Review Detail

The Doldrums Featured
Young Adult Fiction 1551
Refreshingly Classical
Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
An enchantingly quirky jaunt of a story—ideal for fans of Roald Dahl or Lemony Snicket.

The Doldrums is a tale about a lonely, overprotected eleven-year-old boy named Archer B. Helmsley. Though he is the grandson of two famous explorers and lives in their fantastical house of curiosities (alongside exotic examples of taxidermy), he is in serious want of both friendship and adventure.
"Did Ralph and Rachel march to the beat of a different drum? Perhaps. You could even say they ditched the marching and the drums and danced a jig to a xylophone instead."

It’s been two years since Ralph and Rachel Helmsley went missing in an unfortunate iceberg incident. Though Archer knows little about his grandparents and hasn’t seen them since he was a baby, his interest is piqued when trunks containing some of their belongings arrive on his doorstep. He convinces himself that his grandparents aren’t dead, and begins planning his own expedition to Antarctica in the far-fetched hope of retrieving them. But he knows he can’t do it alone.

Friendship is a strong and pervasive theme running throughout this book. It isn’t until Archer joins forces with Oliver—his somewhat cowardly but well-meaning neighbor, and Adelaide—his new French classmate with a wooden leg and a wild story about how she got it, that the story really picks up steam. Adelaide outshines Oliver with quiet prominence, thanks to several chapters dedicated solely to her unique backstory. Her confident poise and improvisational skills lend a cohesive balance to the dynamic between the boys, as well as a curious point of tension with Archer as her presence poses a challenge to the hazy nuisance of fast-approaching puberty.

On the whole, the prose has the feel of a classic. Eloquently written and languidly paced, The Doldrums does require a bit of patience to finally deliver on the promise of adventure and intrigue. (Even then, it’s more misadventure than not.) But the descriptions, combined with emotional depth, cunning humor, and competent dialogue, makes for a charming literary experience.

"And who said anything about dying? I don't plan on dying."

"Nobody plans on dying," said Oliver.

"I nearly died," said Adelaide.

"That's why you're not afraid," Oliver replied. "I've only had far-death experiences and I prefer to keep it that way."

On the downside, nearly all of the adults in this book felt disappointingly one-dimensional—either flatly horrible, or so passive and appeasing they enable the horrible ones with their negligence. The exception, of course, being Archer’s grandparents. (Although, they end up being more mythos than characters in this particular installment.) In a way, this book felt like a lengthy prologue—an intricately detailed preamble to Archer and his cohorts, along with the idea of “The Society,” which seems sure to come into play in later books.

I feel the need to add: the illustrations in this book are FANTASTIC. A few elaborate black-and-white snippets here and there to break up heavier chapters, and regularly interspersed with full-page color artwork that offers warm sienna leanings—which fittingly invokes a vaguely 1950’s air. The quality of the imagery is both a compliment and an irrefutable enhancement to Gannon’s writing. The fact he is both author AND illustrator is exceedingly impressive, epitomizing the phrase "labor of love."

This is definitely a budding middle-grade series (and author) worth keeping an eye on!
Report this review Was this review helpful to you? 0 0

Comments

Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

The Fowl Twins (The Fowl Twins, #1)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
One week after their eleventh birthday, the Fowl twins--scientist Myles,...
Kai and the Monkey King (Brownstone's Mythical Collection, #3)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
When Kai grows tired of her bookish mum not being...
Astro Kittens: Cosmic Machines (Astro Kittens)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Greetings, my little Astro Kittens! Are you ready to take...
Astro Kittens: Into the Unknown (Astro Kittens)
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
Greetings, my little Astro Kittens! Are you ready to take...
All the Things We Do in the Dark
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
Sadie meets Girl in Pieces in this dark, emotional thriller...
The Rubicus Prophecy (The Witches of Orkney, #2)
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)
Abigail has just started her second year at the Tarkana...
Fancy Nancy: Camp Fancy
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Based on the Disney Junior TV show and inspired by...
Rules for Vanishing
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
In the faux-documentary style of The Blair Witch Project comes...
What Makes Us
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A viral video reveals a teen’s dark family history, leaving...
Harry Potter Origami
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Ever wanted to fold your own Chocolate Frogs? Or play...
By Any Means Necessary
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
Heart-wrenchingly honest, fans of Brandy Colbert and Nicola Yoon will...
Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle, #1)
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
Annie and Lee were just children when a brutal revolution...
Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
In 2001, audiences first met and fell in love with...
On the Come Up
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers...
Spin
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Sixteen-year-old Paris Secord's (aka DJ ParSec) career--and life--has come to...
Leah on the Offbeat
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best...

Latest Member Reviews

Forgiven Are the Starry-Eyed
 
5.0
"The story: Sheltered high school junior Andrea Cavanaugh believes she hits the jackpot when Josh McMillan, a..."
All the Things We Do in the Dark
 
4.3
"ALL THE THINGS WE DO IN THE DARK is an intensely challenging and thought-provoking read with some magical realism elements...."
Rules for Vanishing
 
5.0
"RULES FOR VANISHING is a deliciously haunting YA horror perfect for Halloween. Told through collected documents, interviews, and texts, this..."
What Makes Us
 
5.0
"WHAT MAKES US is an intriguing story that follows a teenaged boy, his mother (in the past), and his friend..."
Serpent & Dove
 
5.0
"Lou is on the run from her family and she lives a thieving life with her friend Coco. Both of..."
By Any Means Necessary
 
3.7
"BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY is an engaging contemporary YA that presents some issues very well. The writing is in a..."
On the Come Up
 
5.0
"ON THE COME UP is a fantastic new YA contemporary that handles big issues like racism and sexism. The characters..."
Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle, #1)
 
3.3
"FIREBORNE is a new YA fantasy that follows two teens, Lee and Anna (Antigone) in alternating points-of-view. Lee and Anna..."
Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel
 
4.0
"As Middle Grade graphic novel adaptations go, this urban fantasy is above par. The artwork has a bit..."
Into the Crooked Place (Into the Crooked Place, #1)
 
4.0
"INTO THE CROOKED PLACE is an engaging YA fantasy that follows five characters on a quest of aligned goals- even..."
To Kill a Kingdom
 
5.0
"TO KILL A KINGDOM is a wonderful YA fantasy about a siren and a pirate. Told in alternating points of..."
The Rift
 
3.3
"THE RIFT is a unique YA fantasy that takes place on Black Water Island, a place prized for the herd..."
The Beautiful (The Beautiful, #1)
 
3.3
"THE BEAUTIFUL takes place in New Orleans, primarily following a young woman, Celine. Celine fled France after a terrible event..."
 
5.0
"Eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson goes to Madrid, Spain with his family in order for his mother to reconnect with the country..."
Glow of the Fireflies
 
3.3
"GLOW OF THE FIREFLIES is a YA fantasy that follows a teenaged girl, Briony, who has no memories from before..."
Creep
 
3.3
"CREEP is an interesting YA thriller/horror that follows an incoming high school freshman, Olivia (Liv). Olivia lives in a small..."
 
4.0
"EVE OF MAN by Giovanna and Tom Fletcher is the latest in YA dystopias. In the story, a phenomenon of..."
 
4.7
"Sam Jones and Zoe Miller are seniors in high school, but they've never had a reason to communicate during their..."
 
4.7
"Michigan Manning just wants to play hockey. Unfortunately, the high school she attends in the upper peninsula of Michigan has..."
When You Ask Me Where I'm Going
 
5.0
"WHEN YOU ASK ME WHERE I'M GOING is an absolutely gorgeous collection that reaches to touch the soul. In poems,..."