Dodger

Dodger is a fun story from Terry Pratchett about a street urchin in Dickens' London. | A book review by NewberyandBeyond.com
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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. (Summary via Goodreads.com)

So I’ve never read a Terry Pratchett book (except for Good Omens, which he co-wrote with the amazing Neil Gaiman). I know, I know! How can this be? Well, fantasy isn’t usually my thing, and all I know about Terry Pratchett is his massive Discworld series. One day I’ll tackle that, but when I came across this standalone novel in audio form, I thought I’d give it a try.

But Dodger wasn’t anything like what I thought it would be. For one thing, there are no sci fi/fantasy elements in it at all! Dodger is a young man growing up on the dirty streets of Victorian London, but when he is caught standing up for a young woman, his life takes a sudden turn. He meets Charlie Dickens, Sweeney Todd, and Benjamin Disraeli, mixing actual historic figures with those from fiction.

Dodger is a great character, and his scrapes on (and below) the streets of London were fun to read about, and the audio version I listened to had a great narrator, but on the whole I found this book forgettable. Here’s hoping that the next Terry Pratchett book I pick up will wow me like I was expecting this one to do.

Of course, in keeping with my Write 31 Days series called Lovely Words, here are a few of my favorite quotes from Dodger. (Terry Pratchett has such a clever way with words.)

“Money makes people rich; it is a fallacy to think it makes them better, or even that it makes them worse. People are what they do, and what they leave behind.”

“There were two ways of looking at the world, but only one when you are starving.”

“The man gave Dodger a cursory glance that had quite a lot of curse in it.”

Rating: Good but Forgettable

This post is part of the Write 31 Days series Lovely Words. You can read the rest of the series here.

Good Omens

Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett join forces to tell the story of the funniest apocalypse you'll ever see. | A book review by NewberyandBeyond.com
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According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.

So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.

And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist . . . (Summary via Amazon.com)

I don’t really know how to classify this madcap ride of a novel, but it is hilarious. Neil Gaiman is a favorite author of mine, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. Together, they wrote the funniest apocalyptic novel I’ve ever gotten my hands on.

The angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley have been on earth for so long that they have formed a reluctant alliance. And when they learn that the forces of heaven and hell are sending the Antichrist to earth in order to set the apocalypse in motion, they realize that they have grown much too fond of earth to allow it to happen. So they, along with a cast of unusual characters, keep a careful eye on the Antichrist, hoping to sway him away from totally destroying the world. But they soon find that they’ve been watching the wrong kid, and they have only days to avert the apocalypse by any means necessary.

Good Omens pokes fun at many aspects of Christianity, so even though it’s not meant to be taken seriously, it helps to have at least a passing knowledge of the biblical accounts of Adam and Eve, Revelation, and so on. The characters are quirky and interesting, and the writing is fast paced and often hilarious. (The footnotes are particularly great.) If you’re a fan of either Neil Gaiman or Terry Pratchett and somehow haven’t yet read this book, you must read it. If you love funny, offbeat stories and you don’t mind a not-so-serious look at the end times, you should also pick it up.

Rating: Pretty Darn Good

31 Days of All Things Books by NewberyandBeyond.com
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