Dust City

Dust City

3.7 11
by Robert Paul Weston
     
 

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Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?

His son, that's who.

Ever since his father's arrest for the murder of Little Red Riding Hood, teen wolf Henry Whelp has kept a low profile in a Home for Wayward Wolves . . . until a murder at the Home leads Henry to believe his father may have been framed.

Now, with the help of his kleptomaniac roommate, Jack, and a daring

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Overview

Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?

His son, that's who.

Ever since his father's arrest for the murder of Little Red Riding Hood, teen wolf Henry Whelp has kept a low profile in a Home for Wayward Wolves . . . until a murder at the Home leads Henry to believe his father may have been framed.

Now, with the help of his kleptomaniac roommate, Jack, and a daring she-wolf named Fiona, Henry will have to venture deep into the heart of Dust City: a rundown, gritty metropolis where fairydust is craved by everyone-and controlled by a dangerous mob of Water Nixies and their crime boss leader, Skinner.

Can Henry solve the mystery of his family's sinister past? Or, like his father before him, is he destined for life as a big bad wolf?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In his second novel for young readers (and his first for teens), Weston (Zorgamazoo) includes a few familiar fairytale names, like a Jack who nabs a bag of magic beans and "Detective Inspector White" (an audacious, modern Snow White). But this noirish page-turner is no bedtime story. Once, there were fairies whose dust brought health and happiness to Dust City, but 16-year-old Henry Whelp—a talking, walking wolf—is locked in a world where the fairies have disappeared and a pale form of fairydust is an addictive catchall drug made by powerful corporations. When he escapes juvenile detention to see his imprisoned father, who believes fairies are still around but captured by the corporations, Henry finds a hopeful romance with a wolf named Fiona and becomes dangerously entangled with ruthless mobsters. Clever use of iconic characters and fairytale symbols against a hardboiled backdrop contribute to Weston's distinctive and highly imaginative mise en scène. Though Henry knows that not all fairytales have happy endings, his scrappy determination to restore good should have readers avidly following him through the grimy streets of his brutal world. Ages 12–up. (Nov.)
Children's Literature - Paula Rohrlick
In this gritty, witty take on Grimm fairy tales, 16-year-old Henry, a wolf, escapes from the St. Remus Home for Wayward Youth. He is out to prove his father's innocence in the murders of Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother; he suspects magical "dust," a dangerous drug-like substance controlled by the nasty nixies since the fairies have all vanished, may have been involved. With the help of his hominid friend Jack and Jack's magic beans, as well as the assistance of an attractive photographer wolf named Fiona, Henry tackles the mystery of what really happened on the night of the murders. In the course of his investigations, he encounters the sinister mob leader Skinner, who turns all he touches to gold, as well as giants, goblins and a huge monster from the city's depths. Henry also uncovers and tries to foil an evil plot to turn all the evolved animals, like him, back into simple beasts. This creative tale isn't very well served by its moody, overly low-key cover, which features a wolf's eyes overlooking a cloud-shrouded city. Promote this to fans of dark fantasy, who will appreciate the author's vivid imagination and his creative take on some familiar characters. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick
VOYA - Melissa Moore
Henry Whelp has landed in the Home for Wayward Wolves because his mother is dead and his father has been arrested for killing Red Riding Hood and her grandmother. But Henry has cause to believe that his likeable dad has been framed, and letters arrive casting blame on the dust-supplier Nimbus Thaumaturgical and the evil dwarf Skinner. Then the Home's psychologist ends up dead, and Henry grabs his chance and escapes to the city. Henry quickly finds himself in over his head in a crime ring, and the only answer appears to be discovering a way to ascend to Eden, the former home of the fairies who were the original source of the dust. Weston has created an amalgam of fairy-tale familiars—from Red Riding Hood to Detective White (with her cherry-red lips, dark hair, and ability to fend off several small men at once), from Cinderella to Peter Pan and even Rumplestiltskin—in this dark world reminiscent somehow of Gotham City. A fast-paced plot keeps things moving, even if questions are left unanswered along the way, but the characters will be hard for readers to connect with, as Weston tries unsuccessfully to ride the fence between animal life and humanity. This dark tale will be a difficult sell to readers. Reviewer: Melissa Moore
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Henry Whelp is a wolf, and not just any wolf—he's one of the animals that has evolved to human size and intelligence. His father is in prison for murdering a girl and her grandmother, à la Little Red Riding Hood, while Henry is living at a juvenile detention facility. With help from his human friend Jack (possessor of magic beans, of course), Henry escapes from the home and obtains letters his father wrote to him about the real circumstances surrounding his crime. Dad worked for Skinner, the mobster who controls illegal trade in dust—manufactured quasi-fairydust that causes wishes to become reality—and he asks his son to investigate what happened to the fairies who used to provide the real thing. Henry starts running dust for Skinner in an attempt to discover the truth, facing ever-increasing danger. He's aided by Fiona, a beautiful young female wolf, and the two eventually travel to the fairies' former home, the floating city of Eden, where they risk their lives to reveal the fairies' fate. This dark tale will appeal to fractured fairy tale and "Hunger Games" fans alike, and its urgency and obvious parallels to real drugs ring true in spite of the imagined setting and characters. There's some extreme violence, including some committed by the generally sympathetic Henry, but it contributes to the story's immediacy and sense of danger.—Beth L. Meister, Milwaukee Jewish Day School, WI
Kirkus Reviews
In a noir caper with racial overtones, the Big Bad Wolf's son escapes from juvie and uncovers an ugly corporate plot to corner the fairy-dust market. With all the fairies suddenly gone from the floating city of Eden, the only magic left to the evolved wolves, dwarves, goblins, cats, elves and foxes in the earthbound city below comes in adulterated form from the dust mines of human-owned Nimbus Thaumaturgical ("Better Living Through Enchantment") or illegally through the nixie mob. Determined to find out what really happened to the fairies, Henry Whelp becomes a nixiedust runner and discovers horrors both below ground and in the aerial realm—capped by the revelation of a genocidal scheme to develop a bad dust that will cause all of the "animalia" species to revert to their bestial originals. There's only a glimmer of hope that some fairies survive, but with plenty of help from an attractive lupine photojournalist and a sack of very special beans passed on by a human thief named Jack, Henry takes on the foes of multispecies amity. Weston deftly tucks his fairy-tale tropes into this thought-provoking mystery. (Fantasy/mystery. 11-13)
From the Publisher
“Dust City is the Grimm Fairy Tales as imagined by Guy Ritchie.” - Edmonton Journal

