Thomas wants to grant his grandfather’s last wishes – those which none of his family agreed to. Thus he finds himself in the dark of night, at his grandfather’s newly turned grave… to dig up his body and deliver him to help advances in medical science .
But he is not alone. He is watched, critiqued and finally assisted by a strange man, known as Plenitude.
Doug Macleod’s latest young adult novel is a black comedy set in England in 1828. It is filled with interesting and amusing characters. There is the mad gypsy who follows Thomas around to display her body of tattoos at the strangest moments. Mrs Timewell, Thomas’ mother, floats through the day on a cloud of laudnum, while haranguing their poor Scottish maid mercilessly. At school, Mr Atkins makes life miserable for his mathematics class, and especially for Charles, Thomas’ best friend, for whom he stand up against Mr Atkins.
By night, due to his reluctant involvement in more grave-robbing adventures, Thomas meets even more gruesome characters – none of whom he feels he can trust. He even comes to doubt the things that Plenitude shares with him – so he is always on the defensive, ready to spring from one misadventure, in this dark world, to the next.
Born a gentleman, with a potential for intelligence and quick thinking, Thomas navigates the daytime troubles of home-life with a befuddled mother, along with the nighttime adventures of macabre mysteries and back-stabbings. Thrown into this mix is an infatuation with a young girl, who is also not what she seems to be at first glance.
In a tale filled with meat cleavers, decapitated bodies, engulfing fires and visits by the Grim Reaper, Thomas survives. As the unlikely hero, he uncovers much of his family history, and at the same time, learns some intriguing information about medical sciences in this dark period of time.
‘The Life of a Teenage Body-snatcher‘ is also strangely funny at times – or is it a wicked sense of humour that the author has? You be the judge.
Nominated for the CBCA awards for Young Adult Readers this year (2011). What do you think?
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