Published: September 29th 2015 by Greenwillow Books
Series: The Doldrums #1
Source: Local Library
Genre: Middle Grade, Adventure, Mystery
Synopsis: Archer B. Helmsley has grown up in a house full of oddities and treasures collected by his grandparents, the famous explorers. He knows every nook and cranny. He knows them all too well. After all, ever since his grandparents went missing on an iceberg, his mother barely lets him leave the house.
Archer longs for adventure. Grand adventures, with parachutes and exotic sunsets and interesting characters. But how can he have an adventure when he can’t leave his house? It helps that he has friends like Adélaïde L. Belmont, who must have had many adventures to end up with a wooden leg. (Perhaps from a run-in with a crocodile. Perhaps not.) And Oliver Glub. Oliver will worry about all the details (so that Archer doesn’t have to).
And so Archer, Adélaïde, and Oliver make a plan. A plan to get out of the house, out of their town entirely. It’s a good plan.
Well, it’s not bad, anyway.
But nothing goes quite as they expect.
Spoiler Free Review:
If you’re looking for a fun, middle grade novel, I would recommend going for this one. There’s humor, adventure, and it also discusses more serious themes to go along with it. The writing style was very reminiscent of the books I read as a child, like A Series of Unfortunate Events. It was whimsical and brought back a lot of memories of my favorite children’s books, like Roald Dahl. My favorite part about this book would have to be the illustrations. It’s amazing that being a debut novel, the author managed to write and illustrate this book. The illustrations were wonderfully depicted and outshined my enjoyment of the story.
There are a few important themes discussed, such as loneliness. Archer and Adélaïde were both very lonely in the beginning. The parents weren’t the greatest and kind of trapped them in their home. With that being said, I really hated that most of the adults were absolutely horrible.
I probably hated Archer’s mother the most, for no sense of creativity or imagination. Oliver’s parents were pretty nice and Archer and Adélaïde’s dads were nice and the librarian as well. But Archer’s mother, Mrs. Murkley, and Adélaïde’s mother were down right awful. It sucks that they’re all females. Mrs. Murkley, the mean old teacher reminded me a lot of The Trunchbull from Matilda By Roald Dahl, one of my favorite books. I loved how Archer and Adélaïde stood up to her. There was one particular scene with Mrs. Murkley that reminded me of Harry’s Aunt Margot from Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban. It had me cracking up, Archer’s silliness and pranks were hilarious.
As for our three main characters, I really loved them, individually and together. Their dynamic was sweet and adorable, but I could definitely see the flaws and how it developed towards the end. Archer was our curious main character who came up with the craziest ideas, but I loved him all the same. Oliver was the more reluctant, cowardly type, kind of like Grover from Percy Jackson. Adélaïde was French (which was awesome) the more bold,outspoken type. I liked how we got a backstory on her character and where she came from. However, I was disappointed by the lack of people of color. Some people would be okay with it, but not me. I’m not sure when the time period takes place, but more representation of a person that is not white would have been wonderful.
Overall, this was a fun middle grade adventure story. I would recommend to people of all ages, who are looking for an adventure in the comfort of their home. 🙂