Hoover, P.J. Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life
September 16th 2014
E ARC from Netgalley.com
We first meet Tut in Ancient Egypt, where he is trying to get away from his evil uncle Horemheb, but as we all know, Tut does not escape. However, he is immortal, and doomed to spend eternity at 14, being constantly in the 8th grade! He and his guardian, Gil, have an apartment in Washington, D.C., where they live with Horus (who stays in the form of a one-eyed cat, but talks) and Tut's shabtis, who keep things clean and take care of Tut. After a trip to see a Tut exhibit, Tut has a project that he has to do with Henry, but weird things are happening. When recharging his scarab heart at an obelisk, the monument explodes, revealing the name of Set, to whom Horemheb was loyal. He's almost killed by asps delivered by a brother of classmate Seth, and new girl Tia is paying a lot of suspicious attention to Tut. Fueled by the need for revenge, Tut seeks out a knife that will kill Horemheb, consulting Isis and letting Henry in on his secret. A plague of beetles and flooding descends on the area, closing Tut's school and making his goal seem more logical. Gil is against violence to Horemheb, but Tut feels that his release must have something to do with the plague.
Strengths: Action packed, funny, and steeped in Egyptian mythology, this is a great choice for readers who adore mythology, and there are lots of those. Egypt is covered in our 6th grade curriculum, and there's not as much fiction about it out there as I would like to see. The D.C. setting and use of artifacts is fun, and the shabtis and Horus are amusing as well. Best of all, it came in under 200 pages! I'd been busy but had to get reading done, and had this been yet another 400 page fantasy book, I would have cried. As it was, I looked at the length and thought "Oh, sure. Easy."
Think any middle grade readers ever look at books in this way? Food for thought!
Weaknesses: This had some inelegant turns of phrase at the beginning and a few plot devices that struck me as odd and made me question the accuracy of the mythology. I don't know that this will bother the target demographic-- as a former Latin teacher I expected Tut to have a more... Egyptian voice. And a different name. This would be open to a sequel (which might help clear up my confusion about Tia's motivations), which wouldn't be bad, but it would be more fun to have other stand alone books about other teen immortals by this author.
When I'm working on book orders and it seems like half the books are sequels, it makes me feel less favorable towards series!