Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Review: Ripper

Title: Ripper
Author: Stefan Petrucha
Published: 2012 by Philomel Books
Version: Hardcover
Obtained: Library

Carver Young dreams of becoming a detective, despite growing up in an orphanage with only crime novels to encourage him. But when he is adopted by Detective Hawking of the world famous Pinkerton Agency, Carver is given not only the chance to find his biological father, he finds himself smack in the middle of a real life investigation: tracking down a vicious serial killer who has thrown New York City into utter panic.

When the case begins to unfold, however, it’s worse than he could have ever imagined, and his loyalty to Mr. Hawking and the Pinkertons comes into question. As the body count rises and the investigation becomes dire, Carver must decide where his true loyalty lies.
Full of whip-smart dialogue, kid-friendly gadgets, and featuring a then New York City Police Commisioner Teddy Roosevelt, Ripper challenges everything you thought you knew about the world’s most famous serial killer and leaves you gasping for breath.

First Sentence:
'Let me show you a secret.'

Wow. I had a feeling this book would be great, but I had no clue it would be as wonderful as it turned out to be. I’m in love. Can I have more books starring Carver, Delia, and Finn?

Carver Young is just a poor orphan with a lock-picking skill and a love for mysteries, when he  gets oddly “adopted” by a retired Pinkerton agent, Albert Hawking. Hawking plans to teach Carver how to be a great detective, although his methods are quite crazy. Craver is brought into a secret society of detectives and is encouraged to try to find his biological father. There are also these murders that keep happening, and Carver eventually discovers quite a few things about the killer. It turns into a crazy puzzle game that he tries to figure out with his friend Delia and his frenemy, Finn.

Stefan Petrucha perfectly crafts a historical mystery, and he expertly picks the most deplorably evil of real-life bad guys: Jack the Ripper. Jack the Ripper, as most people know, was never caught, therefore any story that builds on that mystery is already intriguing. I loved the way he built on the facts and created a crazy story, that more or less could be possible (except for some glaring additions).

The mystery sucked me in and took me all over NYC. Because of the short chapters, I sped right through the book, and even if they had been long I would have still rushed through because the story was so addicting.

And you guys who have read it: that last twist, I honestly did not see it coming. At all. So weird. Mind-blown.

I found the characters to be all VERY complex. And, for this type of book, that is pretty unusual. Hawking was completely crazy, but he changes a lot throughout the book and he becomes such a mentor to Carver. Although half the time I was ticked at him, I did find him to be oddly amazing.
Finn was one of my favorite characters because of the growth he goes through. He matures and changes so much throughout this story, and I loved how realistic he was.
Carver, our main character, was dedicated to his task, but slightly a more boring character (think Harry Potter, wonderful, heroic, but hardly ever anyone’s favorite character). While he was complex, dynamic, and respectable, he confused me to no end. He was SO slow in the beginning and eventually gained in astuteness, but his reasoning was sometimes very hard to follow. He was remarkably dedicated to stopping the murders and finding his father. The lengths he went to sometimes to follow someone or find information…oh goodness, I would never have done that.
Delia was…ehh. I loved her at the same time as I thought she could have been so much more. But then again, this book was not really about women empowerment or anything, so I guess she can just be the cute, intelligent sidekick.

Many reviewers claim that this book is more suited for children than young adults due to the “cleaning up” of such a disturbing topic. While I agree that because of that, it is completely a great mystery read for middle graders, I enjoyed it for the characters, the twists, the mystery, and the concept. It didn’t have to be realistically grisly for me to understand the horror of the situation. Also, I’ve read about Jack the Ripper before, so I already knew that it was horrid.

I would LOVE if this became a series. It’s totally not going to because the concept just covers one storyline. But I thought the ending was open for more, and the characters are just begging for more stories to star in.

Content Warning: Very mild language only a handful of times

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