Dory's Avengers Hardcover – Aug 22 2013
No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Set in an alternate version of the UK, William St Benedict is the dictatorial head of 'The Sponsors', whose members enjoy the privileges and prestige afforded to the elite. Those individuals who choose not to be sponsored become the underclass; allowed to carry out only menial work, living on the fringes of this new society.
In the Cumbrian village of Applethwaite the son of one of the founding members of the scheme becomes the focal point of opposition to the new order, embarking on a dangerous quest to challenge the status quo.
Dory's Avengers is a highly original piece of work. The characters are sharply defined, the plot engrossing and unpredictable. The story is woven so closely into recent events, such as the London Olympics,that at times the lines between fact and fiction become a little blurred. This is to Alison Jack's credit, and shows just how plausible is this dark mirror image of our society that she has created.
In short Dory's Avengers is an intelligent, thought provoking, cautionary tale from a talented author.
It's a mammoth of a book and it took me a while to get through it, although I'm not really sure why. It is certainly an adult novel and I guess I wanted to make sure I absolutely understood all the political and sociological implication of the world this is set in.
At the forefront of the book is albino teenager and gymnast, Louis. A loveable and heart-warming character that is readable too. Dory is kept locked up by his abusive father, who just so happens to be the creator of the Sponsorship Scheme - a very powerful man indeed, and Louis makes sure that freeing his childhood friend is the priority.
And yet it is the characterisation and chemistry among the Unsponsored that captures your heart in this original novel. An eclectic bunch that can appeal to any type of reader: an albino teenager, a naive journalist, a gay couple who run the local pub, an absent father, a manic-depressive mother ... the list goes on. I particularly loved Gideon, Louis's gymnast teacher who curses and shouts colloquialisms left, right and centre, which is just what is needed among the often formal Louis and Sarah and Lysander.
Alison Jack does a wonderful job at creating such a powerful cause within the story and her faultless voice and writing will have you laughing aloud, spitting at the sometimes graphic violent abuse of Dory and even clenching your fists and punching the air in delight as you rally behind the Avengers group you feel very much a part of. Sometimes it struggles with pace, but Dory's Avengers is an intelligent, moving and satisfying novel. A great début from a writer that we'll see more of I have no doubt.
The cast of the story is enormous, and mostly related to each other in some way, across the Sponsored/Unsponsored divide. While there is a certain black-and-whiteness about them, in that they are either Sponsored or not, there is some crossing over that goes on to provide character development, and all of the characters are interesting and the good guys at least are very likeable and very easy to root for.
Another interesting aspect of the story is that although it's about a scheme affecting the whole country (though it hasn't been emulated abroad), the conflicts take place between members of families who are split on either side of the divide. That makes it a much more personal and engaging story. I particularly liked Louis, the gifted (Unsponsored) gymnast and his trainer Gideon, who together strive to train Louis for greatness. I also liked the unifying Olympic theme, in which it's clear that sport is the winner rather than individuals or nations, and this is a neat parallel to the story of social division.
The action is set mainly in two places - the fictitious village of Applethwaite in the Lake District and central London. There is a good sense of place and contrast between the two. The places become symbolic for the two opposing forces of good and evil, respectively.
To me, more used to reading books of 200-300 pages since leaving my studies of the classics behind, this felt like a very long book (maybe more so because I was reading the heavy hardback rather than on my Kindle), and I suppose that is one reason why it's priced quite high (£18 for the hardback and £5.49 for the ebook at the time of writing this review). It would be a shame if the price limits is discovery by other readers.
Disclosure: I was given a complimentary copy of the hardback by the author who I first met when she came to hear me speak at the Cambridge Literary Festival. I have since used her editing service, but that business relationship does not affect my reading habits or my review of this book.
Imagine a place where your choices are few and your freedoms limited by a corporation. A company that makes sure that if you don’t become a sponsor, it won’t bode well for you. The setting is London, England. The company is run by William St. Benedict who has come up with the Sponsorship Scheme. One that people are flocking to be a part off. It makes him and his company millions as people far and wide flock to his presence. It doesn’t hurt he is a charming man.
What people don’t know is upstairs hidden away is his son Theo who is being beaten excessively for defying the scheme. Those who don’t join up are considered second class citizens who get to do the work that the upper-class people don’t do.
But there is discontentment with those who refuse to bow down and get sponsored. And the numbers are growing. Especially in the village of Applethwaite which is home to one of the member of the Sponsor’s scheme. It is a quiet place and they are pretty much left alone until one day Theo makes contact with his best friend who lives in this village. H doesn’t use a computer, telephone, text or letter. He mentally sends out thoughts in hopes his friend will hear and understand.
What happens next is Applethwaite residents plotting to break Theo out and take down the scheme bit by bit until every one is free from sponsorship.
I enjoyed this book very much. It kept my interest. The characters were many, but I didn’t need to list them down to keep track off, so that was big for me. The description was well done. There is a bit of cursing in this book. The two main characters, Theo and Louis, while I liked a lot in the beginning, they started to irk me near the end. But not every character is mean to be liked throughout, regardless if they are a major or minor player. I bonded with some of the characters.
This book center on two men, Louis and Theodore aka Dory, once childhood friends and now one is confined by his genetics and the other by his evil father. Set in present time, but considerable a different UK than what we know, we are given insight to the ways of the Sponsorship and those that refuse to be conformed to it.
The book is written well, if not sometimes too well. There is a bit of repetitiveness in the beginning which may turn a potential reader off to it that has not been forewarned. Sponsorship this, sponsorship that, but in a ways it’s to get the point across just how much the Sponsorship has changed the world we knew and made it into something that serves a few but isn’t seen as such.
Dory manages to get through to Louis that he needs help; in turn we have Dory’s Avengers. A group that has had enough and will do what they can to help. A sight from the past that beyond all odds comes to fruition in the future. Mixed in with the Olympic Games, the unsponsored put up a fight and the ending is known upon you reading this book.
As I stated before, this book is well written. You will find yourself digging in and going for the long haul to not miss a beat in the story. You will find yourself cheering, jeering, and being flustered along with the characters and the story. I recommend this to anyone 16+ who enjoys a good thriller.