Alex and the Ironic Gentleman is not about a little boy named Alex. Nor is it about a gentleman who uses irony. It is about Alex Morningside – who is a girl, thank you very much – and her quest to rescue her sixth grade teacher from some very nasty pirates. Along the way, Alex has one surreal adventure after the next – from a mysterious train ride where one person disappears after every meal, to a chaotic movie set where Alex must cajole the star giant octopus into acting his part, to a massive and wonderful hotel with no guests.
Alex is a delightful heroine. She’s always an active participant – this is a girl who knows how to make things happen, instead of waiting for things to happen to her. And her complete indifference when people assume she is a boy is refreshing. As the narrator puts it, “it wasn’t that she wanted to be a boy or anything, it was simply that she didn’t see much difference in being treated as a girl or boy. Because, after all, everyone is just people.”
Adrienne Kress has a way with words. Her delightfully droll asides can only be described as Lemony Snicket-esque. And like in Mr. Snicket’s books, the narrator of Alex and the Ironic Gentleman is directly addressing the reader with witty wordplay and little bits of additional information. It’s a narrative device that is charming in the beginning of the story, and really serves to draw the reader in. I was delighted to find that as the tone got a little bit grating, the author backed off. When the action really gets going, the narrative asides and bits of backstory come further apart and get out of the way of the story.
This is a book with a funny sense of time and place – while it reads like a historical adventure novel, little bits of the modern world find their way into the text. The laptops and automated refrigerators felt like an anomaly in the world of the story. But in this strange book, throwing the reader for a loop is the norm – as the little old ladies of the innocent-seeming Daughters of the Founding Fathers’ Preservation Society will attest.
For readers who can’t get enough of Alex’s adventures, the next book in the series, Timothy and the Dragon’s Gate, was recently released.
Alex and the Ironic Gentleman on the web.
Adrienne Kress on the web.
Adrienne Kress’ blog.