Monday, 24 February 2014
I blame my father for my love of Terry Pratchett.
Dodger, however, is no typical Pratchett. It is about a street boy with a big heart, who knows the sewers like the back of his hand. When he rescues a young girl from being beaten, he becomes involved with the hoi polloi of London, with whom he sets out to understand how this girl has ended up in this situation
It isn't Discworld, and it is written for a younger audience. This story is historical, very thoroughly well-researched, and explicitly Dickensian. The novel reads very much like a Dickens novel, with summaries at the start of each chapter, lots of old Victorian slang, and the exploration of social issues such as poverty and children's education. And on top of that, Charles Dickens himself is a main character, eager to turn Dodger's life into one of his best sellers.
The novel is funny and light-hearted, even with it's moral message about social inequality and related injustices. Dodger is a brilliant protagonist, impressing everyone with his fast thinking and integrity. He's the kind of guy anyone would be lucky to know.
But I feel unsure about the target audience for this novel - without a good knowledge of the context, it might be lost on the younger reader, whilst many adult readers adore it!
Last year, I saw Dodger adapted for the stage by the Studio Theatre Club in Abingdon, and both my dad and I loved it. It had been long enough since then that the story felt somewhere between returning to an old friend and reading something new. Dodger is a fairly niche novel, but I imagine lovers of Dickens and lovers of Pratchett will find something to enjoy here. And I am a lover of both.