Beka Cooper: Terrier

Tamora Pierce is the author of a number of best selling fantasy series for young adults. Despite this fact, I must admit that I was completely unfamiliar with her when I first picked up Beka Cooper. Of course, we all must have our first introduction, and so this was mine.

Beka lives in a fantasy world of Tamora Pierce’s creation. It’s a world of multiple nations, ethnicities, and languages. Beka grew up in the slums of Corinth with her mother and siblings. Using her mysterious talents for hearing the dead and dogged determination (completely intentional, as you will see), she gets the attention of My Lord Provost of the city guard. He welcomes Beka and her family to his home, and helps raise them to future professions. Beka becomes a messenger for the city guard, commonly known as “dogs,” and upon coming of age begins her training with the night watch. Beka’s training becomes more complicated as a serial kidnapper and killer takes children and murders them unless their families pay dearly. To make Beka’s life more complicated, new criminals have moved in- next door to Beka.

I’d like to start my review by saying that this book completely won me over. I love the characters. I love the idea. Tamora Pierce unravels her stories well, developing loveable but multidimensional characters. It was difficult to decide exactly what to place in the synopsis. The characters are fun to read and fun to discuss, but I don’t want to ruin it for you.

Since I made a big deal about purpose in the last post, I should discuss that here.  Beka Cooper is a very entertaining story with fun characters and an involving plot- very successful escapeism. What I love even more, however, is the way that Beka and other characters negotiate important issues.  This makes Beka Cooper not only a great entertainment piece, but also a successful exploration of social and interpersonal issues. Though set in a backdrop of completely fictional time and place, Beka’s core issues are true to life. Adults can read and enjoy her negotiation of her problems, and younger readers can also relate to Beka. As a strong proponent of bibliotherapy and learning through reading, Beka Cooper intertwines helpful concepts in a fantastic story with vivid characters.

Just to name a few:

My favourite is probably the notion of recovering from mistakes. It ruins nothing to tell you that Beka is destined to be one of the greatest dogs in history, as we are told in the very beginning of the story. However, the story shows her learning, and when she makes a mistake, sha makes big ones- some of them very humiliating. It’s hard to recover from humiliation, but Beka learns and moves on.

Throughout the book, Beka also expresses in her journal common curiosities and insecurities that most girls her age have, covering every topic from body image and changes to growing up to be herself.

On that subject, Beka navigates the challenge of being herself and following her dreams, even though the conflict with the opinions of others. My lady does not approve of Beka’s choice to be a dog, and neither do her sisters, who have jobs in the household. Beka faces scathing comments and separation from her sisters as she moves into her chosen profession.

By going through each challenge, Beka slowly learns to trust herself and her newly acquired skills to be the best dog she can. She learns to balance conflicting frienships and alliances in a confusing and corrupt system. Navigating this system and learning to “play the game” without losing sight of herself is one of her biggest accomplishments, and indeed one of the most difficult.

I highly recommend Beka Cooper: Inkling Recommended.  Beka is written true to her age, and is age-appropriate for children around her age (pre/early adolescence) through adult.

Beka ranks high on humor, engaging characters, and is rather quotable. The plot unravels slowly, weaving in different characters, motivations, and subplots,  and has enough twists to keep things interesting.

Beka Cooper is available at most large bookstores, as well as online, such as Amazon. It is also available on a well-read audiobook.

As a final note, all blogs, tweets, and FaceBook updates today with the following will contribute 1 cent to cancer research.  #beatcancer  So, blog it, tweet it, update it!

Keeping with Beka, her next adventure, Bloodhound is up for review next. See you then!


Quoted Brilliance

Hello all! I received this in an email from a good friend of mine, and thought it was brilliant. I am going to see if I can add this blog to my blog roll, in case anyone wants to see a persistent link. In the meantime, here is a great entry for anyone who is a friend of a writer (or a writer themselves). If you write or have a writer in your life, you can probably relate to this. I know I can. So, Happy Friday and enjoy.

Don’t worry, my next review is coming soon. I promise. Midterms, you see.