Review: D: A Tale of Two Worlds

D (A Tale of Two Worlds): A Novel is a 2020 young adult literature book by writer Michel Faber. It is a pretty straight forward story. One ordinary morning all the “D”s in the world start disappearing. Out of nowhere they have disappeared from signage, texts, and even speech. Dogs become ogs, dolphins become olphines, drives become rives, and so on and so forth. Eventually the very things the words describe and name begin to disappear as well. As ridiculous as the notion is, more disturbing is how no one seems to notice or care about this abrupt change to the world. No one except a young girl by the name of Dhikilo. She alone notices, and very much care about, this disappearance. Her concerns and worries lead her to the funeral of her beloved history teacher, Professor Dodderfield. Attendance to his funeral leads her to his home and the discovery that he is still very much alive and aware, like she, of the theft of the letter “D” for they have indeed been stolen, and Dhikilo is the only one who can put a stop to the tragedy of the missing “D.”

From there we get the expected trajectory, Dhikilo is tasked with a mission to save the world. Her wise, old mentor, Professor Dodderfield, gifts her with supplies and a faithful Sphinx companion, Nelly Robinson, who can shapeshift. She embarks on her adventure to the wintry land of Liminus through a secret portal and finds danger, battle, magic, and near death in her quest to find and rescue the “D”s from the villainous Gamp, the dictator who has enraptured and enslaved the many populaces of the land, and his equally evil and corrupt allies. Dhikilo, while on her journey, outsmarts would be cannibals, evil houses, befriends magical creatures, and ultimately does manage to undo the great evils the sinister Gamp has done.

Now, the actual novel is not bad by any means. There is a complete story. The character of Dhikilo is given plenty of backstory and has some interesting traits. The premise is odd and engaging. The issue is simply the execution. Perhaps, it is because of the intended audience, but the story and writing is very, very simply. As in it is so easy and quick to read, it almost becomes boring. The description is fair and fine but not quite captivating or noteworthy. I am not sure if I would have actually finished the book had it not been such a fast read. As well, for how much time is spent giving Dhikilo her backstory, not much of it really matters. Sure, it gives an excuse as to why she was away for so long, but it doesn’t really do much beyond that. And considering the social and political implications of her origins, it is just odd that it did not truly matter. On top of that, her involvement in solving the crisis is tenuous at best. She does not really do much to create the downfall of the Gamp or his machinations. In fact, there is some aspect that makes it seem pure and utter chance. Almost as though, anyone could have done the same.

Overall, while the premise is intriguing and the writing allows for expediency, there is not much more that D (A Tale of Two Worlds): A Novel has to offer.

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