Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Book Review: Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

Posted as part of Tween Tuesday, hosted by GreenBeanTeenQueen.
Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Publication date: September 2011
Pages: 352
Source: Library
For: Fun (and because it won the Newbery)

Jack is planning to have the summer of his life, until he's grounded for life.  His only escape is the unusual job of writing obituaries for Mrs. Voelker, his eccentric old neighbor. But things in his dead end town are about to get more exciting when a whole bunch of the original town members start to die off.

Things I Liked:
What a fun and interesting story!  I really liked Jack and especially Mrs. Voelker, who is the life of this story.  She is the Grandma Dowdel of the book.  There were lots of fun, quirky characters and I loved seeing the world of the 1960s from the eyes of a kid.  The writing was excellent, with some seriously great imagery and similes.  Check out the quotes below for a taste (ok, they're mostly just funny parts).  Not to mention, some of the stories are simply hilarious - I can totally picture Mr. Spizz riding around on his adult tricycle.  Definitely will be remembering these stories for a long time!
I was a nosebleeder.  The moment something startled me or whenever I got excited or spooked about any little thing blood would spray out of my nose holes like dragon flames. p 8
"I've only driven a tractor," I said nervously.  "I don't know if I can really drive a car."
"It's the same," she said.  "Just go slow and it won't matter if you hit anything."
"But what if I slowly drive off a cliff?" I asked.
"You'll have more time to pray before you hit the bottom," she said impatiently.  "Now try to be a man and let's get going." p 102
Things I Didn't Like:
Honestly, I thought it was boring.  Yes, there were funny stories and interesting things happened, but a lot of the time, there was nothing to keep me invested.  Also, it was a very all-over-the-place kind of book; I wasn't exactly sure what the point of the narrative was or often where the story was going.  It was fairly episodic, but not necessarily in a good way.  Instead of being completely impressed with this book, I felt it was just good, despite the fun I had reading it.  Now I really wish Okay for Now had taken the Newbery.

The Wednesday Wars and Okay For Now by Gary Schmidt
A Long Way From Chicago and A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck

s-factor: !
maybe one or two

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->
well, there are some people dying

Overall rating: ****

Are you often a bit disappointed with award winners?
If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage


  1. I thought it was very fun and funny at the beginning, but kind of had a slow down in the middle, then picked up again. But I also thought if I had been a 12 year old boy, I might have loved it. Then again, I've never been a 12 year old boy, so I'm not sure! But my husband used to be one, and he found it a little slow as well....

    1. I think there are definitely going to be big fans of this book, not the least among them 12-year-old boys. Maybe I just spent the whole time wishing it was Okay For Now and didn't appreciate it :)

  2. I'll still probably read this one because it seems like it will sort of be like The Wednesday Wars but I'm sad to hear that it doesn't have much of a point. :(

    1. I'm glad you're still planning to read it, because it is good. And it might have a point, I just didn't get it :)


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