Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Dingo

Dingo
Written by: Charles de Lint
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Firebird/Penguin
Language: English
March 2008, $11.99
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

“Ever have one of those moments when everything just kind of stops and it feels as though the whole universe is focused on this one thing that’s got your attention? That’s what it’s like when I see her.”

High school senior Miguel’s life is turned upside down when he meets Lainey, whose family has moved from Australia to a lakeside beach town outside of Newford. With her tumbled red-gold hair, her instant understanding of who he is, and her unusual dog, she’s unforgettable. And as he quickly learns, she is on the run from a bargain made by her ancestors. There’s no question that Miguel will do whatever he can to help her – but what price will each of them have to pay?

Dingo is quintessential Charles de Lint – a mixture of darkness and hope, humor and mystery, and the friendship within love.


+++++++++++++

I have been in love with the Urban Fantasy since Charles de Lint and Emma Bull began to spin their tales. It was different than high fantasy which I could never really get into. It was my world, but different. It had everything I ever wanted: magic, faeries, monsters and more. It has been a while since I have read anything from the Newford Stories but I was drawn to the beautiful cover illustrated by Scott Fischer. It is gorgeous. I figured I would be getting the Blue Girl ala Australian mythology.

The story is typical of De Lint. Our lead meets someone with strange qualities and then gets sucked into a world he/she never knew existed and then they fight to come to terms with this new reality or to escape from this foreign world. Miguel works at his father’s vintage vinyl and comic store. It’s a fairly mundane existence until a beautiful redhead his age walks in with her odd dog. Lainey is from Australia and her dog, Em, is a dingo. The two hit it off immediately, though Em is less than enthused about the pairing. But strange things begin to happen. First when he meets Lainey on the beach she all but ignores him, then there are the large paw prints on his windowsill and dreams Miguel cannot explain. Is Lainey worth all of the risk?

Things I loved: I have grown used to American folklore when it comes to De Lint so Australian lore was a nice change of pace, and dingoes are pretty darn cute, I should know I had to look them up so I could see something other than Meryl Streep screaming dingoes ate my baby. And while this is light fare, perhaps because it is young adult or maybe because it is more like a novella than a full length novel, but I didn’t mind that. I like the dynamic between Miguel and his father, a former biker hard core guy that just happens to love music and comics enough to open a store. Miguel’s father knows about appearances and mistakes and what it means to grow into your own.

I also like the dynamic between Johnny and Miguel though at times Johnny upheld that stereotypical, want to hit him with a brick thug. So he has a sucky childhood it does not give him an excuse and sometimes his character fell flat. Yet other times I really liked to see that there was more to him than I thought. Em and Lainey aren’t as fully fleshed out, but I don’t think the story was ever about them, not really. Kind of the way the Sixth Sense was never about ghosts (sorry on tele a couple of nights ago).

While I don’t know anything really about Australian folklore, I wouldn’t mind if De Lint branches out and perhaps go into more depth with something else. And it made me curious enough that I spent a good deal looking up Australian mythos when I was done so that says something doesn’t it?

Things I didn't love so much: The dialogue is a bit of a miss. Most of the characters sounded the same, none of them really having a distinct voice and that was frustrating at times. It wasn’t horrible dialogue but each character kind of sounded the same and not achingly authentic. It was one of those moments where the author is trying to sound like a teenager, but it would be like my dad trying to sound like a teenager. It just doesn’t quite work.

I have been a Charles de Lint fan for many years and while this is not my favorite, I enjoyed it. I do think that I never really fully engaged with anything whether it was the characters or the plot. This is not to say that it was bad, but it was over far too quickly for me to get hooked and the story moves along quick enough that maybe that is a problem as well. But I do think that others would enjoy it. I imagine if I was a young teen, tween…I would like it. At least it would make me curious and I would want to read more. As an adult though I am glad it wasn’t my first taste of De Lint.

Buy or Borrow: Borrow. As I said it wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t amazing and I am not sure if it will be a keeper for me. I would much rather perhaps give it to my niece and see if she digs it.

Part of: Stand Alone story, but could probably be put with the Newford Stories

Also Recommended: The Blue Girl or the Newford Stories also by De Lint, or anything by Emma Bull.

2.75 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks

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