms. Believe me, it hardly even mentions magic at all. It is not like that).
But yes, the writer has written before - just not books. That is a pity and I can only hope he rectifies that by writing many more, because I devoured this one and so would anyone else.
Age range? Well there is nothing in these books that would stop you giving it to younger children, and in the same way that people can love... er... books about kids on brooms... from age 8 up, this one could also be enjoyed that young, but it is really aimed at the young adult market. As to older readers - well I am well above the target range and loved this, and again in the same way kids on brooms can have a kind of universal appeal, you won't go wrong by giving this one a try.
Egbert "Egg" Masterson has grown up on the Island of Deadweather. His family runs a fruit plantation, and the rest of the island is overrun by pirates. It's about as pleasant as it sounds.
On Egg's thirteenth birthday, his dad surprises the entire family by announcing they are traveling to the neighboring island of Sunrise. Life on this island is pleasant and fun and about as opposite as you can get from life on Deadweather. Trips there are always a treat.
Except within hours of landing there, Egg finds himself alone. Soon, someone has tried to kill him. Alone and scared, can Egg figure out why someone wants him dead and stay alive long enough to get home?
To be honest, I probably wouldn't have picked this book up if I hadn't won it in a contest. And I'm very glad I did. The book was always entertaining, even in the beginning which could be a tad slow as it set up the world and introduced us to the characters. But once it got going, I had a hard time putting it down. There is a reason I read the final 120 pages in one day. I didn't want to stop.
While not a true fantasy, it isn't quite our own world either. I enjoyed this parallel world. Of course, the two island setting and lots of action with pirates certainly helped. The characters were engaging and there was some fun humor as well.
This is a book that will appeal to boys and girls of all ages. I'm glad I won a copy and can't wait to find out what happens to Egg next.
13-year-old Egg lives with his brother, sister and dad on a plantation on Deadweather Island, a small pirate-infested island on the far edge of the known world. Life is hard. Beaten up by his siblings and (occasionally) his dad his only company is an ignorant, greedy tutor called Percy and Quint, their cook. His only fun comes from the small number of books that get brought to the island.
When Egg's dad decides that they all have to make an urgent trip to nearby Sunrise Island, Egg's delighted. Sunrise Island is a paradise compared to Deadweather and there they meet the rich and powerful Roger Pembroke and his beautiful, stubborn daughter Millicent. But a freak balloon accident sees Egg's family disappear over the ocean and although he's offered a home by the Pembrokes, he soon finds his life threatened for reasons that he doesn't understand. Forced to go on the run, he must navigate a world of piracy, treachery and murder where his only allies are Millicent and a one-handed boy called Guts with profound psychological issues who might just kill Egg himself ...
Geoff Rodkey's middle grade novel (the first in a trilogy) is filled with enough pirates and bloodthirsty adventure to keep both boy and girl readers happy.
Egg is a remarkably resilient character, less bothered by the frequent beatings he suffers than the reader may be. My main criticism of the book is that the violence he suffers is so casually delivered and his reaction so matter-of-fact that I thought it underplayed the seriousness of the abuse. However, I believed his relief at his family's disappearance and could well understand why he was so keen to stay with the Pembroke's in their idyllic home. I enjoyed his growing sense of resolve about wanting to take control of his life.
Millicent is an interesting character and I liked the dilemma she faces as Egg makes her see things that she doesn't want to believe. Unfortunately the romance between her and Egg was a little icky, mainly because they're too young to be thinking about marriage. I loved Guts, a psychopathic one-handed cabin boy who's known nothing but cruelty and who's been damaged as a result. Pragmatic, bloodthirsty and with modest aims, I look forward to seeing what happens to him next.
