read_warbler (read_warbler) wrote,

Diggers and The Good Thief

Two short reviews for today; I think I remember how to be concise. ;-) First up, Diggers by Terry Pratchett, part two of his YA Bromeliad trilogy.

The nomes are now living in the quarry. They've settled in nicely and things are going well but Masklin is not happy. He knows that the nomes do not belong here in the quarry or, for that matter, on this planet and can only see their situation as temporary. He and several others set off for the airport to try and intercept Grandson 39, the grandson of the founder of the store, who is flying to Florida. What happens while he's away is the story of the book. The nomes have discovered that the quarry is to be reopened and Masklin has told them to move to an old barn. But Nisodemus, a nome with much religious fervour, persuades the nomes to stay put. The nomes end up having to fight the humans for possession of the quarry. Luckily, Dorcas, an engineering whizz, has a secret weapon: Jekub.

This sequel to Truckers is just as much fun as that one was. Lots more excellent humour and sly digs at various types. I love the way the nomes take human writings so literally. Thus the founder of the store's 'grandson, Richard, 39' becomes Grandson 39, because they don't realise that 39 is his age. If I'm honest though, Pratchett is merely pointing out that maybe it's *us* that are the odd ones. And that's a theme that runs through all his books, be they Discworld novels or otherwise. Excellent - looking forward to the final part of this trilogy, Wings.


Next up, The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti.

Twelve year old, Ren, lives in an orphanage in New England sometime in the 19th. century. The orphanage is St. Anthony's and is run by monks. Ren was abandoned there as a baby and has no left hand; he's always wanted to solve the mystery of his parentage and what happened to his hand. One day a stranger arrives, one Benjamin Nab, and claims Ren as his brother. Thrilled, Ren leaves with him but it soon becomes apparent that not only is Ren not related at all to this stranger, Benjamin Nab is a thief and not to be trusted. Ren spends the winter with Nab and his accomplice, Tom, a drunken ex-teacher. They start to steal freshly dead bodies from the graveyard and, come the spring, the suggestion is that they travel to North Umbrage where there is a hospital and a certain doctor who pays well for bodies for his students to study on. Benjamin is violently against going to this particular town but is eventually persuaded. Once there events take a turn for the worse, if that's at all possible, but Ren realises that the secret of his origins may lie in this town and that Benjamin may know more than he lets on.

I wanted to love this YA historical, but ended up feeling a bit 'so-so' about it. The plot is pacey but I found it hard to feel any connection to the characters somehow. And there was hardly any real sense of the period in history or of place: it could have been anywhere, anytime. There were also things about it I found deeply unpleasant. I know people did some strange things in order to survive back then but even so... Add to that a sense while I was reading that things were just too bizarre and far-fetched to be true and you have a book that just didn't do it for me I'm afraid. A shame, because the potential was well and truly there.
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