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The Dead Gentleman

3.70  ·  Rating Details  ·  261 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
A many-worlds adventure novel from the acclaimed author of Powerless!

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 protégé of the Explorers, a secret group dedicated to exploring portals—the hidden doorways to other worlds. But in the basement of an old hotel, h
Hardcover, 283 pages
Published November 8th 2011 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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The Jupiter Chronicles by Leonardo RamirezThe Flight To Brassbright by Lori Alden HolutaThe Peculiar by Stefan BachmannLarklight by Philip ReeveFreaks by Kieran Larwood
Children's Steampunk
8th out of 13 books — 33 voters
The Clay Lion by Amalie JahnThe Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis by Sharon LedwithKnot in Time by Alan  TuckerNumber 13 by M.G. WellsTime Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone
YA + MG Time Travel
107th out of 167 books — 155 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,024)
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Shanshad Whelan
A middle grade steampunk time-travel adventure! I read Cody's Powerless a few years ago and loved it. He hasn't lost his touch, that much is evident. The subject matter of this book may be less familiar to young readers than the superhero realm of the last book, but I think any middle grade reader looking for some wild adventure may find this a good read. Lots of fun!

And there's room for more stories with our heroes in the future!
Jan 03, 2012 Betsy rated it really liked it
Steampunk will never supplant some of the better known genres out there in the hearts and minds of children. Kids walk into my library every day asking for fantasy, mysteries, funny books, scary books, and what have you. They don't tend to ask for science fiction unless it's part of a school assignment, and if you ask them if they'd like some Steampunk they look at you like you've started speaking in tongues. The word means nothing to them (and very little to quite a few adults as well). Nonethe ...more
Jun 08, 2016 Joshua rated it it was ok
There are many exceptional elements to The Dead Gentleman. These include an extraordinarily terrifying villain, a society of interdimensional explorers, an awesome steampunk submarine, a snarky, sensible heroine, a breathtaking climax, and an inventive mythology surrounding the backstory. It is therefore a profound disappointment that Matthew Cody does not possess the requisite skill to weave all of these elements into a good story. He tries, and you can tell that he tries, which makes his failu ...more
Jan 20, 2016 Sarah rated it really liked it
Tommy is a street urchin-turned-Explorer in 1900; Jezebel, an ordinary girl in modern New York City. Their paths cross because the basement of her apartment building contains a portal to an abominable evil that he has vowed to stop. Although separated by a century, the two must work together to keep the dreadful Dead Gentleman from extinguishing all life on Earth, and off it, too. Tommy's steampunk world, Jezebel's monster-ridden Manhattan, and the other realms they visit are all vividly-imagine ...more
Jack Lacey
Dec 03, 2015 Jack Lacey rated it it was amazing
This book is amazing. It is full of adventure and suspense. You never can make a prediction that is correct! I like the imagination that Matthew Cody has. For it is full of it! It is just like a little kids nightmare, like there really is a monster under your bed! I like the names of all of the characters, and Matthew Cody even made up new monsters, like the harvesters and attercrops! This book is just very mysterious when you get into it. I like the whole format of it. It is just a really great ...more
Apr 16, 2015 Jillian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I quite liked this title!

It started out as very Steapmunk-meets-Ghostbusters, and just sort of went uphill from there. Now I desperately need MORE in this world! More about the Academy, more about Bernard and Tommy and the Captain, and more about what happens next. This universe is infinite, and I really want to see all that it has to offer!

As a note, I also thought this title was excellent at not treating its child readers like....well, like children. There were definite stakes, and everything
Nov 27, 2015 Kate rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! It shares three different perspectives. At first there is only two, and they are totally different stories but they all tie in to each other at the end. In the beginning it gives you a peek of what happens in the middle. I would recommend this book to people age 11 and up because it does have some scary parts in it. In this book there is love, hate and a lot of sacrifice. Matthew cody grabs the readers from the first word and doesn't let go until the last word. I really enjoye ...more
Sep 06, 2015 Natalie rated it it was ok

Had an interesting premise, and the first chapter was intriguing, but then nothing was happening.

I'm also not a huge fan of switching perspectives, and I hate flashbacks, so when you combine the two, it's pretty much guaranteed I won't be interested.

