Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Rise And Fall Of D.O.D.O. -- Not a book for the undereducated.

This is perhaps the most unusual book I have read in quite some time. 
The idea is simple enough: the magic of witches ceased with the advent of modern technology, and the US government wants it back -- for its own ends. At first a small operation is set up, but once a witch is found, the department (DODO) becomes very large -- and eventually is forcibly reminded that witches are unreliable and unpredictable.  A good deal of time travel is involved.
Interested?  Well, hang on there a moment; this is not YA or event Chick-Lit.  Nope.  This is not particularly a novel for grown-ups as much as it is a novel for the intelligent and well-educated.  In other words, I know some people who could've read this and loved it at age 12, but I'm pretty sure most people ought to pass this one by.
To get the humor and subtlety of this novel, I suggest that the reader should have the following:
1) a basic understanding of physics
2) some knowledge of coding and basic computer science
3) a good background in European history, the politics of Elizabethan England, early American colonization, piracy, the vikings, and the Crusades.
4) had at least a basic course in linguistics (understanding of language trees) and preferably a working knowledge of at least one language besides English.
5) a good familiarity with Shakespeare and his most famous plays, as well as his contemporaries and their works.
6) a decent familiarity with Beowulf and the writing style employed by the poets of Old English -- and the great literary faker James MacPherson (author of Ossian's poetry)
7) slogged through James Joyce's Ulysses at least once.
8) read enough books by Jane Austen, Sir Walter Scott,  and Charles Dickens to have a familiarity with the style and syntax used.

In other words, this book is dense reading, but for the bright and educated, it's hilarious and delightful.
It's not like Harry Potter, the classic "crossover" series which can be read on multiple levels (i.e. one can understand Rowling's plot without understanding her cleverness with Latin and numerous literary and historical allusions).  Not at all.  For DODO, the reader MUST have an IQ above room temperature, the ability to read for a sustained amount of time on a post-high school level, and the equivalent of an undergrad education.
I loved this thing.  The ending leaves room for a sequel; I hope there will be one. :D