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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Crime and Punishment
"Gentlemen" by Michael Northrop is a wonderful first novel that is fast paced, gritty, and perfectly plotted.

The main protagonists, Mixer, Tommy, Bones, and Micheal are well written, they are rough kids from difficult circumstances- at times you feel sorry for them, and at times you are repulsed by them. Through it all, Micheal is the narrator and he does the...
Published on January 28, 2009 by C.E.

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly sad tale of crime and punishment and unrealized potential
I found this book to be a very sad tale of unrealized potential and broken spirits. This story is very slow moving and it meanders around quite a bit mostly because it is being told by Micheal, a 15 year old boy put in the remedial class in high school. We get to know him and his three friends as Micheal remembers their elementary school and middle school years...
Published on April 22, 2010 by J.Prather


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Crime and Punishment, January 28, 2009
This review is from: Gentlemen (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"Gentlemen" by Michael Northrop is a wonderful first novel that is fast paced, gritty, and perfectly plotted.

The main protagonists, Mixer, Tommy, Bones, and Micheal are well written, they are rough kids from difficult circumstances- at times you feel sorry for them, and at times you are repulsed by them. Through it all, Micheal is the narrator and he does the job with an authentic voice that isnt afraid to tell things like they are.

Tommy goes missing. Haberman, the english teacher is suspect number one, but who else had a motive? Did Tommy just leave? Was he killed? Did he have an "accident"? All of these questions and more are probed within this novel that sucks you in and takes you on a wild ride to find the truth.

How strong are the bonds of friendship? What tests these bonds, strengthens then, and in some cases- breaks them? When does suspicion carry over into guilt, conviction, and action?

A well written novel that probes these questions and isnt shy about the realities that surround them. If you are looking for a good book, a quick read, and a fast-paced, suspenseful plot then pick this one up. A great start, strong middle and a conclusion that is just as strong all stack up to make this book a keeper.

***Disclaimer for parents and readers alike- some strong language, graphic scenes, and alcohol use in this book.***
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Small-Town Horror Meets Classic American Fiction, June 5, 2009
This review is from: Gentlemen (Hardcover)
The thing that dawned on me, reading this novel, is how little a percentage of horror books actually involve capital-H Horror. Stephen King isn't about googly-eyed monsters and crazed psychos -- or, at least, he isn't about that so much as he's about the most basic human reactions. Fear. Anxiety. Loss. Regret. That's what separates, say, "The Catcher in the Rye" from "The Road" -- in other words, a really well-done non-horror story from a really good horror story.

And there's a lot of Stephen King in Michael Northrop's book. Actually, it reminded me more of Michael ("The Hours") Cunningham. For much of the book, the main plot moves slowly, but interesting, well-developed and well-savored. Almost every page there's a side story that made me want to tell the person next to me about what I was reading -- like how Tommy threw a desk across the room in order to distract a girl he liked, or the summer of the two Jennys. And Micheal's language (the narrator -- whose name was misspelled on his birth certificate, not the author) is so graceful that when he suddenly becomes "typical guy"-ish and talks about throwing a punch at his teacher, you're blown away. Not because it's out of character, but because it makes him so multi-dimensional and real.

Then, of course, there's the scary stuff. And Michael (the author) seems to know his way around both scary stuff and the more Gothic parts of small-town America: the secrets people keep and the way that dark seems to swallow up the country after twilight. As the novel moves on, the simple question of whether or not their teacher has a dead body no longer feels like the point of the book -- it's more about Micheal, his friends, his town, and the darkness that's inside him.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This will be a hit!, March 9, 2009
By 
Jay (Houston, TX, United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Gentlemen (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This young adult book depicts a darker, harder crowd than most... which is what is going to be so appealing to many who aren't avid readers.

The story revolves around a group of high school sophomores who are nowhere near the top echelon, college-bound, yuppies that tend to populate so many YA books. The author does a great job of interweaving the voices of the kids and the adults they come across - very real in that regard.

The story is told in first person, with semi-dated jargon included. I think that is the one thing that might keep this from being an "outcast classic" - when kids no longer understand the slang. But for now, I see a lot of folks that don't normally bother with books, reading this one in a night, because they see a bit of their lives there!

Caveats: there is definitely violence and one sex scene in the book.. I would recommend only for mature high school and up.

As a representation of a new writer and different world from the wizards, spies, and horse-club riders we normally read about, I highly recommend this book.

