Dodger by Terry Pratchett


Terry Pratchett
Harper, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-06-200949-4
FORMAT: Historical Fiction
AGES: Young Adult
3 Stars

I read this book as part of the 2013 YALSA The Hub Reading Challenge. So far for the challenge I have read:

21. Drama by Raina Telgemeier
20. Stargazing Dog by Takashi Murakami
19. Enchanted by Alethea Kontis
18. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
17. My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf
16. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
15. In Darkness by Nick Lake
14. Crusher by Niall Leonard
13. Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks
12. The Silence of Our Friends by Mark Long, Jim Demonakos, and Nate Powell
11. Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama
10. Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller by Joseph Lambert
9. Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm
8. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
7. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney
6. Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg
5. We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Levinson
4. Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson
3. Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different by Karen Blumenthal
2. Bomb: The Race to Build–and Steal–the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
1. Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 by Phillip Hoose

One dark and stormy night Dodger hears a scream while in the sewer. He is a tosher, so he spends quite a bit of time roaming the sewers in London looking for things that have dropped into the darkness. But the scream gets to him. He goes above ground to see what is happening and finds two men beating a woman. With the choice to fight them off, his life has changed forever. For this wasn’t just any lady. She is one that is married to an important man (though she won’t say who he is) and he (or perhaps his family) want her back…even if there is some question as to how she will be treated once she gets back. Aiding Dodger in defending the young woman is a Mr. Charles Dickens (Mr. Charlie to Dodger). Even though Dodger doesn’t quite know why he spends so much time scribbling, Mr. Charlie does have a bright head and knows more about the politics and situations of any number of wealthy Londoners. Therefore he is very helpful in guiding Dodger just enough to hopefully save a few lives along the way.

This is a very clever novel. I liked how there was so much of the Victorian era that is often left out in other historical fiction novels–the dirty bits that the lower classes had to deal with. And it shows how the politics of marriages and weddings weren’t always as wonderful as some stories would make it seem. Instead this threw together all bits of what a Victorian London might have looked like with a few real people in the mix (Mr. Charlie just being one of them, Sweeney Todd being another). And I liked Dodger. He doesn’t always understand everything going on around him, but he is “sharp” as one of the characters said. He would do anything for someone once he made up his mind to help them. And he knows when to take some advice and when to jump ship and do things on his own. He is the type of character that gets into your mind and doesn’t leave after the book has finished. However, that all being said. This book also has the long descriptions and setting (of Victorian London) that demands as much attention as the characters and the plot. Perhaps this was a nod to Charles Dickens and his type of descriptions and setting (since he often did the same thing, although on a much larger scale). There is a lot of action in here (and quite a bit of fights and near escapes) but it is sandwiched between so much description and thinking that some readers might find it a little hard to get through. Great ideas though. Good story.

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