Strangely enough, it always takes me a while to get into Pratchett’s books for younger readers. They appear more sombre and the message seems to be hammered into the reader’s mind from the onset. I don’t like being lectured and I struggle to see past the didactic purposes and actually enjoy a story as it unfolds.
That being said, the novel is populated with some fascinating protagonists and the characterisation is as great as usual. I think I loved Solomon most of all. Charlie Dickens not so much, but that might have less to do with Pratchett’s depicting him as an upper-class snob than with my lack of appreciation for the actual Dicken’s oeuvre. Dodger is a likeable hero, someone who uses his street smarts and survival skills for the benefit of those less lucky and resilient than himself. He might be calle a little dim at times, but he tries to remedy his lack of education at every opportunity he gets and we see that he would have to be considered a genius if upbringing had placed him on another rung of the social ladder. But he’ll get there…
There was quite a bit of name dropping and I had been hoping for an appearance, however brief, of “young Karl” until the very end.
This will not make it to the top of my list of books to re-read time an again, but it will most certainly make it on my list of gifts for younger readers.