( 13 )


This debut YA novel combines the wrong-side-of-the-tracks edginess of books like The Outsiders and Freak the Mighty and the searingly honest storytelling of authors like Chris Lynch and John Green.

Micheal, Tommy, Mixer, and Bones aren't just from the wrong side of the tracks--they're from the wrong side of everything. Except for Mr. Haberman, their remedial English teacher, no one at their high school takes them seriously. Haberman calls them "gentlemen," but everyone else ...

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This debut YA novel combines the wrong-side-of-the-tracks edginess of books like The Outsiders and Freak the Mighty and the searingly honest storytelling of authors like Chris Lynch and John Green.

Micheal, Tommy, Mixer, and Bones aren't just from the wrong side of the tracks--they're from the wrong side of everything. Except for Mr. Haberman, their remedial English teacher, no one at their high school takes them seriously. Haberman calls them "gentlemen," but everyone else ignores them--or, in Bones's case, is dead afraid of them. When one of their close-knit group goes missing, the clues all seem to point in one direction: to Mr. Haberman.

Gritty, fast-paced, and brutally real, this debut takes an unflinching look at what binds friends together--and what can tear them apart.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Northrop's debut is one dark ride, as events spin out of control for three friends who haven't had many lucky breaks. High school sophomores Micheal (the narrator), Tommy, Mixer and Bones are a pretty tight crew. (And, yes, that's how Micheal's name is spelled: "Mom or Dad, one of them dropped the ball on that one, probably Dad, in the hospital or wherever it is you fill out that paperwork.") Then Tommy goes missing. It isn't the first time, so the guys aren't initially too worried, but as time passes-and following increasingly unsettling interactions with their English teacher, Mr. Haberman, during a unit on Crime and Punishment-they begin to suspect that the teacher is involved in Tommy's disappearance. Micheal, who has an eye injury stemming from a childhood incident, is a sympathetic but unreliable narrator-something he himself recognizes ("Having a messed-up eye, you know, it'll affect how you see things"). The brutal narration, friendships put through the wringer and the sense of dread that permeates the novel will keep readers hooked through the violent climax and its aftermath. Ages 15-up. (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
VOYA - Jennifer Miskec
From the initial pages of Northrop's first novel the suspense begins to build. Where is Tommy? Is he dead? Did Mr. Haberman, the sadistic, chain-smoking English teacher, murder him? As high school sophomores Micheal [sic], Mixer, and Bones work to get to the bottom of the mystery of classmate Tommy's disappearance, increasingly more clues point to Haberman, especially the heavy, body-shaped load Micheal and his friends help Haberman lift into his car. Through the course of the novel, the young men discover that little is as it first appears, and little of what they believe to be true actually is—which they unfortunately discover a little too late. This dark novel is stripped down and slowly paced; from protagonist Micheal's perspective, his world is hostile and uncaring. Much like Crime and Punishment, the much-referenced novel the young men are reading in their English class, nihilism and alienation are prominent themes, and like its classic referent, these issues are left mostly unresolved by novel's end. Instead of philosophical resonance, however, the result here is a novel with little payoff. Even the mystery of Tommy's disappearance is resolved superficially at best. Northrop offers a kind of protagonist not prevalent in YA literature: Micheal is ultimately unmotivated and unrepentant. Although a hopeful ending is not necessary, this reviewer misses a protagonist with depth and a sense of purpose. Reviewer: Jennifer Miskec
Children's Literature - Joella Peterson
How far would an English teacher go to get students to understand the book Crime and Punishment? Mike, Tommy, Mixer, and Bones are four friends who struggle together to make it through each school day. When Tommy disappears, not only is the group dynamic of the other friends tested, but the three must figure out why their English teacher seems to know so much about murder and guilt. Readers watch as Mike, the narrator, discovers not only the balance of friendship, but also the power of ideas—both from the book and from life. Mike begins to realize that, similar to a literary novel, sometimes life is going to come up and smack you in the face, and you better be ready for the consequences. Northrop weaves together the story of four friends and Dostoyevsky's novel, resulting in a fast-paced, gritty novel that teens will love and teachers will compare and contrast with the classic. Reviewer: Joella Peterson
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Micheal, Tommy, Mixer, and Bones aren't so much viewed as troublemakers at Tattawa High School as they are personas non grata. On the fringe, the four friends struggle their way through school and to survive their dysfunctional families. When Tommy disappears, his friends write it off as another one of his escapades until Mr. Haberman, their remedial English teacher, starts speaking in riddles that lead them to believe that he may have killed the boy. Despite an interesting cast of flawed misfits and an edgy concept, Northrop doesn't bring the gritty tale to its full potential because of a slogging pace and meandering narrative.—Terri Clark, Smokey Hill Library, Centennial, CO
Kirkus Reviews
Underachiever Micheal finds that art imitates life a little too closely when his friend Tommy leaves school in a fit of anger and doesn't return for days. The timing of Tommy's disappearance coincides with the beginning of an English class unit on Crime and Punishment. Due to an unusual introduction to the book, Micheal and his friends Bones and Mixer start to believe that their English teacher, Mr. Haberman, is responsible for Tommy's disappearance and possibly his death. As he reads the book, Micheal cultivates the idea of Haberman's guilt. In violent Dostoevskyian fashion, the three boys take action against Haberman and are subsequently punished both by prison and guilt. Micheal's practiced, smart-yet-slacker voice is authentic but also uneven; there are times when the author, not Micheal, is describing his surroundings. A few subplots involving meeting girls and the changing nature of the boys' friendship add some realism but are ultimately unimportant. The boys' immediate, assured suspicion of Haberman's complicity in Tommy's disappearance is frightening and realistic, but Tommy's return and his reasons for leaving are a letdown, told and not shown. (Mystery. 15 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780545097499
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/15/2009
  • Pages: 256
  • Age range: 14 years
  • Lexile: HL860L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Northrop

