It seems sometimes as the young adult novels and literature intended for pre-school children take all the glory when it comes to children literature. Somehow it appears that middle schoolers are neglected. Even in the science this phase is often decribed as the quiet transitional phase between infancy and puberty. Children are calm and are getting ready to enter the wild world of adolescence. Nonetheless, there is a developed market for middle-schoolers, and new novels are printed on a daily basis. One of the authors who deals with this kind of creation is called Matthew J. Kirby. This acclaimed author spends his time living in a shadow and creating wonderful worlds in which children, as well as the adults can simply disappear. And who is Matthew J. Kirby exactly? What is his story?
Matthew J. Kirby was born in Utah in 1976. His childhood was filled with constant moving as his father worked in the Navy and had to migrate a lot (how come that children who spend their childhood traveling often go on to become successful children authors?). This led to an exhausting, but interesting odyssey over the USA. Kirby lived in many different states- Maryland, Rhode Island, California and ultimately Hawaii. Perhaps it was the exposure to the different conditions of life and different climate circumstances that inspired Kirby in the process of creating his flamboyant extreme universes in which nature does not forgive. Mathew J. Kirby was an undergraduate at Utah State University, where he got degree in History. This knowledge came in quite handy when Kirby represented the world of Victorian England in “A Taste for Monsters”, or when he showed dirty streets of New York in the time when gangs and street riots were an everyday occurrence. However, history is not the only sphere of interest in Kirby’s life. He also studied psychology and obtained a Master’s degree, as well as EdS degree in School Psychology. Kirby did not take up writing novels until he turned 34. After he published a book of poetry and another one consisted of short fiction, Kirby decided to start writing novels, a decision that proved to be one of the best in his life. His first book “The Clockwork Three” was received warmly, and he immediately gained an army of fans as well as the awards. It was listed as one of the Entertainment Weekly’s Flying Starts in 2010. His second novel “Icefall” was an even bigger success, as it earned Kirby his first Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Mystery in 2012. He was even hired to write a novel revolving around the plot of the famous videogame “Assassin’s Creed”. Besides the Edgar Award, he also won the Judy Lopez Memorial Award, as well as the PEN Center USA Award for Children’s Literature. His novels reached many top lists including those in the selection of the New York Public Library, as well as the ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults.
One of the most notable works that Kirby has created is the series called “The Dark Gravity Sequence”. The first novel of the series, is called “The Arctic Code”, and it was published in April 2015. This series provides us with the unusual combination- a post-apocalyptic future and a child as the protagonist. It follows the life of Eleanor Perry, a twelve-year-old girl from Tucson, Arizona, who tries to build a life in a world destroyed by climate changes. Our planet has been affected by yet another ice age, appropriately called “Freeze”. It destroyed the world as people knew it, as well as the achievements of the modern age. The society is back to square one, as it learns to cope with the new situation. This new cataclysm came surprisingly and the world’s leading organizations, primarily UN, are trying to find new sources of energy around the world. They sent a team of scientists to remote places in hope to find something that can help them build the society from scratch. This is where Eleanor enters the big stage. Her mother is a renowned geologist, who is sent to the Arctic to find the oil source. Eleanor comes with her on a trip that will change their lives. Namely, as Eleanor’s mother was in the middle of her research, exploring the ice flows, she simply vanished. It is now Eleanor’s duty to try to find her mother and possibly discover a way to put back things into normal. This task will not be easy, as our plucky protagonist has to tackle GET, an extremely powerful corporation that gained much power from the UN. Eleanor wants to unravel some secrets, whereas GET prefers to leave some doors unlocked. Who will be stronger in this fight and is Eleanor going to be capable of turning things around?
The second novel of “The Dark Gravity Sequence” was published in May 2016 under the name “Island of the Sun”. It continues the adventures of Eleanor Perry, her mother and her friends, as they find themselves at the wrong side of the law. Eleanor’s ventures at the Arctic did not pass unnoticed, especially when it comes to The Global Energy Trust. GET is provoked when Eleanor shut down one of the strange machines called Concentrator and they declared that the Perry family and their friends are the enemies of the state now. Regardless, Eleanor holds on to her plan to try to find the other Concentrators in hope that their elimination could mean salvation for the Earth. Along with the universal goal, Eleanor struggles with control issues, as she finds difficult to hand over the leading position of the expedition to her mother. Personal disputes will have to be left aside, though, if the protagonist of the novel wants to see her planet safe.
Matthew J. Kirby surely enjoys mixing different locations and themes. He is not a slave to one epoch or place, and a reader should not be surprised that his works encompass Victorian England, Ice Age catastrophe, bounty hunters and clockmakers. However, a reader should not be surprised if he realizes that heroes of these novels are mostly prepubescent children. Their characters can make an emotional impact too. That is often forgotten nowadays.Book Series In Order » Authors » Matthew J. Kirby