Sunday, November 9, 2014

Book Review: Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens

Oliver TwistOliver Twist by Charles Dickens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens

Synopsis: One of Dickens’s most popular novels, Oliver Twist is the story of a young orphan who dares to say, “Please sir, I want some more.” After escaping from the dark and dismal workhouse where he was born, Oliver finds himself on the mean streets of Victorian-era London and is unwillingly recruited into a scabrous gang of scheming urchins. In this band of petty thieves Oliver encounters the extraordinary and vibrant characters who have captured readers’ imaginations for more than 150 years: the loathsome Fagin, the beautiful and tragic Nancy, the crafty Artful Dodger, and perhaps one of the greatest villains of all time—the terrifying Bill Sikes.
In A Sentence: There’s a reason why this is considered a classic

My Thoughts: I’ve had this on my TBR for ages. Back in his middle school years (when he still could sing soprano), my little brother played Oliver in his school’s production of the musical. During that time we went through an Oliver Twist phase where we watched multiple film renditions of the famous story. I had also just finished reading A Tale Of Two Cities for high school, so I figured I should put Oliver Twist on my list, because Dickens is such a good author. I decided I would wait on reading it though, because I kept falling asleep while reading ATOTC and I just didn’t have the patience to do that again.
Well, I finally read this, and once again, I kept dozing off while reading the book. This is not a point against the book, however. Dickens writes really well (this is why he’s famous). It’s just that his writing hypnotizes me to the point where I start dozing off….and then I start dreaming about little orphans with sad eyes who say “Please sir, I want some more”. 
It just goes to show how famous this book is; everyone knows that line, whether they’ve read the book or not. This story is a classic, and for good reason. It’s beautiful, sweet, sad, horrifying, and just wonderful all at once. Dickens writes in such a way that you can vividly picture the scene in your head. As with all classics, I couldn’t read it quickly, but I loved the journey it took me on, of how a boy chose to remain good through all his hardships, and was eventually rewarded for it.
The book isn’t flawless, however. My biggest problem with the novel is the prejudice that resides in the book. One of the main villains, Fagin, is a Jew, and throughout the novel you get the impression that being a Jew means you are sneaky and villainous. I’m not Jewish, but it is a shame that you see such a negative connotation placed upon a religious group. You see these types of prejudices crop up in all classic literature, however, and if you can see past the slur and visualize Fagin as a corrupted individual, it’s not quite as bothersome.
Overall, this is a worthy read. Despite the author’s flaws, his works deserve to be ranked among some of the best literature of all time. Highly recommended to lovers of the classic and anyone who would like a heartwarming story about a boy who overcomes all odds.

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