Carissa's Reviews > Alex and the Ironic Gentleman

Alex and the Ironic Gentleman by Adrienne Kress
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's review
Apr 28, 08

bookshelves: juvenile
Read in October, 2007

this one was on a display at b&n and looked somewhat interesting, so i tried it out. i have such a mixed reaction to this book that i’m not sure where to start. at first, i liked the book. it was a pale imitation of lemony snicket’s writing style (”defining” odd words as it went along, that funky semi-conversational style between author and reader, even the cover illustration evokes snicketishness) but was entertaining with funny moments. then, i put the book down one night to go to sleep. up until that moment, the main character, alex (who is a girl, but who looks like a boy–way to attempt to appeal to both genders, but probably sort of alienate both instead), has been living with her wonderful uncle since both of her parents died. they become dear friends with alex’s sixth-grade teacher who, it turns out, is a descendant of an infamous pirate. blah blah, there’s a search for a long lost treasure map and (surprise!) alex realizes that it must be hidden in the museum house at the top of the hill. a slightly strange episode follows where alex tries to steal the map out of the house and is badgered mercilessly by the old lady caretakers of the museum. she finally escapes their clutches and makes her way back to her house only to discover that pirates have broken in, killed her uncle and kidnapped her teacher. she decides to rescue him and goes to the train station and catches a train. this is where i put the book down one night before bed. the next day, when i picked the book up and began reading again, i kept checking the cover to be sure i was reading the same book. she finds herself on a train where some demented guy is doing really weird things and stealing people’s souls and it felt like the author went off on some bizarre stream-of-consciousness writing binge. this continues for a large portion of the book as alex continues her quest to rescue her teacher and runs into a depressed “ginormous” octopus, and a hotel in the middle of a forest run by a hotelier who wants his staff to be able to read his mind. very, very distracting to the plot to bring in quite this much weirdness. she does eventually make it to her destination and the plot picks up pretty well again, but i felt lost in the middle. one of my other gripes is that the book seems like it takes place in that non-specific long-ago time of sepia toned pictures, but then, jarringly (and for no apparent reason) someone will have a laptop or some other modern convenience. and not in a good, steam-punk kind of way. and there is a great inconsistency in the luck of this child. sometimes she is incredibly unlucky (dead parents, dead uncle, evil caretaker ladies, soul-stealing train guy) and then there will be loooooong periods of the book when everything is roses, no worries, amazingly good! it just seemed very inconsistent. sort of good plot idea, could have used some thoughtful editing.

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