Revolver (by Marcus Sedgwick)

23 06 2011

The cat wanted more. This is more. “Even the dead tell stories,” is how Marcus Sedgwick’s award winning  11th novel Revolver starts. Set in the Arctic, in 1910, this is the story of 14-year-old Sig Andersson and the Revolver. It’s also the story of a boy forced to grow up due to the extreme circumstances he finds himself in.

Imagine the coldest of cold places of the Arctic Circle. This is where the Andersson family, father Einar, step-mother Nadya, and teenagers Anna and Sig, live. One day, Sig finds his father Einar dead on the ice, frozen to death. Nadya, Anna and Sig drag Einar’s body back to the cabin, and after Nadya and Anna leave to get help, Sig is alone in this cold and desolate place. Then there’s a knock on the door that will bring back history, and will force Sig to make decisions. “A gun is not a weapon,’ Einar once said to Sig. ‘It’s an answer. It’s an answer to the questions life throws at you when there’s no one else to help.” (p.24)

Revolver is spread out over a mere 217 pages, and switches between Sig’s 1910 (Einar’s death and the menacing events in the cabin) and Einar’s 1899 (the Alaska gold rush and how Einar’s past will influence Sig’s decision). Yet, where other novels as short as this one fail in their characterization or in the development of the plot, Sedgwick manages to write a haunting, almost claustrophobic , tale of hardship, hope and making life-choices. This chilling story would put even many “grown up” thrillers to shame. Sedgwick’s prose is sparse, thrilling, tense. Revolver proves the power of language. It proves that a carefully constructed plot does not need to be dragged out. Even the most reluctant of readers will want to pick this one up: a fast, exciting and ‘easy’ read, yet with a philosophical everyman twist. Sometimes less is more.



4 responses

16 05 2012
The White Darkness (by Geraldine McCaughrean) « Ringo the Cat's Blog

[…] mean it can’t produce a gem of a novel that surpasses the mere adventure novel. There’s also Marcus Sedgwick’s Revolver, really a world apart from The White Darkness, and this book too caught the eye of the Printz […]

22 06 2012
Blood Red Snow White (by Marcus Sedgwick) « Ringo the Cat's Blog

[…] and often Unheimlich and atmospheric way of writing, this has resulted in a couple of gems. In Revolver, for instance, that setting is the Arctic, suitably evoked in an almost claustrophobic way. The […]

20 04 2013
Midwinterblood (by Marcus Sedgwick) | Ringo the Cat's Blog

[…] not concerned with pleasing a certain type of audience, but rather in producing a work of art. Revolver, Blood Red, Snow White, Midwinterblood… all of these share this common urgency. And it works! It […]

29 07 2014
London and books. | Ringo the Cat's Blog

[…] one. Midwinterblood obviously won the Printz last year, but I felt it really wasn’t Sedgwick’s strongest book, nor did I think it was ‘the most literary YA book’ of the year or even ‘the best’ […]

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