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Dodger Hardcover – September 25, 2012
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Beloved and bestselling author Sir Terry Pratchett's Dodger, a Printz Honor Book, combines high comedy with deep wisdom in a tale of one remarkable boy's rise in a fantasy-infused Victorian London.
Seventeen-year-old Dodger is content as a sewer scavenger. But he enters a new world when he rescues a young girl from a beating, and 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.
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“Superb.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Compulsively readable.” — Washington Post
“Lovingly crafted and completely enjoyable. The temptation to quote sentences, whole paragraphs, and possibly entire chapters is almost irresistible.” — Booklist (starred review)
“It’s a glittering conjuring act, but there’s real heart here, too.” — Horn Book (starred review)
“Pratchett does a bang-up job of re-creating Old London, complete with pathos, humor, and danger, all narrated in Dodger’s unique voice.” — School Library Journal (starred review)
“Masterful. Unexpected, drily funny and full of the pathos and wonder of life: Don’t miss it.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Pratchett weaves fact and fiction seamlessly....Genius.” — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)
“A masterwork from a treasure and hero of a writer, and it will delight you.” — Cory Doctorow, New York Times Bestselling author
“Ebullient, funny and delightful.” — The Guardian
“Wonderful.” — Daily Mail (London)
“Fresh, vibrant and full of energy, a triumph.” — SFX (UK)
“Masterly and entertaining.” (Children’s Book of the Week) — Sunday Times (London)
PRAISE FOR THE NOVELS OF TERRY PRATCHETT: “Exuberant and irresistible.” — Washington Post
“Fun and fantastic and thoughtful.” — Chicago Tribune
“Passionately wise, spectacularly hilarious, and surpassingly humane.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Moving and highly satisfactory.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Pratchett combines gut-busting humor and genuine poignancy.” — School Library Journal (starred review)
“Thrilling, humorous, moving, and most wise.” — Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) (starred review)
- Publisher : HarperCollins; 1st US Ed edition (September 25, 2012)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 368 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0062009494
- ISBN-13 : 978-0062009494
- Reading age : 13 - 17 years
- Lexile measure : 1210L
- Grade level : 8 - 9
- Item Weight : 1.1 pounds
- Dimensions : 6 x 1.17 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #918,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Despite what the title might suggest, there’s no direct connection between Dodger and the works of Charles Dickens; even if there were a book that happened to feature a character with a similar name, that’s more because Pratchett’s imaginary tosher (a slang term for those who root for treasures among the drainage and sewers of England) could be an inspiration for Dickens’ imagination. But Dodger is undeniably a purely Pratchett creation: a streetwise, playful, cynical (yet soft-hearted) rogue who makes a living for himself, feels a bit larger than life, and who can’t help but want to improve the world as he sees it, even if he’d deny that. More than that, he’s a richly and undeniably researches character, one whose dialogue is full of 18th century slang, who feels like a genuinely street-educated child rather than an author playing dumb, and whose actions feel of a piece with his complicated morality.
That goes doubly for the rich, marvelous world that Pratchett creates, thanks (according to the author himself) in no small part to the research of Henry Mayhew, a contemporary of Dickens who researched conditions among the working poor in London at the time. In Pratchett’s hands, Dodger brings to life a city defined by a massive social and economic divide, to say nothing of the intrigue of the upper classes, the scars of a recent war, and more. It’s a vivid, wondrous tapestry that Pratchett has created, and he populates it with characters both non-fictional (Dickens and Mayhew both make appearances, as does Robert Peel, and other various figures) and fictional, including an infamous “demon” barber of the time that Pratchett uses as the centerpiece for one of his most effective, quietly powerful points. And not content to only use the creations of others, Pratchett does his usual magnificent character building work, with my favorite being Dodger’s Jewish protector, teacher, and friend Solomon Cohen.
