Oliver Twisted by J D Sharpe and Charles Dickens
|Oliver Twisted by J D Sharpe and Charles Dickens
|Reviewer: Robert James
|Summary: Throwing a mixture of supernatural nasties into a Charles Dickens novel has interesting results. Dickens fans will get a laugh from the clever adaptation while teens will enjoy the gory action.
|Date: February 2012
|Publisher: Electric Monkey
A small boy, Oliver, is brought up in a workhouse before being sent to work for an undertaker. Running away from the cruel undertaker and his wife, he finds himself in London, where he falls in with a disreputable old rogue called Fagin and his gang of thieves. Think you know the story? Think again - and add soul stealers, werewolves, and magic...
This is billed as being written by JD Sharpe and Charles Dickens, and with good reason - there's some passages which are taken directly from the original, with the supernatural bits written around them. It's an intriguing way of rewriting the classic story, and I found it really enjoyable to recognise the extracts and see what Sharpe had written before or after them to change their context to fit this one. That said, that's one pleasure when reading it which will appeal to adult fans of Dickens but is likely to go over the heads of most of the target audience of young teens.
Luckily, then, there's a fair amount to entertain that target audience. The characters are memorable even for those who don't recognise the originals - I particularly liked Dodge, whose nickname takes on a whole new meaning with his abilities in this book, and Mr Brownlow, rather more of a man of action that he was in the classic tale. The action definitely comes thick and fast, with woe-begottens, vampyres, secret societies fighting for both good and evil all featuring heavily.
It's also enjoyably unpredictable, with the reader finding out early on that Oliver is capable of supreme goodness or the most foul wickedness, and his destiny hanging in the balance throughout the book. I was intrigued to see just how far Sharpe would deviate from the original as we got towards the end of the novel - and I'll leave you to find that out for yourself. Final piece of praise (which perhaps should have come at the start, thinking about it) goes to the tagline Please sir. I want some GORE. which may be the most inspired quote of the year so far in children's books.
Overall, recommended for teens looking for an enjoyably grisly tale.
Darren Shan and Rick Yancey both excel at this type of novel. Birth of a Killer (The Saga of Larten Crepsley) by Darren Shan and The Monstrumologist: The Terror Beneath by Rick Yancey are appropriate introductions to the two masters.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Oliver Twisted by J D Sharpe and Charles Dickens at Amazon.com.
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