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Viaduct Child

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

Cover of Viaduct Child

Author: Patrick Wood

Publisher: Scholastic

Published in: 2002

Age Range: Young Teens+

Period: Contemporary

Setting: London

Genres:  Coping withSciFi


Characters:

  • Dushma A teenage girl who has not been registered, she cannot go to school or work. She becomes a free spirit always wandering the streets of London.
  • Aunt Megan looks after Dushma and feels frustrated by the girl's lack of gratitude towards her.
  • Susskin rescues Dushma when she is on the run from the authorities and takes her to a disused underground station. Susskin is naturally distrusting as he too is on the run.
  • Beltrowser lives at the underground station with Susskin and is by far the more trusting of the two, although very clever, he was denied the advanced education his intelligence merited on account of a heart defect which reduced his chances of living long enough to be useful to society.

Synopsis:

Dushma lives in a society where being registered is everything, she is not registered with the authorities due to a defect during pregnancy and so she is not entitled to do anything. She cannot go to school or work and by the laws of the society in which she lives she should be in the workhouse. However she is hidden away in her aunt Megan's flat in the railway viaduct in which she lives.

With a lot of spare time on her hands Dushma roams the streets of London quickly learning her way around the backways and alleys of London as well as haunting the monstrous and outlandish St Gotha's cathedral. Dushma soon becomes a drain on Aunt Megan's resources. She wants Dushma to earn her own keep on the streets, an argument between the two of them which is never resolved.

When their flat is raided by the police, Dushma escapes, but she still can't go anywhere and live a normal life because he still isn't registered. She is an outlaw. However by chance she is rescued by Susskin and whisked off to the unfortunately named Hitler Street Station which has been put out of use and forgotten about for obvious reasons. At Hitler Street she meets Ibmajuj and Beltrowser, both fellow outlaws.

Notes:

The book was fairly interesting up to a point, the author created suspense well early on by leaving the story of St Gotha until later on in the book and also by leaving the question of why Dushma is not registered. However the story needed a little more development and the book would have been more interesting if certain characters, such as the vindictive detective Rappleman, had been further developed.

With regard to humour in the book the author tries and fails to make fun of a public school by giving everyone unfunny double-barreled surnames. The author also tries to make a mockery of Catholic confession.

It is also stated in the book that Dushma is an unwanted child and that her mother barely knew the father. In contrast to this however St Gotha's fidelity is very strong as she refuses to let a gentleman betray his wife and so does not run away with the man, she is later killed for this.

'We don't think of it as stealing,' said Ibmajuj. 'We think of it as reparation. We are the unregistered. The dispossessed. What we take from society is a mere fraction of what we could have put back into society had we not been denied the chance, through no fault of our own, to contribute to the good of the community as hard-working, law-abiding, registered citizens.' He noticed her uncertain expression. 'Don't worry. You won't be on your own. The others'll look after you. I'm sure you'll be an asset to the community. I'm very glad you came.' He extended his hand towards her, holding her gaze with his large, sparkling eyes.

Thursday 17th July 2003