Alex and the Ironic Gentleman by Adrienne Kress

Alex and the Ironic GentlemanOne of the drawbacks of the chaos of my life lately, is that I haven’t been able to participate in as many conversations about books and reading as I would like.  I read far too few book/literary blogs and only catch a small sliver of Twitter discussions, etc.

But I benefit from the little I am able to catch; often finding new authors and interesting books along the way.  Once such example is LitChat – “a fun, fast, and friendly way for booklovers to talk about books on Twitter.”

I try to catch their chats when I can and earlier this year I participated in a chat on young adult fiction (I think) and won an autographed copy of Timothy and the Dragon’s Gate by Adrienne Kress.  It seemed a good idea to read the first book in this series so I grabbed Alex and the Ironic Gentleman for my Kindle.  But I only got around to reading both books recently.

I clearly should have read them earlier as they are fun, imaginative and entertaining reads full of wit and adventure.

Alex and the Ironic Gentleman “tells the story of Alex Morningside, an inquisitive ten-and-a-half-year-old girl who lives with her uncle above a doorknob shop.”  Her life seems to be taking a turn for the better when a new teacher, Mr. Underwood, comes to school and soon becomes her favorite teacher and a family friend.

But as you would expect things are not so simple. It turns out Mr. Underwood has a complicated past and some secrets that place him in danger; and by extension Alex and her uncle. When Mr. Underwood is kidnapped Alex sets off on an incredible cross-country adventure to rescue him and, hopefully, find the infamous Wigpowder treasure while she is at it.

Two things stand out about this story: it has a nice mix of humor and seriousness.  The narrator is witty and whimsical but the story has its darker sides and even some thoughtful life lessons.  But the humor never gets over-the-top and the heavier issues don’t drag the story down.  It has a great pace and Kress has a way of throwing in hilarious and abusrd plot twists while still keeping the story moving.

And second, the characters are great.  The Daughters of the Founding Fathers’ Preservation Society have to be one of my favorite young adult literary creations.  These old ladies are hilarious and yet vicious; and a real threat to Alex’s success.  The Extremely Ginormous Octopus is a hoot as well.

Adrienne Kress is clearly an author I will keep an eye on because she brings a great voice, a sparkling sense of humor, and interesting characters to young adult fiction.  So if you haven’t yet read this series pick up Alex and he Ironic Gentleman and get started. Like me, you will be glad you did.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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