Review: Dogsbody, Diana Wynne Jones

There are only a very few books by Diana Wynne Jones that I don’t own, and here they are and this is why:

1. The Time of the Ghost.  Written in 1981, right before Diana Wynne Jones went on her crazy winning streak made out of amazing brilliance and win, between 1981 and 1986, this is my very least by a lot favorite of Diana Wynne Jones’s books.  I have read it over and over, and I have never managed to like it.

2. A Tale of Time City.  Because I have only started liking it recently, and I have not definitely settled down to Like It from Dislike It.

3. Eight Days of Luke.  I.e., the book that apparently gave Neil Gaiman the germ of the idea for American Gods – it’s out of print and difficult to obtain, and I have not yet used it enough times to love it enough to take the time to bother finding it used.  I should really check it out of the library again.

4. Dogsbody.  No idea why.

Dogsbody is great.  See, the being that establishes Sirius, the Dog Star, is convicted of having killed another luminary with his Zoi, an immensely powerful object that has now fallen to Earth and been lost.  As punishment, he is placed in the body of a dog on Earth.  If, during his dog life span, he can retrieve the Zoi, he will be reinstated; if not, he will die as a dog.

Really I just don’t know why I don’t own it.  I own the entire Dalemark Quartet, which I like significantly less than Dogsbody (or Luke or even maybe Time City, now that I think about it.)  Dogsbody, it’s fun and interesting, and it’s from the perspective of a dog without being cutesy.  As a dog, Sirius cannot access his full luminary self – he wants to run around and sniff things and be a dog, and he has to fight these impulses and focus fiercely on locating the Zoi, the exact nature of which he struggles to remember.  Where has it fallen, and who has it now?  And if Sirius did not kill the luminary, then who did?

Also, Diana Wynne Jones?  Not afraid of a bittersweet ending!  Hello, Homeward Bounders?  And while I’m on the subject, you are probably wondering what I was talking about before, when I said the thing about Diana Wynne Jones and her insane winning streak.  Between 1981 and 1986, Diana Wynne Jones wrote all of my very favorites of her books.  She wrote The Homeward Bounders, Archer’s Goon, Witch Week, Fire and Hemlock, and Howl’s Moving Castle.  All between 1981 and 1986.  Yummy.

P.S. Nymeth and words by Annie also liked Dogsbody.  I bet you would too!

17 thoughts on “Review: Dogsbody, Diana Wynne Jones

  1. I think I have a handful of DWJ books that I don’t own. I still own a lot more of them unread, hahaha, but Dogsbody actually is one of the few I have and read and loved though a lot less because I fell into the Chrestomanci series as well as Howl and well, Sirius never had the chance after that 🙂

    Let’s see if I have Homeward Bounders from my DWJ pile. I do know that I’ve seen Eight Days of Luke in our local bookstores (Philippines) but it’s marked down considerably because they’re a bit old. That and Year of the Ghost. I think I own both. Hahaha! And some others. The Dalemark Quartet here was sold on a bargain. I got the second and the third book from one branch. The other two from another. Lucky me!

    • I’m envious of the Eight Days of Luke – next time I check it out of the library, I’ll probably at least put out feelers about buying it at last. And maybe I will give Time of the Ghost another try – I have ended up loving or at least quite liking every one of DWJ’s books but that one, and I can’t believe Time of the Ghost is really not that good.

      What else haven’t you read yet? Tell me and I will exclaim about it and bossily tell you what to read next. 😛

  2. I love Archer’s Goon and Howl’s Moving Castle. They are the most complicated and confusing books EVER for YA and yet they’re magnificent with it. There’s a load of her works I haven’t read, but I did read Fire and Hemlock recently and loved that, too.

    • Fire and Hemlock is my favorite by a good margin, though that may be (I confess) because I think it’s so cool how Tom sends Polly books and books and books. I do particularly like that thing Diana Wynne Jones does of having her characters realize they are not as [insert quality here] as they thought they were, when they take a moment and look at themselves with more objectivity. She is utterly one of my favorite authors.

    • I love it when people ask me what to read. 😛 I would say, Howl’s Moving Castle is a good starting place – fairy-tale feel to it, excellent characters, and a castle – or Charmed Life is also a very, very good one of hers. Or if you don’t mind slightly more technical magic, Deep Secret is one that I return to over and over, and it’s great. It takes place at a fantasy/sci-fi convention! Also, if at first you do not get on with her books, I recommend you persist. There are only a couple of her books I have liked upon reading them the first time. All the others had to grow on me, and many of them are now among my most favorite books ever.

    • Oh hooray! Thank you! I just shot you an email. 🙂 Another thing I like about Dogsbody is that the humans are interesting too, and not just for the way that they relate to Sirius. It’s an interesting and I think quite well-done family dynamic, especially when you consider it’s not the main focus of the book.

  3. I love Dogsbody! And Fire & Hemlock is also one of my very favorite YA books, because of the books Tom sends Polly. Once I made a list of what he sends her and read straight through it. Totally worth it!

  4. Jen, I have two copies of Dogsbody up here, want one when I come home?

    Also, did you get a copy of Hexwood? Cause I thought you didn’t but it’s not on your list.

  5. I have THREE copies of Dogsbody — but there is method to my madness. One is my old paperback copy from childhood, now falling apart; one is a nice hc edition — and (wait for it) one is signed by DWJ!!! How cool is that???

    Now if I could only get a signed copy of Howl’s Moving Castle. . . I can dream.

  6. Haha. Nice to know that someone shares my same opinion.
    My favorite Diana Wynne Jones book (not including the Chrestomanci Series) : The Homeward Bounders.
    Least favorite: Dogsbody (for obvious reasons)

  7. Pingback: Book: Dogsbody | taking a break

  8. Pingback: REVIEW: Dogsbody by Diana Wynne Jones » Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog

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