Gentlemen by Michael Northrop
Published Scholastic 2009
Genre: Young Adult Mystery
Format: Hardback from the library
Micheal, Tommy, Mixer, and Bones aren’t just from the wrong side of the tracks–they’re from the wrong side of everything. Except for Mr. Haberman, their remedial English teacher, no one at their high school takes them seriously. Haberman calls them “gentlemen,” but everyone else ignores them–or, in Bones’s case, is dead afraid of them. When one of their close-knit group goes missing, the clues all seem to point in one direction: to Mr. Haberman.
Gritty, fast-paced, and brutally real, this debut takes an unflinching look at what binds friends together–and what can tear them apart.
This book takes a lot of its plot from Crime and Punishment as they try to figure out what happened when Tommy goes missing. He’s gone for a while when the police get involved and the school starts getting insane. They almost assume that their teacher, Mr. Haberman, did it with really no good evidence. But that doesn’t keep them from making really irrational decisions. Seriously…all three of the boys are so stupid. They are supposed to be misfits who were held back and only a couple more problems away from juvie but none of them were smart for such ‘criminal’ people. Around halfway through the book it started getting really ridiculous, ending in a really weird climax and then the whole book just took a turn for the worst.
The concept was good. What happened around this plot was terrible. The characters weren’t the right fit for the story. The idea of a teacher kidnapping a student was good. This was a terrible execution of that topic.
Micheal (does anyone else find it weird when the character and the author have the same name?) is a really bad main character. He’s kind of boring. There are various attempts at side plots, mostly dealing with his attempt to get a girlfriend and this girl not accepting his friend request. Also included are various drug references for no reason at all. There are a couple of pages about how this group of boys buys their drugs which has nothing to do with anything. Micheal did have a good relationship with his mom and ultimately did the right thing at the end, which I think was supposed to be a lesson about friendship. He just wasn’t a strong main character.
The other boys, Bones and Mixer, were more interesting. They had anger problems and were much more ‘street’ than Micheal. Really, they controlled most of where the story was going. Of course, they were the least rational too. None of the characters were really that likable. Mr. Haberman was a really tragic character and I felt bad for him as the boys were trying to prove he murdered their friend, although their friend just went missing. It was a really weird jump…
Overall, this book was very confusing and not the best. Micheal, the main character, was boring and not interesting. The entire concept of the story was good but it took some weird turns and it just didn’t execute well enough.