Audiobook Review: Dodger by Terry Pratchett

Dodger by Terry PratchettTitle: Dodger
Author: Terry Pratchett
Narrator: Stephen Briggs
Publisher: HarperCollins
Running Time: 10 hours, 31 minutes
Source: Download from the Audiobook Sync program
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

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.

Beloved and bestselling author Sir Terry Pratchett combines high comedy with deep wisdom in this tale of an unexpected coming-of-age and one remarkable boy’s rise in a complex and fascinating world.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then you probably already know how I feel about Terry Pratchett. The man was hilarious and created such wonderful worlds in his writing. What I’m consistently struck by was how much his love for his writing shines through in his works. Dodger is a story about the a poor young man living in Victorian England written by a man who clearly loved writing about all the weirdness and darkness of Victorian England.

In a word, Dodger is simply: fun. There’s mystery, intrigue, drama, and humorous callouts to notable 19th century figures, both fictional and non-fictional. I loved the tie-in to Dickens and Sweeney Todd, and I especially enjoyed learning about Dodger’s world — a world that, I’m sure, was shared by many 19th century London dwellers. This book is plain entertainment, and I love Pratchett for that. The one and only complaint I have for this story is that I didn’t think the ending was paced perfectly, but it didn’t take away from my enjoyment very much, so it’s a small negative thing.

Stephen Briggs did such a good job with narrating this book. When I’m listening to a book, I’m — sadly — probably not paying as much attention as I should be, and I sometimes get lost in terms of who says or does what. Briggs makes it incredibly easy to distinguish between the characters, especially — it seems — paying attention to the social status of each character and letting that reflect in their accent and mode of speaking. Some of the minor characters were given a lot more life than just reading the book would have given them, and I really appreciated the listening experience.

Overall, I recommend Dodger if you have any interest at all for Terry Pratchett books, or if you enjoy a good Victorian England mystery. I had a lot of fun listening to it and think it’s well worth anyone’s time.

Book Review: M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman

m is for magic by neil gaiman.jpgTitle: M is for Magic
Author: Neil Gaiman
Publisher: HarperCollins
Hardcover: 260 pages
Source: Chicago OverDrive
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)

Stories to delight, enchant, and surprise you.
Bestselling author and master storyteller Neil Gaiman here presents a breathtaking collection of tales that may chill or amuse readers – but always embrace the unexpected. Collection includes:
“The Case of the Four and Twenty Blackbirds,”
“Troll Bridge,”
“Don’t Ask Jack,”
“How to Sell the Ponti Bridge,”
“October in the Chair,”
“Chivalry,”
“The Price,”
“How to Talk to Girls at Parties,”
“Sunbird,”
“The Witch’s Headstone,”
“Instructions”

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

As always, I needed a nice book of short stories to get me through the work day — I love that I can sit down, read one on my lunch break, and then move on with the rest of my day. As I’ve said before, the problem I have with short stories is that I don’t always like all of them, and it’s disappointing to spend my lunch reading something I didn’t very much enjoy. Fortunately, with Gaiman, I rarely have that problem, so when I saw this available on OverDrive, I jumped at the chance to check it out.

This collection is incredibly cohesive — the themes and tones of the stories balance each other nicely. It’s a delightfully weird collection that consistently surprised me with its twists and turns. “Troll Bridge” talks about the process of growing up and becoming an adult, and how what we value can change over time. “The Witch’s Headstone” is a lovely companion to The Graveyard Book, which I’ve also read. It shows the bravery and goodness of a small child, and how sometimes children can see through biases and do the right thing. “How to Talk to Girls at Parties” shows how difficult talking to girls can be — and how otherworldly the other sex seems when you’re a teenager and trying to figure out the dating thing.

Those are just a few of my favorite stories. I enjoyed all of them as a whole and recommend this if you’re fan of fantasy and Neil Gaiman.