Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ever Capable Dodger

Published:  September 13th, 2012
By: Terry Pratchett
HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN-13:  9780062009494

A storm. Rain-lashed city streets. A flash of lightning. A scruffy lad sees a girl leap desperately from a horse-drawn carriage in a vain attempt to escape her captors. Can the lad stand by and let her be caught again? Of course not, because he's . . . Dodger.

Seventeen-year-old Dodger may be a street urchin, but he gleans a living from London's sewers, and he knows a jewel when he sees one. He's not about to let anything happen to the unknown girl—not even if her fate impacts some of the most powerful people in England.

From Dodger's encounter with the mad barber Sweeney Todd to his meetings with the great writer Charles Dickens and the calculating politician Benjamin Disraeli, history and fantasy intertwine in a breathtaking account of adventure and mystery.


     One night when Dodger is out and about, he witnesses a young woman throw herself from a carriage to escape her kidnappers.  Determined to help her, he beats up the men and sends them on their way.  Then Charles Dickens and Henry Mayhew happen along the scene, taking the young woman to Mayhew's home to recover (with Dodger coming along to supervise).  But keeping her alive will take more effort than this, when it becomes obvious that people in high places would prefer for her to be dead.  So Dodger sets off on a mission to find out who ordered the kidnapping and to save the young woman from them once and for all.  Along the way as Dodger rises from the sewers to become a gentleman, he crosses paths with Benjamin Disraeli, Sweeney Todd, Robert Peel, and other famous faces.  Will Dodger, Charlie and the rest of their friends be able to forge a new life for the young woman in question, or will her past catch up with her in a lethal way?  This is actually my first Terry Pratchett book ever.  Not that I have never heard of the many wonders of Discworld!  I do happen to know that he is lauded for his fantasy writings and that this book is one of his few stand alones not part of that particular series.  I thought it was a very interesting concept, almost like a Dickens novel, but with a specific brand of humor and characterization that seemed to be unique to the author alone.  As much as I liked Dodger and found him amusing, I felt like he wasn't quite extraordinary enough to be the main focus.  It was like Pratchett tried to make him that way, but fell just a little bit short.  Also, to be completely honest, the politics of Victorian era London weren't exactly thrilling and keeping me on the edge of my seat.  Honestly, a fun book but not the best one that I've read this year.  My favorite part was Dodger's encounter with Sweeney Todd.  I do plan on picking up another Terry Pratchett book in the future and I have a sneaking suspicion that I'll like his fantasy better than his historical fiction attempt.  I would recommend this to established fans of Pratchett, fans of Dickens and reluctant boy readers in middle school and high school.  

VERDICT:  3.75/5  Stars

**No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.**

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