I first learned about THE CHRONICLES OF EGG a couple years ago, when I saw it on one of my young cousin’s bedside tables. I asked him if he liked it, and he immediately brightened up and told me, “It’s awesome.”
I got myself a copy a few days later. When I see or hear about a kid getting that excited about a book – any book – I find it and I read it. I do this because I want to see just what it is that’s so awesome in there, and also because, if a kid’s excited about books, I think you should try to keep them excited about books, and I read enough kid lit that I can usually go back to said excited kid (or said excited kid’s parents) with a few recommendations for future reading.
All of which is to say that I don’t know why it took me so long to finally pull DEADWEATHER AND SUNRISE, the first book in THE CHRONICLES OF EGG trilogy, off my shelf and give it a read. I don’t know why, after my cousin gave it such a glowing review, it literally took me years to read it. I’ll blame it, though, on there being too many other damn books to read, and say, too, that I wish I had read it sooner. Because my cousin was right – THE CHRONICLES OF EGG is awesome.
Rodkey, first and foremost, is an excellent writer. Every sentence of DEADWEATHER AND SUNRISE is an absolute pleasure to read. The descriptions are wonderfully evocative, the pacing spot-on, and the story both gripping and interesting. There’s also the world-building – THE CHRONICLES OF EGG takes place on a sort of alternate 19th- or early 20th-century planet, Deadweather and Sunrise being the names of two small islands, physically close but perched on opposite ends of the economic spectrum, the one muggy and pirate-infested, the other idyllic and overflowing with vacationers and tourists. (Books 2 and 3 of THE CHRONICLES venture further and further away from the islands, the reader learning more about Rodkey’s world as Egg himself explores it.)
But the thing that really sets Rodkey’s book(s) apart from all the other Middle Grade adventure series flooding the market (to which I’ll be adding my own next fall) is the characterization. Egg (formerly “Egbert”) is our narrator, and so he’s explored most thoroughly. But DEADWEATHER AND SUNRISE is packed with other characters. Some appear for two pages and others for two hundred. But it’s a testament to Rodkey’s abilities that even the minor ones, when they’re “onscreen,” seem major. Rodkey is as subtle a writer as he is an entertaining one, and he takes care with every character’s appearance, behavior, body language, and even diction, and also has Egg – a sensitive, insightful boy – offer his own interpretations of each new person introduced. Even those characters who only have cameos seem to live off the page, to have their own complicated lives to live and stories to tell. This realness of the characters makes Rodkey’s fantastic world come all the more alive, and makes the stakes of Egg’s story all the more meaningful. Like any great book, Rodkey’s is a master class in storytelling.
Shortly after you finish DEADWEATHER AND SUNRISE, you’ll find yourself missing its cast of characters (even the nasty ones), and longing to return to Rodkey’s world. Fortunately, Egg’s adventures are only just getting started – and hopefully, Rodkey’s only just getting started, too.