Dodger by Terry Pratchett, 2/5
This book was an unpleasant surprise from one of my favourite authors. Firstly (and, to be fair, Sir Terry Pratchett can hardly be blamed for this), I was wrongly anticipating a Discworld story. Discovering the long-awaited novel to be an isolated work of historical fantasy was depressing on two fronts, given that I have historically (and sometimes, hysterically) disliked the historical fiction genre. It is a rare author who can weave figures from the past into an original story naturally, without having them come across as prefabricated, connotation-burdened crutches.
In most respects, Dodger is the opposite of what I have come to expect from reading dozens of Pratchett novels. Usually, Pratchett’s stories have multiple, complicated plot lines but this effort has only one very thin, predictable one. Usually, the characters are surprising and unique but Dodger’s are relentlessly cliched (including racial stereotyping). Usually, Pratchett is hilarious and satirical but this book is not very witty and provides only a minimum of social commentary on Victorian London. I also noticed that Pratchett employs an uncharacteristically limited vocabulary, constantly re-using the same words, phrases and ideas. It is this last point that makes it seem that Dodger’s intended audience is slightly thick young adults, but it contains so many innuendos and mature themes that I couldn’t recommend it to my teenage sister.
Sadly, I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone, not even a Pratchett fan. In fact, especially not a Pratchett fan, since it is so very disappointing in the context of his other, much better, books.