The only weakness of Dodger – well, maybe it’s more of a flaw, because there’s really nothing bad about the book, just an aspect that’s not as strong as the rest – is the plot, which is serviceable, but really just functions as a way to string together the various incidents of the novel. That’s Pratchett’s style, of course – it’s what makes the Discworld books so incredible and joyous – but Dodger feels a little more focused by virtue of its single main character, and the wandering story sometimes feels a little sloppy. There’s some fascinating aspects, mind you, and the central hook – in which Dodger saves a young woman from a beating, only to discover that it’s involved him in some massive intrigue on a governmental level – is a good one. But the final showdown feels a bit silly, involving an ultra-capable government assassin character who feels out of step with the rest of the novel.
And yet, that’s a flaw of the book, but it’s a minor one, and one that certainly doesn’t take away from the joy of the book. As always, Pratchett is a master of commenting on the world around him through the medium of his writing and fiction, and Dodger is no exception, using 18th-century England as a way of commenting on how little things may have changed over the years. More than that, Dodger is another reminder of Pratchett’s wonderful, magical prose, which brings characters to life through little more than their remarkable, distinct voices. And adding that to the rich world creation he’s doing here…well, it all makes for a great read, even with that flaw. But do you really expect anything else from Pratchett?
Dodger is a tosher, which is one who scavenges in London’s sewer system in search of wedding rings that were washed down drains or coins that rolled into storm drains. The fact that he’s mostly collecting lost items may make him more palatable / likable than the pickpocketing Dodger of Dickens’ work. That said, this version of Dodger isn’t above absconding with valuables that seem to be “lying around”--even if they happen to be “lying” on the owner’s desk in the owner’s house. However, it’s clear from the outset that Dodger has a working moral compass. His liberties with earthly possessions don’t interfere with his understanding of what is right and wrong when it comes to treating others as you would like to be treated. This makes for a character who seems more mischievous than felonious.
Like many modern works that are based on Victorian era fiction, this book not only borrows fictitious characters but also individuals from the real world. Pratchett weaves Charles Dickens, Benjamin Disraeli, Henry Mayhew, and Angela Burdett-Coutts into his novel. (If the latter two names don’t ring bells, the former among them was an advocate for the poor and the latter was the wealthiest woman in England at the time, a woman who opened schools for impoverished children.) Except for Dickens [and to some extent Burdett-Coutts], these characters don’t play major roles, but more help to make the reader feel they reside in the world of the novel. [However, the book is dedicated to Mayhew.] There are also other fictional characters, most notably Sweeney Todd—the butcherous barber of penny dreadful fame.
This novel displays generous helpings of Pratchett’s humor and skill in setting the reader into a world that would otherwise feel foreign. One needn’t have read “Oliver Twist” [or any other works] to make sense of the book. It stands alone. [It may be easier if you haven’t read “Oliver Twist,” because you won’t have an ingrown sense of the character.]
I’d highly recommend this book for readers who like light-hearted historical fiction. It’s funny and engaging.
This historical fantasy steps outside of the Discworld, but it loses absolutely nothing in the transition to a slightly fantasized Victorian England. If you are anything like me, you will passionately cheer on Dodger and all of his allies. I read along in the Kindle edition with the wonderful audible narrator, who actually managed to make the book even better than the first time I read it in print alone.
The world lost a bright light when it lost Pratchett; thankfully, we have his works to allow him to live on in our hearts and minds, where he so comfortably lived and worked in anyway.
Top reviews from other countries
The novel has as many unexpected twists and turns as a macrame dream-catcher woven by someone on acid. It is a tremendous adventure story, which also makes one reflect on the nature of the human spirit, and humanity.
I haven't yet mentioned that this book is very cleverly witty, sometimes viciously so. Do watch out as you re-read it (as you certainly will want to) for the seemingly effortless asides on the works of Charles Dickens and Benjamin Disraeli.
Fascinating in all departments. Not a children's book. Nor a Discworld story.
