Deadweather and Sunrise, by Geoff Rodkey, was published in 2012 by Putnam.
It’s tough to be thirteen, especially when somebody’s trying to kill you. Not that Egg’s life was ever easy, growing up on sweaty, pirate-infested Deadweather Island with no company except an incompetent tutor and a pair of unusually violent siblings who hate his guts. But when Egg’s father hustles their family off on a mysterious errand to fabulously wealthy Sunrise Island, then disappears with the siblings in a freak accident, Egg finds himself a long-term guest at the mansion of the glamorous Pembroke family and their beautiful, sharp-tongued daughter Millicent. Finally, life seems perfect. Until someone tries to throw him off a cliff. Suddenly, Egg’s running for his life in a bewildering world of cutthroat pirates, villainous businessmen, and strange Native legends. The only people who can help him sort out the mystery of why he’s been marked for death are Millicent and a one-handed, possibly deranged cabin boy. Come along for the ride. You’ll be glad you did.
This book reminded me a little bit of Treasure Island, if only for the pirates, treasure, and the adventures of a boy. And if you like those things, you might enjoy this book as well—although, if you’re like me, you’ll find too many other things that annoy you. I will say, though, that I did like the world. It’s set in a sort of fantasy Caribbean, and the world is similar to the world of the 1800s—and yet not.
Rodkey’s humor is interesting, in that I could so easily tell that he was trying to be funny—and yet, I found his humor more tiring than funny. It felt pat and obvious and many times I found myself thinking, “Of course he said that” because Egg is the sort of Plucky, Awkward Boy Hero who would say those sorts of things. It’s formulaic and I, personally, found it boring.
I also could not stand Millicent. Possibly my least favorite iteration of Spunky Girl is the one that gives the Spunky Girl a healthy dose of “bratty to the point of annoyance.” Perhaps I’m not fond of Spunky Girl much at all because it’s so difficult to make the girl lively without also making her bratty or annoying. And Millicent was annoying from the moment she appeared to the last moment we saw her, which made me like Egg even less for having a crush on her.
Finally, I’m disappointed—and a little frustrated—at the way the plot dragged on and then resolved. The whole book is set up like a treasure hunt, but then the resolution is very unsatisfactory (at least to me) and made me feel as if all the stuff that Egg went through was pointless, especially all the stuff in the middle that was a trudge to get through.
Recommended Age Range: 12+
Warnings: Guns, some violence, death.
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Millicent piped up. “The Fire King! Hutmatozal. Don’t you know the legend?”
“No. Sorry. Is he Rovian?”
Pembroke chuckled. “Oh, heavens, no. He was a savage. Ruled the Natives in this area about ah undred years ago. Your father and I—”
“You don’t know about the Fire King’s treasure? OR the Fist of Ka? It’s absolutely—”
“Millicent.” Pembroke stopped her with a little wave of his fingers. Then he turned back to me. “Your father and I were speaking. He showed me a parchment he had with him. In Native writing. Do you know where it came from?”