Michael Northrop is the New York Times bestselling author of TombQuest, an epic book and game adventure series featuring the magic of ancient Egypt. He is also the author of Trapped, an Indie Next List Selection, and Plunked, a New York Public Library best book of the year and an NPR Backseat Book Club selection. An editor at Sports Illustrated Kids for many years, he now writes full-time from his home in New York City. Learn more at
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 13 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 5, 2011

    five stars

    This book is creepy, but it has just enough to keep you completely hooked. This book has this sort of dread to it...and the suspense is painful (in a good way). Despite it being somewhat brutal, I found it quite humorous at times. Most suprising, loved the ending. Excellent read, highly recommended.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Jennifer Rummel for

    Michael and his friends are treated like Gentlemen by the one teacher in school who might understand them. They're a bunch of misfits who dislike school. One of Michael's friends gets himself into trouble during class. He disappears from the classroom - and from town.

    No one can find him and he's not picking up his cell phone.

    The boys are worried - especially given the lesson from their English teacher the day before. He brought in a heavy barrel and invited the students to lift the barrel and guess the item inside it as a precursor to the new novel they'd be reading. He never revealed the barrel's contents and the boys came to some of their own conclusions.

    Could it be possible that Tommy's been murdered? How can they discover the truth behind his disappearance?

    GENTLEMEN is a chilling novel that starts out a little slow but ends with a bang. The cover alone will draw readers in, but the story will make them linger even after the book has been finished.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 16, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Pretty good

    The book started off great....suspense..drama....all that good stuff. The plot played out throughout the whole book and then just in time for the ending....the story line fell flat. That's it, it just ended. The whole book lead up to nothing and I was quite disappointed :(. Nevertheless, I WOULD recommend this book to a friend.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Great book!

    Gentlemen is a book of wide proportions that you must open your mind in order to see outside the box. The story was compelling and one I had yet to see. The uniqueness of it I loved. So I can't imagine why so many people gave this book 3 stars? I thought this book was one heck of a read.

    The moment I began this story I admit it was slow. It took a while for the build up to come and boy did it ever. Bones, Michael, Tommy, and Mixer are all good friends. They are all alike and troubled. Most teachers don't even look their way or even try to help them. When one teacher decides to open their minds he has no idea what can of worms he just let out.

    I can say that I understand these characters completely. For one, I was not a trouble maker in school but when I dated one, all of a sudden I could not be trusted. It was like all the teachers just changed. It was weird. Just because you are "troubled" doesn't mean anything. I like the fact that they teacher tried to help the boys. I was glad that he was able to reach the gentlemen when no one else had. Now, the way it all turned out, well, that I did not see.