P J Headford
The book revolves around a very Dickensian London and is the tale of a young man by the name of Dodger. No, this Dodger isn't the infamous Dicken's Dodger this Dodger is a very different kettle of fish altogether. This Dodger is what is known as a tosher, a sewer scavenger who eeks out some kind of living from things he finds in the sewers, things that people have lost like coins, gems and the like. He has no family to speak of but does have a series of aquaintances that you get to meet during the course of the book and some of them are pretty interesting.
Dodger is a total nobody until the day he steps in to save the life of a stranger under attack by thugs. Little does Dodger realise what a fateful decision he has made by stepping forward and saving the young girls life.
Life rapidly alters for Dodger when he decides that he can do a better job of protecting his young lady than the adults can and he finds himself in the midst of an adventure, in the company of some rather infamous people..... reporter Charlie Dickens, Benjamin Disraeli and Sweeney Todd among many more.
This is a wonderful book and is Sir Terry at his best. The story twists and turn in so many unexpected ways as you explore a London of the past with Dodger. The world is beautifully written as you would expect and the humour is obvious through-out and is firmly tongue-in-cheek as you would expect. Dodger is a fantastic character and so very likeable despite the fact that he is a very naughty young man indeed, the proverbial cheeky chappy! Dodger's relationships with all the various characters throughout the book are wonderful, some are sweet, some are a little more tense but some are just genius, such as Charlie Dickens, who is a touch of class and brilliant character introduction.
This may be classed as a children's book but as an adult reading I can say that you wouldn't necessarily realise that fact if you didn't know it. Terry Pratchett had again written a book for younger viewers that is just as good for adult and as I said if you didn't know you wouldn't know the difference and I think that is one of the many things that Sir Terry is so talented at doing.
I am a HUGE fan of the Discworld novels but once in a while it's very refreshing to read a story that isn't based there, as in this case. It may not be classic Discworld but this book is still a treat for the senses and I would highly recommend it to young and old!
The term historical fantasy comes in because it features original characters and actual historical figures.
It's complete and self contained as a story in one book. Recommended reading age would be eleven and up. Thanks to some violence and mild language. There's also a lot of references to certain human waste products. But as a certain puppet rat who hosts a certain tv show would say 'it's horrible. But it's true!'
Because this is a book very much steeped in the history of the time.
Despite the recommended age, it is good enough to be enjoyed by older readers as well.
It runs for three hundred and forty seven pages and is divided into sixteen chapters. Plus a note from the writer at the end which fills in a lot of the historical detail. And is well worth reading.
The main character of the story is Dodger. A Tosher by profession. Those who scavenge the sewers of London looking for valuable finds. When one day, in the middle of a heavy storm, he sees a young lady in distress and rushes to her aid, this opens up a whole new world for him. Trying to help the girl and find out why people are after her leads him into contact with a very astute journalist. Some well known figures. Plus a very dangerous one.
Dodger's life is never going to be the same again.
This is not a novel of humour. But as ever with this writer it does nonetheless allow the plot to arise from character action and interaction. All of which is superbly written. The thrust of the story is more how Dodger grows and changes as a person as a result of his actions, and the mystery of the girl is somewhat secondary at times to that.
The characterisation can feel a bit familiar if you've read a lot of Pratchett before, given the way certain characters act and speak to others. But the quality of the writing is strong enough to make that not be a problem. Plus there's fascinating historical detail throughout which will keep you involved.
A quality bit of writing from a master storyteller.
Having said that, this is not a book about social conditions either. It is both an adventure and a love story as our hero battles against powerful villains and, eventually, comes out on top. The parallels between this book and the characters in "Oliver twist" are obvious just from the title, Charles Dickens even turns up as a supporting character. However this dodger is not just shrewd and resourceful, he's also a tough character to say the least.
"Dodger" is easy to read and difficult to put down. If you are a regular Pratchett reader you will enjoy this. If you have never read any of his books before, try this one. You might just find you're hooked.