All the best,

Jay
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly sad tale of crime and punishment and unrealized potential, April 22, 2010
This review is from: Gentlemen (Hardcover)
I found this book to be a very sad tale of unrealized potential and broken spirits. This story is very slow moving and it meanders around quite a bit mostly because it is being told by Micheal, a 15 year old boy put in the remedial class in high school. We get to know him and his three friends as Micheal remembers their elementary school and middle school years together. He can tell you when Bones first lost his spirit and when he himself first got pigeon-holed as a delinquent. The characters here are rich and full of a darker more gritty form of the usual teen angst.

The story solidifies around an english teacher and his teaching of the book Crime and Punishment. This is what hooked me into this story, since I did enjoy reading Crime and Punishment many years ago. The author did a great job of drawing parallels - it really added to the general bleak atmosphere. This story is drawn in shades of grey. It's an interesting book. I wouldn't classify it as a fun read but I can certainly appreciate it for the talented writing. Some may be put off by the incredibly slow pacing of the novel, but I think those who stick it out will be rewarded with plenty to think about.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great story - very real, pretty dark, January 21, 2009
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This review is from: Gentlemen (Hardcover)
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This is a YA novel and I am 46, so I am definitely not the target audience. I do read a lot of YA though, usually - as in this case - to preview books before I let my 14 yo son read them.

Once I sat down with it, I finished it in a couple of hours - the story was so compelling that I couldn't put it down. It's a gritty, dark story about 4 friends, high school sophomores, all with some background of family dysfunction and/or school problems, and all in the remedial track at their public high school... they don't get a lot of respect in other words. They smoke, they drink beer, they think they're pretty tough.

When one of them disappears, events unfold in a way that winds up being more than they can handle. It's dark and intense, and, as I said, extremely compelling. It's a bit like a modern day SE Hinton novel in that it's about rough-edged teens who are loyal to their friends and who get in over their heads. The author isn't, in my opinion, quite as good at catching the 'real' voice of a teenager as SE Hinton (who is?) - but he comes close! This book feels real, uncomfortably so at times. This is no feel-good warm-fuzzy.

The book is written in the first person, which I don't love. I think you have to have a great and really singular voice to succeed in first person, and the narrator here - "Micheal" (hilariously, misspelled on his birth certificate) - doesn't quite have it. It was for this reason that I gave the book 4 stars instead of 5. During action and dialogue, Micheal does sound like a real teen - but during more introspective narrative bits I felt a forced Holden Caulfield vibe. That was my only problem with it - beyond that, as I have stated and perhaps over-stated, the book feels real, it moves quickly, and it has a great story that draws you in and keeps you guessing until the end... which I didn't see coming.

Bottom line - a very good read that should appeal to boys in high school.

The inside of the book states that it is for 15 year-olds and up / 10th grade and up. I agree. It's intense, and there is a sex scene which is more disturbing than graphic. I am going to let my 14 yo read it, but I thought hard about that decision. In my opinion, this is not a book for middle-schoolers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Well-Crafted, Suspenseful and Chilling Tale!!!, April 12, 2009
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This review is from: Gentlemen (Hardcover)
In this extraordinary debut novel, Michael Northrop offers a well-crafted, chilling tale, full of mystery and suspense. Told in the first person, the story nicely balances the narrator's affable, almost innocent, tone with the darker side of human nature. Suitable for teens and adults alike, the story will keep you guessing and on the edge of your seat as it navigates the twists and turns of a friendship thrust into the middle of most peculiar mystery. I highly recommend it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Three reasons to read Gentlemen, April 2, 2009
By 
Kurtis Scaletta (Minneapolis, MN USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Gentlemen (Hardcover)
First, I'm a fan of what you might call "the poetic vernacular," over prettified rhetoric, e.g., folks who write like ordinary folks talk but have a since of rhythm and lingo that make their writing memorable -- the likes of Mark Twain and Ring Lardner who can write like uneducated rubes but do it really well. Northrop writes in that vein, too, and I enjoyed the book at linguistic level as Micheal (sic) slangs his way through the story talking exactly like American teenagers talk if they're good at it.

Second, the characters are interesting. Not just the kid characters, but the grown-ups, who Northrop manages to flesh out even though Micheal (like I said, sic) barely notices them. For example, his mom is a tragic figure, hard working and self-sacraficing, but she's a bit frayed at the edges and negligent... she surely doesn't know all the things her kid is into. She's real. The teachers are well-drawn, too, especially the enigmatic Mr. Haberman, who's not exactly a hero but certainly not a villain but is more like a not-very-good teacher who wants to be a good teacher because he has big ideas he wants to share with kids, but it's hard because the kids aren't listening and they don't care... so, like a lot of teachers, he experiments a bit but before long lapses back into his comfort zone of pedantry. He's real.