    The ending was,... how can I say ironic? Here was this teacher only trying to help and it turned on him. But the teacher did succed in getting the boys what he wanted them to do. They read the book. They learned. And even at that the teacher held no ill will againist them. And for that he is a great teacher. I still wonder why would he put on a show like that? Hmmm...

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2013

    This book was one of the best I have read in a while. It really

    This book was one of the best I have read in a while. It really keeps you on the edge of your seat and wanting to read more. Bones, Tommy, Mixer, and Micheal are the guys at school that no one really understands and are sometimes afraid of. The only person that understands them is their English teacher, Mr. Haberman. One day, when a member of the group goes missing after an incident at school, they must figure out the cause and why their friend is missing, and all the evidence points to Mr. Haberman. This book is full of action and drama that will shock and entertain you. Not only do the boys get into some sticky situations throughout the book, they learn a life lesson that they will never forget. I recommend this book to anyone who likes action, suspense, and drama. At times this book can be random, but still very entertaining and captivating. It is one of the best books I have read and one of the most intense and interesting. This book is truly a great read, especially for teens and guys. 

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  • Posted April 12, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    It wasn't what I thought

    The first thing that got my attention was, the protagonist. It's being told by a point of a view of a guy. But not just any guy. Most of the male characters I've read in the majority of YA literature are..let's say sugar coated. They're there to attract the girl readers and make us into fan girls. (Yes, it's true. I have several crushes on some of them). In this case, it's different. Micheal (main character) is, acts, well, like a normal guy. The way he talks, the way he tries to get a girlfriend, his behavior with his friends and his attitude towards school, all of it is so realistic and well written. His friends are equally the same way so this part of the book, I thought was good.

    Getting onto the plot is a different story. First, the pace is a little slower than I thought. Also if you're looking for a super thriller, you won't find it here. There's really nothing thrilling or suspenseful about it. Which is disappointing as I was expecting something that packed a punch or at least with something that has a shocking twist. There were also several mini plots throughout the book and none of them contributed to the plot whatsoever. One that particularly irked me was Micheal's internet moments. He periodically checks back to see if he gets any responses from a potential girlfriend, and what this has to do with anything is beyond me. I thought it was terribly pointless and a page filler, which does nothing to advance the main plot.

    The ending climax is, well anti climactic. Tommy's end result wasn't anything special and you're left wondering if you've read the entire book for nothing. However, there's one particular moment when the students confront Haberman, the mood and tension between all of them was well written and felt. Otherwise, once the mood is over, everything just seems to come back to normal again. It's frustrating as some parts of the story was good and some of the writing is well done but the plot could have used a lot of work.

    The cover was a job well done, but I don't know if the book is really worth a read. It is pretty short so it can be covered in one sitting but it ends up being frustrating because with such an anti climactic ending, you feel as if you wasted your time. I'd say take it or leave it. Your choice.

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  • Posted July 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Well-Crafted, Suspenseful and Chilling Tale!!!

    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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  • Posted June 29, 2009

    A great book for guys!

    This is a book about three teens trying to figure out what happened to their friend, who goes missing at the start. Micheal, Tommy, and Mixer are tough kids trying to figure out the mystery. They start to suspect their English teacher is involved, and things go downhill quickly from there.

    The book gets pretty dark, but it's also about friendship and loyalty. It's very realistic and gritty with some action and mystery thrown in. All in all, it's an excellent book for teens who like a good, gritty read with maybe a little hope at the end.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    One of the worst books I've ever come across!

    I've had this book sitting bedside my bed for months now. I'm four chapters in and cannot stand to look at it near my other book si'm currently reading, you know the ones with substance and character. This book is worse than even some of the horrible books I've revied on B&N becasue at least those ones i finished! I cannot bear reading any more of this book and will probably end up throwing it away.

    I won't give or sell or recommend this book to anyone...i wouldn't even donate it to my local library because i don't want anyone wasting their time reading such horrible fiction. It's so bad I want to e-mail Scholastic Press and ask them what they were thinking when they allowed this man to publish such a crappy piece of literature!!! WHY DID I WASTE MY MONEY ON THIS!??!?!

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2011

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    Posted October 23, 2012

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    Posted June 30, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2010

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    Posted March 29, 2011

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