Wednesday, August 25, 2010
THE LIFE OF A TEENAGE BODY-SNATCHER By Doug MacLeod. Camberwell, Penguin Australia, 2010.
The year is 1828. Any doctor who wants to be able to dissect corpses has to rely on the body-snatchers – or resurrectionists, as they call themselves.
Thomas Timewell, the “teenage body-snatcher” of the title, is busy digging up his grandfather, who had wanted to donate his body to science, but been denied, when he encounters his first resurrectionist, known to him only as Plenitude (the body-snatchers give themselves names based on positive nouns). Before he knows it, he is escaping Plenitude’s enemies, being chased by a tattooed woman, blackmailed, bashed over the head and being followed by the Grim Reaper.
Meanwhile, he has to deal with his mother’s laudanum habit, his mother’s friend’s wish to paint him in the nude and go along with his mother and her friends to hear the latest work by an incredibly awful novelist.
If you enjoy Richard Harland’s steampunk tales, you’ll probably like this over-the-top black comedy, which is carefully written in the style of the time in which it is set. It has elements of melodrama, quite deliberate. If you’re giving it to a teenager, it’s intended for teens from about fifteen upwards. Slightly younger readers might also enjoy it, but they will have to be very good readers to pick up all the jokes.
The novel is great fun, so if you just want to read it for your own pleasure, why not? Let the kids get their own copies!