Study Guide


By Marcus Sedgwick

Revolver Introduction

If there's one thing Jack Sparrow has taught us, it's that dead men tell no tales. Well, that and how to make loads of smoky eyeliner look super hot.

Revolver kicks off by telling us exactly the opposite: it turns out dead men can talk if you listen hard enough. Yet this isn't a story about ghosts or magical creatures who come back from the grave to tell us haunting tales.

The novel tells the story of Sig Andersson, a young teen who finds his dad's corpse and has to figure out what happened from a bunch of clues. Along the way, Sig encounters a mysterious (read: scary… make that terrifying) stranger, and secrets about his dad he never thought could be true.

Marcus Sedgwick's 2011 novel was shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Children's Book Award and a recipient of a Printz Honor. But you shouldn't just read it because of the awards it's garnered—you should pick this book up because it's full of mystery and suspense and keeps you guessing every page of the way.

Plus, it's also big on talking about the Second Amendment, a.k.a. the Right to Bear Arms.  As Sig tries to piece together what's happened in his dad's past—detective style—he's also got to come to terms with his parents' view on guns and violence and figure out what he thinks about it all for himself. Considering the fact that these issues are debates for the ages, this read is pretty much timeless, and definitely offers up some seriously chewy food for thought.

What is Revolver About and Why Should I Care?

Sig's parents might be in rural Alaska during the Nome Gold Rush way back in 1899, but they represent two sides of a pretty big—and pretty classic—issue in our country: the right to bear arms. Ever heard of it?

The Second Amendment is only twenty-seven words—two clauses connected by a comma, to be precise—but few phrases in the United States Constitution have generated so much heated debate. It goes a little something like this: A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. (Okay, it goes exactly like that.)

Seems simple enough, right? Not so fast, Shmoopsters. Guns and politics hang out at the heart of this matter, so you know people are going to have strong—and differing—opinions on this one. And Revolver represents both sides of the argument.

Sig's mom, Maria, represents the side that's in favor of strict control and regulation of firearms—she's worried about what will happen if her family owns a gun. Her husband, however—Sig's dad, Einar—falls in the camp that believes steadfastly in a natural and historically protected right to self-defense. He believes forgiveness and peace are great and all… up to a point. Lucky Sig gets to hang out in the middle, struggling to assess both positions and come to an opinion for himself. Needless to say, it's a tricky task.

The thing about this task, though, is that it doesn't just pertain to Sig—if you haven't had to already, chances are decent that at some point you'll be asked to form an opinion on the role guns should play in our society (if nothing else, it'll come up over dinner some evening). If you want to know the quick and dirty facts about this issue, check out what we have to say about it—then dive into Revolver to see how Sig navigates this hot-button topic. You just might form your own strong opinion as you read.

Revolver Resources


Marcus Mania
Check out the author's main hub, complete with his latest blogs, fan mail, and tweets.


Dear Marcus
All the FAQ—and their answers—the man behind the gun gets most often.

A Surprised Critic
A review of Revolver from Book Smugglers.


Sedgwick talks about how to bring a character to life when writing.

Perfect Plotting
How does the award-winning author decide what happens in a story? He tells us here.

Revolving around Reading
Listen to the words straight from the author's mouth, as he reads the first chapter of the novel.

Trailer Park
A librarian's trailer for the book. Warning: it will make you want to read it. Again.


Colt Call
If you were wondering what this "beautiful" gun looks like, look no further than this closeup. 

All Aboard
A poster for an 1898 boat to Alaska, just like the one Sig and his family take.

Baby It's Cold Outside
For all the gold rushers hoping to strike it lucky.

Someone Say Squeeze
Hopefuls on board a ship to Nome really had to get friendly with their neighbors.