Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

Young Quills Review

Last updated: 20th November 2015

1. Paragraph 1: When and where is the book set? Who are the main characters? What happens to them in the story?

The book is set in a quiet town in America during the 1960's. The main characters are Jack and Mrs Voller. The book is partly about Mrs Voller telling Jack about the history of the town, Norville, and partly about Jack trying to amuse himself, from playing with his friends to discovering interesting ways to die. Jack spends much of his time at Mrs Voller's house, typing up the history of the town as Mrs Voller says it.

Paragraph 2: Did you enjoy the book? Is there a special character or event or place that you particularly liked or thought was effective? Do you think the historical setting and detail in the book was realistic? Did the book make you want to find out more about that period of history? Did the book make you want to read more books by this author? Is there anything else you want to say about this book?

I did enjoy the book as it was funny and interesting. My favourite part is towards the beginning when Jack, while admiring equipment previously owned by now dead Japanese soldiers, tells us about his father fighting the Japanese. I think some parts of the book are more historical than others, for example during Mrs Voller's talks about the town and the history, where she talks about people such as Wat Tyler is more factual than when Jack talks about his dream of the Incans gathering gold, where he imagines things that are untrue and unfactual, and slightly more to entertain the reader than to inform them.

Paragraph 3: If you didn't enjoy the book: why? Was it the story/characters/style you didn't like? What did you think about the historical setting and detail in the book? Is there anything else you want to say about this book?

Overall I believe the book was interesting and funny, however there were some parts which seemed slightly irrelevant and boring, which I did not enjoy reading, but for the most part it was informative and entertaining.

Reviewed by Miranda


2. Dead End is a brilliant book about a young boy called Jack. I am really squeamish about blood and the boy gets a nose bled every time he gets scared or panics, which he does a lot. This probably sounds really weird but didn't put me off the book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's jam packed with History because nearly on every page there is a history fact. It is hard to remember every one but one that stuck in my mind is the Pizzaro one when they were melting down beautiful golden statues into boring Spanish coins. I loved the way the author used a fictional story packed with real History facts. It is a brilliant book to read as it is funny, has real facts, is interesting, and a bit weird.


3. I thought that ‘Dead End in Norvelt' was a very factual book as it contains a heavy amount of general historical knowledge, which I thought was quite interesting, however at the same time, I thought the knowledge was sometimes added in randomly. As far as the story line of the book, I thought it was very interesting and linked up quite well along with keeping the reader engaged in the book. I also very much liked the characters and some of the humour added in, like when every time ‘Jack' was pressured or scared, a stream of blood would come dripping out of his nose. The book was very fascinating.

Rate: 8.5/10

Reviewed by Ria


4. This book is set in the town of Norvelt. It has a rather queer storyline. The main character (Jack) is a likeable fellow, but he has very strange problem. Whenever he is frightened, he has a nose bleed. Unfortunately for Jack, he gets frightened often throughout the book - scared by dead bodies....

After being grounded for the whole summer holiday, Jack is not happy. His only way of getting out the house, is when Miss Volker needs him to write obituaries.

Miss Volker once promised Eleanor Roosevelt (the founder of Norvelt in the 1930s) she would see the town to the end. She writes all the obituaries for the original Norvelters. Only when she has completed her task, will she marry Mr. Spizz and retire.

The strange thing is, after a Hells Angel dies in the town and his friends curse it, the original Norvelters seem to dropping dead too fast. Is it the curse of the Hells Angels? Or is someone deliberately killing the pensioners?

Read to find out....

Overall this book is impossible to put down. It is a very intriguing book with its twists and turns and I definitely would rate it as a family book.

Rated : 4/5

Reviewed by Lauren


5. This book is set in a village called Norvelt in the early sixties. You learn quite a lot about different events that happened in history because miss Volker (an old woman) tells Jack (the main character) many stories from history, and Jack has a history book that he likes reading. An example of one of these stories is Francisco Pizzaro's conquest of the Incas in Peru. In 1532, Pizzaro and fewer than 200 men captured the Inca chief (Atahualpa), who had an army of 50,000 soldiers, yet all they had to do to defeat them.

This book was really good because I didn't ever want to put the book down. I just wanted to keep reading until I'd finished reading, which obviously wasn't going to happen because of school. But I did read this book in a lot of my spare time. Jack Gantos kept me interested by making sure that there was another event happening as soon as another had stopped. There are so many surprises throughout this book, like when Jack uses a gun (which gets him grounded throughout the whole summer), and when he thinks that he's been shot by the rifle, when in fact his nose is bleeding.

The main characters in this book are Jack, his mum, his dad, miss Volker and Spizz. I liked all of the main characters apart from Spizz, because he's a very bossy and fussy policeman. Jack Gantos (the main character in this book) was narrating the book, and ironically, that's the author's name too. Jack has a nose bleeding problem - it bleeds whenever he's scared or upset, which is why there's often blood running down his face throughout the book. Really, Jack's a bit of a wimp but would love to drive a car.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, because it's one of those books that act like drugs - they make you completely addicted and you just can't stop reading! I would definitely recommend this to a friend - especially if they like death, and I'd give this book a 9 out of 10 because it's really interesting and really describes each character in lots of detail so it feels like you know them personally, but it sets a bad example to those under 18, because Jack is already driving a car at the age of 11!

Reviewed by Natasha