peta (peta_andersen) wrote,

Reading: Dingo, by Charles de Lint

High school senior Miguel’s life is turned upside down when he meets new girl Lainey, whose family has just moved from Australia. With her tumbled red-gold hair, her instant understanding of who he is, and her unusual dog—a real Australian dingo—she’s unforgettable. And, as he quickly learns, she is on the run from an ancient 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, set close to his beloved, invented city of Newford—a mixture of darkness and hope, humor and mystery, and the friendship within love.

The cover of Dingo immediately caught my eye - the title was arresting (many Americans are completely unaware of the dingo, so hearing/seeing the word is rare), and the colours were bright without being garish. So I added the book to my already overflowing arms, paid, and carted it home, where it sat on the shelf for a month (my reading list is long, my time is short, and pregnancy-induced migraines are making life difficult). This weekend, I picked it up.

And was surprised.

Now, I read the inside jacket when I bought the book - I always read the synopsis, the author biography, and anything else that looks vaguely informative before taking a book home - but I forgot the exact details somewhere between buying and reading. So, thanks to the the cover, I spent the first few pages thinking I was reading a teen girl's voice.

From the first page of chapter one:

No one lies to think it of their father, but there are days when I can't help but feel that somehow I got stuck with the biggest loser of all loser dads. It's mostly on days like this when he's off on a house call to buy new stock and I'm stuck minding the store.

MIKE'S USED COMICS AND RECORDS, the sign says above the door in paint that's chipped and starting to fade.

Okay, so he's not a deadbeat, because ever since Mom died, he's always made sure we had food on the table and a roof over our heads. And some kids might think it was cool to have a dad so into comics and music. But try living with it, day in and day out. It's Superman this, and Spider-Man that, and wow, a Grateful Dead boot with a version of some song that they only ever played live one or two times and never recorded officially.

It was another two paragraphs, when the narrator begins to talk about hand-me-down clothes, before I realised I was reading a teen boy's voice.

So, what do you think?
  • How does a book's cover affect our perception of the main character?
  • Do you find the excerpt above leans toward the voice of a particular gender? Is it ambiguous?
  • Do the mentions of comics and superheroes tip your perception of voice either way?
Tags: charles de lint, dingo, fantasy, review, urban fantasy, ya

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