Dodger by Terry Pratchett
Digital Audiobook narrated by Stephen Briggs
Published by HarperCollins on September 25th 2012
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, Humor, Young Adult
Length: 360 pages or 10 hours, 30 minutes
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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.
Beloved and bestselling author Sir Terry Pratchett combines high comedy with deep wisdom in this tale of an unexpected coming-of-age and one remarkable boy's rise in a complex and fascinating world.
Meet the artful Dodger.
Dodger isn’t a hero, but sometimes a young man finds himself in a circumstance where he must act heroically. This is case when he comes across a young woman being beaten in the streets of London. Chasing off the villains with a trusty crowbar, Dodger not only saves the young lady’s life, but becomes entangled in a rescue and plot to protect this nameless noblewoman from her evil husband and avoid starting a war. He is joined by a cast of characters (both historical and fiction), including Charles Dickens, or “Charlie”.
The characters could have been better.
To be honest? I was a bit bored with this book. Dodger takes everything easily, with a grain of salt, and thus nothing seems very exciting. He’s the sort of person you’d really like in a tough situation, but as a protagonist, things seemed to dawdle on. I think his strongest moment was near the end of the book in the sewers while he was preparing the cover-up.
As for the supporting characters, they’re hit-or-miss. I find Charlie and Simplicity boring as well, but Solomon was an interesting character. I do believe it is worth mentioning that Solomon is Jewish, but not the best practitioner. He is a kind person, and a strict negotiator… which is not an insult, but it is a stereotype. I was a bit disappointed that Pratchett decided to use this character trait for him.
Dodger is historical fiction.
Terry Pratchett is known for his Discworld novels (which are loads of fun) and his stand-alones don’t get a lot of attention. Dodger is historical fiction, and as such, is not as funny, remarkable, or magical as some of her other books. I found that this particular novel was reminiscent of the Night’s Watch line of his Discworld novels.
The beginning of the book is written in a similar way to a collection of related short stories as we follow Dodger around the city. There is a scene with Sweeney Todd in the middle of the book, which I thought was a really good interpretation of the character. Pratchett takes a good twist on the character’s murderous instincts, one which has nothing to do with meat pies. I won’t spoil it! It ends up being a turning point in the story and in Dodger as a character, not to mention a fun tidbit.
While I will still read Pratchett’s books, Dodger wasn’t for me, even though I like historical fiction. I felt like it was very flat. His writing style can feel a bit flat in the Discworld novels as well, except there is a lot more humor in those and I remember them more fondly. That said, I do think that most fans of Pratchett would really enjoy this book, because it is another piece of his work, and he was extremely well-loved.
I also have to confess I’ve read very little of Dickens, but the storytelling style was reminiscent of The Chimes or A Christmas Carol. That, I’m sure, was intentional, and should be commended.
Pratchett does a very good job of tying up a story. He leaves questions, but not anxiety, and I like it.