I'm going to put this out and see if any of the fifth graders like it. Will return with the results.
The Dead Gentleman is middle grade steampunk with plenty of action and a rapid fire pace that will keep Tweens engaged. Tommy Learner who prior to becoming an Explorer, was a street kid getting by on his wits and his penchant for thievery. When Jezebel Lemon discovers her bedroom closet is a portal she and Tommy end up meeting and joining forces against the Dead Gentleman. The Dead Gentleman is more undead than dead and is in search of a rare artifact that will help you conquer Earth. This book ...more
Apr 21, 2014 Erica rated it liked it
When Jezebel first sees Tommy, she thinks he's a ghost. When she finds out the truth, it's even stranger. Tommy is a member of the Explorers' Society, a group that knows how to unlock hidden portals to other worlds. But sometimes when they go to these other worlds, something dark follows them back to Earth. The Dead Gentleman is building an army and preparing to take over. After he attacks the headquarters of the Explorers' Society, Tommy and Jezebel are all that stand between humanity and the a ...more
Becky B
Tommy Learner is an apprentice Explorer. Which means he travels between various worlds through portals and explores. It also means he has extended experience fighting the monsters that live in closets and under beds and in basements (all of which are seriously nasty beasties and deserve the fear kids give them). Tommy was originally a street thief in the Bowery of New York City in the 1800s, until he stumbled across a handoff in a back alley involving a peculiar mechanical bird (which Tommy snat ...more
IndyPL Kids Book Blog
Mar 06, 2012 IndyPL Kids Book Blog rated it it was amazing
When a long forgotten basement door is uncovered in the lobby of Jezebel’s apartment building she can’t keep herself from taking a look. What could be down the rickety steps in the damp, cement darkness? A boy actually. And he’s got a message for Jezebel.

“I don’t have much time. But you’ve got to be warned. Keep safe and trust your instincts. Be careful. Be smart. Be afraid. The Dead Gentleman’s Coming.” (page 26)

Then he disappears. Like, poof! Gone. Be afraid. Check! The rest? Not so much!

The f
Sep 14, 2011 Sara rated it really liked it
Shelves: steampunk
Steampunk, time travel, and, dare I say it… zombies? Matthew Cody delivers all of the above with aplomb in his forthcoming book “The Dead Gentleman.” The story centers on two children, excuse me, young persons. Tommy is a street thief in the New York at the dawn of the 20th century, and Jezebel, is an average young lady of today. Tommy’s adventures start when he steals a clockwork bird from a rather dead looking gentleman, who nevertheless, resents the loss of his property. The flight from the D ...more
Kater Cheek
Apr 09, 2012 Kater Cheek rated it liked it
I really enjoyed Matthew Cody's first book, POWERLESS, so I was delighted when a copy of Cody's latest MG fantasy THE UNDEAD GENTLEMAN arrived in the mail.

Unabashedly steampunk, this novel throws steampunk elements at the reader like a magician flinging cards. Submarines! Goggles! Mechanical birds! Time travel! One of the two protagonists, Tommy Lerner, even comes from the right time period. Tommy's an Explorer, last of a secret society devoted to exploring the hidden mysteries of the world. Jez
Mar 28, 2014 Anne rated it really liked it
Tommy is an orphan in the 19th century. When he steals a mechanical canary from creepy skeleton (the Dead Gentleman), he gets involved in a world threatening battle of good versus evil. He becomes a member of the Explorers Society, exploring portals, worlds, and traveling through time. He meets Jezebel Lemon and they join forces for a fast-moving action-packed steampunk adventure.
The door is left wide open for a sequel, but this story is complete (ie, no horrible cliff hanger).
Feb 04, 2014 M. rated it liked it
The second half of this book is terrific. Having enough patience to get to the second half is a problem. The narrative style is confusing. The story cuts between Tommy, a child explorer in roughly 1900, apparently being betrayed by a friend and killed, to Tommy in present times sort of appearing in a hotel basement, to Jezebel in present times encountering the sort of Tommy in said basement and trying to figure out what's happening. Once the stories meet up, about half way though the book, the s ...more
Maggie Cornelison
Jan 11, 2015 Maggie Cornelison rated it it was ok
I didn't really like this book as it was rather slow and the two different points of view was rather confusing. I thought that although it had a good idea, it lacked a good storyline. I would have written it entirely from the point of view of either jezebel or tommy but not both. Could have been better if it was separate stories in the same series.
Jun 30, 2015 Gavin rated it it was amazing
I loved this book!!! There are no words to describe how I feel. It was just so unique and the character were so real. Just the way they quarreled made me feel like I had said the same thing to one of my friends. The whole idea of the gentleman destroying the world kept me on my feet until the very last page.
Jun 20, 2012 Susie rated it liked it
This was recommended when Child-Lit listserv members were sharing time travel titles. My rating is partly colored by the fact that I don't like lots of description with numerous inventive machines/creatures/landscapes. This one seemed to throw in everything but the kitchen sink. It was a bit confusing at times (I had to re-read the year on the chapter titles more than once, and the "rules" sometimes seemed to morph), and got much more exciting when the Dead Gentleman finally met Jezebel. Not my ...more
Rista Rarzim
Jan 29, 2015 Rista Rarzim rated it it was amazing
For a book that screams with "Go twelve year olds", I was pleasantly surprised to find myself really enjoying this book. To the point where I was sad that the book wasn't part 1 of say at least 5 because I think there is definitely room for this to become a series.
Aug 15, 2012 Josh rated it liked it
Contrary to what other reviewers have said, I enjoyed the beginning of this book. I think Cody respects the reader and does not quickly lay out the world in which the story takes places. I enjoyed the book and found the characters to be interesting although somewhat predictable. Overall the story was entertaining and engaging, but I felt that it wrapped up too quickly. I think I would give this book 3.5 stars if possible, but given the choice between 3 and 4 I selected three. Although I enjoyed ...more
May 26, 2013 Nancy rated it really liked it
If you like steampunk literature, this is for you. Tommy Learner is living in New York City in 1900. He is a street kid who supports himself by stealing. One day he steals a magical metal bird from a strange looking man. Now he is being pursued by monsters. He is finally rescued by the Explorers’ Society, a group of dead gentlemen who travel through time. When the Dead Gentleman attacks the Explorers’ Society, Tommy is trapped. He is found by Jezebel but it is now modern time and Tommy is a ghos ...more
Debbie McNeil
Nov 27, 2011 Debbie McNeil rated it really liked it
What I loved: it's a good sci-fi book (an underrepresented children's genre IMHO) that is accessible to average readers (not 500 pages), it has a strong female character, it had some cool steampunk stuff and the monsters du jour: zombies!

