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What We’re Reading: Dodger

Post by Lauren Kage
Posted August 27, 2013 in NoveList Bookshelf, NoveList Plus

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by Terry Pratchett

“Young man, the games we play are lessons we learn. The assumptions we make, things we ignore, and things we change make us what we become.”

The eponymous Dodger grubs, pilfers, and purloins his way through the innermost square mile of early Victorian London. He never steals. That would be wrong! But...on occasion things left in the street, or under the street, or in an unwary pocket just happen to come into Dodger's possession. In the opening scene of Terry Pratchett's Dodger, that "thing" is a girl beset by thugs. And so begins a journey that leads this “geezer” from the poorest rookeries to encounter some of the most notable personages, real and legendary, of his time. With the assistance of a journalist named Charlie Dickens as well as other notables of the time, Dodger learns a thing or two about achieving his full potential and the tenebrous nature of truth. He may also save the girl from a terrible fate, if all goes according to plan.

Terry Pratchett applies his playful love of language to what he terms a period fantasy, unrestrained by historical accuracy but lively with the atmosphere and slang of the time. Dodger’s story is an uncomplicated, charming coming-of-age motif laced with wry comedy, wit, and earnest philosophizing that enhances the telling without overburdening the tale. The result is a light, fast-paced, and enjoyable read that nevertheless leaves the reader feeling better informed of Victorian social conditions, recounted in detail through Dodger’s exploits and Pratchett’s signature footnotes. Recommended by Lauren Kage.