Saturday, March 17, 2012

Petrucha, Stefan: Ripper

March 1, 2012
YA Historical Mystery, 427 pages
Acquired and read: Through the local library; read within two days (though if I'd had the energy, it could have been shorter...)

You thought you knew him. You were dead wrong. 

Carver Young dreams of becoming a detective, despite growing up in an orphanage with only crime novels to encourage him. But when he is adopted by Detective Hawking of the world famous Pinkerton Agency, Carver is given not only the chance to find his biological father, he finds himself smack in the middle of a real life investigation: tracking down a vicious serial killer who has thrown New York City into utter panic. When the case begins to unfold, however, it’s worse than he could have ever imagined, and his loyalty to Mr. Hawking and the Pinkertons comes into question. As the body count rises and the investigation becomes dire, Carver must decide where his true loyalty lies.

Full of whip-smart dialogue, kid-friendly gadgets, and featuring a then New York City Police Commissioner Teddy Roosevelt, Ripper challenges everything you thought you knew about the world’s most famous serial killer.

Okay, you say that there's not enough YA for boys? Here, gentlemen, is a title that should tide you over.

At least for a little while.

Carver Young is an orphan. He has no idea about who his parents are, or what happened to them, but he does know one thing: he is meant to be a detective. Of course, that's a bit of a dream when you're living in an orphanage and reading dime novels to make use of your time. However, everything changes for him when he's adopted by retired (cantankerous, eccentric - well, let's just say he's crazy) Pinkerton detective Albert Hawkings - you know, of the Pinkerton Detectives?


Okay, let's just say that there were awesome. But look them up later.

Hawkings offers Carver a chance at a leg-up into the world of intrigue that he wants to be part of, with his own unique mission: find his biological father. Sounds like wading through phone books and old genealogical charts, right? But Carver finds himself smack-dab in the middle of a different web of circumstance than he thought: a serial killer, right on the streets of New York City, and he seems to be the only one to hold the clues to solving it all.

But, as the author says on the back cover, "You'll never guess how. Or why..."

Well, maybe you might.

Let me tell you: if you're looking for lots of historical truths that are way weirder than fiction (an old-lady cat killer! A hidden subway! An asylum hidden on an island!), chase scenes, street fights and gruesomely murdered bodies, this is the read for you. But, I'd steer clear of it if you're the type of person who gets frustrated with easy clues, almost-to-the-letter predicable twists and...well, some major writing gaffs.

And I quote, "Carver swooned."

...Swooned? Do boys swoon? And doesn't swooning involve a lot of hand-to-the-forehead, delicate sighs of distress, rolling eyes and buckling knees?

Carver lightly falls into a kneeling position on the floor. There is no hyperventilating involved.

Also, boys don't swoon.

They manfully stumble under pressure. They bend, not break.

But, to be fair, that's pretty much the only part of the book that really rubbed me the wrong way. I couldn't put it down, and I even mentioned to my sister that this is definitely something teenage boys will probably enjoy.

And the historical figures - Theodore Roosevelt and Alice and there's a mention of Nellie Bly! Have I ever told you how much I admire Nellie Bly?

Warnings: There are some moments where you will be screaming, "Oh my God - that's SO OBVIOUS!" Please refrain from damaging the book in the process. Throwing it at the wall is also frowned upon. Also, there is some mention of exactly what kind of women Jack the Ripper preyed on.


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