“Dust City has all the trappings of noir storytelling—except that its characters are wolves, foxes, and ravens, and the illicit drug eating away at the populace is an intoxicating form of fairy dust. It’s as if James Ellroy were one of the Brothers Grimm.” - Georgia Straight

“Weston deftly tucks his fairy-tale tropes into this thought-provoking mystery.” - Kirkus Reviews

“Clever use of iconic characters and fairytale symbols against a hardboiled backdrop contribute to Weston's distinctive and highly imaginative mise en scène.” - Publishers Weekly

“The clever setup and gutting of fairy-tale tropes will garner plenty of enthusiasm.” - Booklist

“This novel will appeal to both reluctant and voracious readers, whether they’re teens or adults, so go to your local bookstore or find it online. But whatever you do or however you find it, make sure you read Dust City!” - YA Bookshelf

“A highly original exploration of the dark side of fairy tales, Weston’s tale is smart and sophisticated.” - Canadian Library Association

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781595142962
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
09/30/2010
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
8.80(w) x 11.28(h) x 1.01(d)
Lexile:
630L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Robert Paul Weston's first novel was Zorgamazoo, a Booklist top ten debut of 2008. Born in the UK and raised in Canada, Robert Paul Weston lives in Toronto, where he currently teaches creative writing at the University of Toronto.

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