Ultimately this is a fun, fast-paced read that should satisfy any young reader looking for pirate adventure.
on 31 July 2012
Suspenseful and fun and heartwarming. Guts, Egg, Pembroke, Venus, Adonis - great characters and stories. Loved it. This is definitely a cross-over book for adults too, the way Princess Bride was.
on 30 July 2012
I read this with my 10-year-old daughter. At bedtime we read a chapter each night, which is why it took us longer than usual to finish the book. Egg is a wonderful character: sensible, intelligent, resourceful and plucky; but what I particularly liked about him was that he was also unsure of himself and very human. All of the characters were well-drawn, and although many of them were pretty abhorrent personalities, they were complex - not all good, and not all bad, and sometimes appearing to be one when they were in fact the opposite. The pacing was great, and many nights my daughter was sad that the chapter had come to an end as we wanted to know what came next. Guts and Quint were also favorites. As a very small criticism, I do wish that there were some better/more female characters, as Millicent, despite being the heroine, is fairly repellent as a person to start with (spoiled, bossy, arrogant) but she does redeem herself quite cleverly at the end, so I can see how she is evolving for the better and I look forward to the positive evolution of this in the next two books. I am also curious to learn more about Mrs Pembroke who I don't think is as bad as Millicent thinks she is! However my daughter did not point this out, this is just me imposing my adult/parent view on things. Interestingly, my daughter did not like the idea of Egg being smitten with Millicent at first sight...she thought this was just a bit silly...overall, though, we really enjoyed the book, which is beautifully written and conceived and we look forward to the rest of the series.
on 13 July 2012
I bought this book for my kids, but before they got to it, I picked it up out of curiosity. I was HOOKED! It is action-packed, funny, and features a terrific, thoughtful hero, a smart, brave heroine, and a whole lot of pirates. The story is fast-paced and exciting. At the same time the characters are so well-described, and the dialogue is so well-written,that I had no trouble imagining what each person looked and sounded like. Rodkey has conjured up a fascinating, lively, colorful world of characters.
The hero, Egg, is a courageous, intrepid, interesting kid who has real self-knowledge and thinks through his actions toward others and tries to do the honorable thing under almost-impossible circumstances. I also like that Egg, having been abused all his life, has compassion for the underdog and the downtrodden. He sees through the pretensions of the powerful and empathizes with those who are exploited.
I LOVE the heroine, Millicent. There are so few good, strong, female characters in children's literature, who aren't princesses or cute or looking to be rescued, while Millicent is intelligent and willing to fight for herself and for those she cares about.
This book is excellent reading for kids 9 and up, and for precocious younger readers, but adults will devour it, too. Note: there is some violence of the man-thrown-overboard, stabbed-by-a-pirate, or pushed-off-a-mountain kind, but it is less frightening than anything in Harry Potter. I can't recommend this book highly enough. Buy it for your kids, your kids' friends (it's a great birthday gift), nieces and nephews, grandkids, etc. Just don't be surprised if you have to harass them to STOP READING it, because it's impossible to put down! I can't wait for Book Two!
on 13 July 2012
Picked it up and couldn't put it down. Pacing was great, lots of twists and turns and the characters were each very unique. Can't wait for the second installment!
on 8 January 2013
I bought this book for my 10 year old daughter but thought I should read it first. I took it on holiday with me and could hardly put it down, it was that much fun to read. From the start I was hooked by the life and trials of Egg, a 13 year old boy living with his hard-working but (benevolently?) negligent father and two truly horrible older siblings. Together with a motley crew of washed up pirates, they tend the family's ugly fruit plantation on the slopes of the island of Deadweather. Everything changes one day when Egg's father comes down the mountain with a slip of parchment and a faraway look in his eye, mumbling about needing to find a Native. The family sets sail for the neighbouring island of Sunrise, where everything will change for them.... Egg is a great protagonist - cerebral, intuitive, and quick to react in the face of danger (or so he learns). Also he is extremely moral and conscientious despite the dastardly behaviour of nearly everyone around him, which I really appreciate as a parent reading a book for children. And I think Millicent is a great female character - clever, resourceful, fearless - she can hold her own against the boys. I wouldn't mind for my girls to take some lessons from her in living boldly. Geoff Rodkey has created a completely absorbing world for their adventure. I can't wait for the next volume!