Third, the story is a good one. It's probably what actual teenagers are more likely to get into -- an edgy, suspenseful thriller with missing persons and sex and drugs and maybe a murder and definitely an attempted murder and fights and myspace and secrets and mayhem. Oh, and Russian literature. You know how the kids love that. It's a real page turner -- I read it one sitting, and I can't remember the last time I did that with a novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Having a messed-up eye, it'll affect the way you see things.", February 12, 2009
By 
Joe Schreiber (Hershey, PA, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Gentlemen (Hardcover)
It may be only February, but I think it's safe to put Michael Northrop's first novel on my best of '09 list. You can call it YA if you like; the classification doesn't really matter. Like a fastball, a whiskey shot or a perfect pop song, GENTLEMEN is an example of a novel that does everything right.

Main character Micheal (his misspelled-since-birth name is one of a hundred ways Northrop uses small detail to make his people pop right off the page) and his pals Tommy, Mixer and Bones are the kids you remember hanging out with in front of the lockers...or endeavoring to avoid. They dip chaw, smoke stale Camels bought off older kids and hang out in the woods after school. Their remedial English teacher Mr. Haberman is a wholly untrustworthy and utterly compelling shadow-figure in their school lives, simultaneously challenging the boys and baiting them with the great literary brickbat of Dostoyevsky's CRIME AND PUNISHMENT. But when one of their own goes missing, Mr. Haberman's increasingly pointed classroom remarks about crime, guilt and consequences launch a chain of events whose final link ends, inevitably, in a pool of blood.

There are deep secrets pulsing through GENTLEMEN's veins, but Northrop doesn't spill them, instead allowing them to trickle out through the book's pores as its internal temperature spikes higher. As a psychological portrait, GENTLEMEN evokes the best of Robert Cormier. As a thriller it easily holds its own with the best Lois Duncan mass markets of my own misspent youth. From the first-person I'm-whispering-you-this-on-the-bus narration to the tension that builds steadily throughout the story, Northrop handles every inch of his tale with the off-handed aplomb of a born storyteller, and in the process serves up an instant classic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Thought Provoking, Stand Out Read, June 12, 2010
By 
This review is from: Gentlemen (Hardcover)
The first time I saw the cover of Michael Northrop's "Gentlemen," I was intrigued. (Isn't Marc Tauss's photo great?) Anyway, I'm very happy it grabbed my eye because this is a book to remember.

Micheal Benton, whose birth certificate bears a misspelling, is a Sophomore whose group of friends is the rough crowd at school. He quit "applying himself," but gets by. At first it's nothing too unusual when one of his friends, Tommy, flips a desk over in math and is sent to the assistant principal. It's also not that unusual when he doesn't show up for English later that day. What is unusual is the behavior of their English teacher, Mr. Haberman. Why is he employing a sudden hands-on approach, bringing a barrel with mysterious contents into the lesson? And as days go by without any word from Tommy, Mr. Haberman's lectures on Crime and Punishment sound like clues pointing to a sinister act.

I loved Micheal Benton's consistent and humorous voice; the book is written in first person and it works. Although he's only meant to be 15, he seemed older to me-especially by the end. This is a different kind of book; I haven't read anything like it. It's far from a commentary on troubled teens. Gentlemen has a unique plot line, which while it takes a little to get into, wowed me in the end. It's the type of book that leaves you thinking through the story in your head again, discovering new things. The book lives up to its premise and I'm proud to own a copy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Suspense with Real, Sympathic Characters, April 27, 2010
This review is from: Gentlemen (Hardcover)
This book has won numerous awards and it's not hard to see why. Tommy, Bones, Mixer and narrator Micheal (his name was misspelled on his birth certificate) are small-town high-school students from the proverbial wrong side of the tracks. They're treated as the tough, remedial ed guys at school and it's almost like they live up to their reputations because that's what people expect of them... all but their English teacher, Mr. Haberman, who at least seems more respectful, calling them "gentlemen." When one of them goes missing, they begin to take an interest in Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment," which Haberman has assigned for class. Soon, they begin to get carried away with their reading of the text and actually start to suspect Haberman of involvement in their friend's disappearance. But when the teacher starts behaving in bizarre ways, you, the reader, begin to wonder as well if the boys are not onto something. The suspense builds and builds and leads to a rather upsetting climax. But in the end, the reader is left with some hope for these boys, particularly for the narrator. "Gentlemen" is a page-turner with very believable, sympathetic characters that should appeal to all young people, but particularly to teenage boys.
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Gentlemen (Push Fiction)
Gentlemen (Push Fiction) by Michael Northrop (Paperback - November 1, 2010)
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