What I liked: the theme of selflessness, friendship, the greater good....a satisfying ending that still leaves it open for a sequel.

What I didn't like: the shifting narrators in 1st & 3rd person, the overabundant rotting flesh descriptions.
Tony Keefer

Time travel fantasy adventure with some steam punk elements. Thought it was a fun read, but not as much as Cody's other book, Powerless. Tommy and Jezebel were likable characters but I had some difficulty with the changing narrative viewpoint and switching between the various time threads. I think some middle grade readers will like this book because of the action, but they would probably need to be a strong reader to follow all the plot twists.
Feb 11, 2013 Karen rated it liked it
This was an interesting story with a mediocre output. I'll give this book a big old meh. It throws enough steampunk at you to classify this as steampunk. I saw "time-travel" as a label and got really excited, but we didn't spend enough time in the past. We spent more time on alternate planets. I like the main character boy, the female is okay. The captain is the most fascinating and isn't in it very long.
Actual rating: 3.5.


“We explorers are, too often, blind to the consequences of our actions; blind to our responsibilty for those millions who slumber in ignorance beneath the Veil of Reality. Now is the time for us to open our eyes and recognize that in our journeys we have left too many doors opened. And dark things have followed us back.”
Mar 12, 2012 Christie rated it did not like it
Think of all the things that an author might write to target pre-teens boys. This book is a major cluster-you-know-what of all of them. I'm seriously disappointed in Matthew Cody. I loved Powerless and could not stand this book! I kept reading because I kept telling myself "it has to get better- it's Matthew Cody." Wrong. So wrong.
Jason Keith
Aug 25, 2013 Jason Keith rated it really liked it
Sucked me in from the beginning. Fast paced, engaging characters, mystery, a villain whose presence is felt even when he's off the pages, excellent descriptions without being ponderous. A quick, light read - a fresh break from the 600 page, multi-book behemoths modern fantasy writers feel compelled to write. Just a great, fun yarn.
Oct 15, 2012 Kay rated it it was amazing
Yes, I am giving the coveted 5 stars for this book. Not my genre (sci-fi, time travel and a little steampunk) and I couldn't put it down! Scary, fast-paced, ghoulish...all of the things that The Graveyard Book wanted to be but wasn't.
This book is creepy and pretty amazing. Keep up the good writing, Matthew Cody!
Douglas Zaznaow
Oct 04, 2012 Douglas Zaznaow rated it really liked it
Although technically fantasy, I opened this book sure it would be sci-fi. Even halfway through, I maintained that view. I mean, what fantasy book has wormholes and time travel and the split of reality? Therefore, I strongly recommend this book for anyone who likes a good, mind-bending sci-fi read.
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Originally from the Midwest, Matthew Cody now lives in New York City with his wife and son. When not writing books or goofing off with his family, he teaches creative writing to kids of all ages.
More about Matthew Cody...

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