Gangsterland, by Ansha Kotyk, 2013

GangsterlandWhat if you got sucked into a story? I mean sucked out of your chair and into the pages?

Jonathan’s life stinks. He has to move in with his dad, from sunny Phoenix to snow covered New England. His dad is never around. The school bully has it in for him. And he’s already managed to get on the principal’s black list. That’s when he gets sucked into a 1920’s adventure and his troubles really begin. Sure, there’s a beautiful girl, and a really cool time period, but there’s also a killer with Jonathan’s name at the top of his hit list.

This story was really unique. I love the Dick Tracy comic book feel and the Prohibition era setting, and some of the images are creatively different. I wish now I had jotted them down. The author also has a great sense of sarcasm written in kidspeak. I could so see my teen daughter saying this stuff.

My favorite part, though, was the way the Gangsterland book, the one Jonathan’s been sucked into, is unfinished. Jon becomes the hero, and his adventures fill the empty pages each time he reenters. There are two stories merging into one and Jon has to grow and change to accomplish what’s required of him. I like to see dynamic characters like this, and I loved the way it’s drawn out of him.

I do have a note of caution for younger readers, however. There are four minor profanities, Jonathan witnesses a murder (not gruesome and necessary for the plot, but it’s there), and he’s served alcohol in a speakeasy (which I thought stretched reality a little bit). Also Molly, the older female lead, is a bit sensual. It’s not inappropriate in any way. I’m just saying it’s meant for an older crowd, and I’d be uncomfortable handing it off to a reader under 12. That said, this one is creatively different and a fun read for teens.

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AnshaAnsha Kotyk is a member of Emblazon. She lives in Massachusetts where she writes upper middle grade stories full of adventure in the modern day with a twist of fantasyl What that fantastical twist is…well, it depends on what her cat whispers in her ear while she’s writing.

Her characters have strong family ties, and value their friendships. They also seem to get into a great deal of trouble and meet some seriously evil bad guys.

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3 thoughts on “Gangsterland, by Ansha Kotyk, 2013

  1. Sounds like a good read! Certainly is full of adventure, a great plot and an intriguing time setting. I always wondered what times were like in the 1920s – my father was born in 1921. Very unique period when people were stepping out. Ansha must have done a lot of research!

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