29. March 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Historical Fiction, Teen Books

Dodger by Terry Pratchett, 353 pages, read by Courtney, on 03/08/2013

How much do I love Terry Pratchett? I can’t even think of the correct quantitative word to answer that question. Dodger might just be his best yet. Dodger is an orphan who has spent most of his life on London’s streets. He makes ends meet by toshing (collecting coins, etc. from the sewers) and is notorious among those that inhabit the workhouses, sewers and streets. He’s most emphatically not a thief (but, if something is just lying around, well then…); he’s the Dodger. Here one moment and gone the next. Things might have continued on like that if it weren’t for Dodger’s admirable sense of chivalry. He hears a scream and finds himself rescuing a girl from two very nasty thugs. Shortly after, he comes across another well-known London-ite with good intentions, a Mr. Charlie Dickens. Dickens finds a safe place for the strange woman (who has yet to tell anyone about herself or her provenance). With the young lady, dubbed “Simplicity” by her caretakers, safety in hiding, Dodger becomes determined to see those guilty for Simplicity’s beating held responsible for their actions. Dodger’s mystery takes him all over London, meeting some very historically important personages and finding a bit out about himself as he goes along. In spite of his lack of education, Dodger proves himself to be, at all times, completely capable of handling any situation he finds himself in.
It took me a long time to read this one. Over a week, even. It took so long not because the pacing is slow, but because there’s so much detail and so many delicious puns that I didn’t want to miss a thing and frequently found myself going back over various paragraphs to make sure not a single joke was missed. Pratchett’s attention to detail is stunning. The city is as much a character as any of the human variety; the smells are palpable and the fog stings your eyes. The slang took some getting used to, but ultimately excelled in giving me a sense of place and time. I love the characters in this book so much; the real and imaginary (and canine…Onan, you stinky, lovable rascal). What’s even better is that, while there is a definite plot with a definite trajectory, there are themes and messages in this book that make its story timeless. Dodger’s era was one of tremendous change and each and every character seems to find themselves on the verge of potentially altering the course of history, if they haven’t already. This book has everything and then some going for it. I highly recommend Dodger to anyone who enjoys history, word play and good literature.

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