Tamora Pierce is one of my all time favorite young adult writers. She always seems to write characters that speak to me in a way no other writer in thTamora Pierce is one of my all time favorite young adult writers. She always seems to write characters that speak to me in a way no other writer in that genre can. So I jumped at this new series, set in her well-built world of Tortall, without knowing much about it.
One sentence recap: Beka Cooper is training to be Dog (aka cop) in the slums of the capitol city, she uses her journal to chronicle the ways she uses her friends, common sense and magical gifts to stop crimes most people don’t care about.
I loved this book. Like so many of Pierce’s characters, Beka is a strong and determined and just quirky enough to be real. She captured my attention from the first page and I rooted for her all the way. The secondary characters were wonderfully fleshed out, if a little cliché. Still, I loved the interplay of Beka living in a house full of criminals. It really bought the moral ambiguity into the spotlight, which I think was the ‘lesson’ of this story (Pierce always has a moral or lesson, always). Life as a Dog is not black and white. Bribes are ok, letting some criminals go is ok. At the end, a murder even goes unpunished. I think this kind of stuff is great for teens, showing them that life is not always just and right. Sometimes you have to pick the less objectionable option, instead of the ‘right’ choice. Tortall is a great setting and it was great to see a different side of it in this book. Normally, all we see is castles and nobles; here, we got the filthy slums and back alleys that hold the poor and working people. It was eye-opening and fun. The plot, meanwhile, had some definite holes and sometimes the story took a weird turn, but in the end, everything was wrapped up, shiny and pretty, just like so many other Pierce stories. It’s why I read them, for the happy endings and loveable characters. Not for deep, intricately plotted stories. I got exactly what I wanted from it, which is not a small thing by any means. ...more