From the back of the book:
Too smart for his own good, Timothy Freshwater has finally been expelled from the last school in the city. His father takes him to his office, where he meets Mr. Shen, a mysterious mailroom clerk who turns out to be a dragon. Forced to take human shape for a thousand years, he must return to China and scale the ancient Dragon’s Gate to resume his true form.
Now Timothy finds himself Mr. Shen’s latest keeper, stalked by a ninja and chased by a menacing trio of black taxicabs. When Mr. Shen falls into the wrong hands, Timothy must rescue him from a fleet of Chinese pirate junks. All hope seems lost – until a strange-looking black brig with red sails called the Ironic Gentleman appears on the horizon. Relying on his own ingenuity and an annoying new ally, a girl called Alex, Timothy must take on the fleet and its evil commander to save the dragon from eternal imprisonment.
This is the sequel or companion of Alex and the Ironic Gentleman, which I absolutely loved. While I found that one absolutely charming, I unfortunately found this one to be slightly underwhelming.
Kress’s narration was still top-notch. I really love her narration style and the humour that she puts into her stories. In that way they really do stand apart from other middle grade novels, and are completely in a class of their own.
One of the things I had really liked about Alex and the Ironic Gentleman was the huge cast of colourful characters. Timothy and the Dragon’s Gate don’t compare quite to this. I found Timothy himself to be rather bland. Yes, he was apathetic towards everything that happened around him, and that was how his personality was supposed to be, but gosh darn it he ended up boring because of it. Mr. Shen, the dragon, was another character who didn’t seem to have personality… I mean, he’s a freaking dragon! He should be much more interesting than solely for the fact that he can float in the air. In all honesty, none of the characters sparkled until Alex and her crew showed up halfway through the book.
As far as adventure goes, however, this book certainly had a good story. There was always some kind of action going on – whether it’s Timothy running from evil people who want his dragon, or sea battles against pirates, or being pushed out of an airplane by a ninja… well, there’s always some kind of excitement going on.
I just wish that the excitement weighed out the fact that I didn’t feel anything towards the main characters.
The Bottom Line
Didn’t enjoy this as thoroughly as I had hoped to. Rather disappointed in that.