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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

A boy raised by wild dogs fights for survival in this gripping post apocalyptic tale by an acclaimed Carnegie Medalist. Jeet is a dogchild, raised by the wild dogs who killed his parents, then recaptured and “rehumanized.” He now lives with one of only two remaining human communities in the world, besieged by the much larger enemy clan. In a wasteland shaped by war, starvation, and haunting violence, Jeet grapples with his identity — he misses his wild family, and the people of his clan see dogchilds as less than human. When the human clans begin to prepare for a final, bloody battle against each other, Jeet is at the center. His struggle and his relationship with another rehumanized dogchild shed light on what it means to be human or inhuman — and what it takes to be a survivor. In his most ambitious novel yet, Carnegie Medalist Kevin Brooks offers a breathless work of speculative fiction that will have readers at the edge of their seat.…


by Kevin Brooks

Overall Book Review:

Dogchild is an end of the world tale but with a twist.  Instead of the final battles being solely between humans or humans and aliens, this novel pits the final two tribes of humans ultimately against wild dogs that roam free and feast on human flesh.

This novel is an interesting take on the end of world storyline.  The beginning left me wondering how the world had gotten to the state it was in, which isn’t ever really explained in the book.  The timeline picks up with two tribes being left on, presumably, the face of the earth along with the Deathland dogs.  It isn’t clear where on the globe the story takes place, which doesn’t really detract from the story as it could be anywhere and wouldn’t have made much of a difference.  The setting is pretty sparse, so more time is given to the character development.  Here again, a little sparse in that only a small handful of characters are well-developed and the remainder who play ancillary parts in the novel are given minimal detail and left to the imagination.

Overall, the story isn’t bad.  It was difficult to find stopping points or time references in the book as the book is not broken up into chapters.  Instead, when a perspective shifts or when a time jump is experienced there is an image of a dog head inserted between the paragraphs.  The thing that made this book difficult to read is the language used.  The book is written from the perspective of a dogchild who is recounting recent events.  I understand incorrect spellings and punctuation were used throughout the book in order to mimic how the writer was transcribing the tale, but I found it very distracting and it made sections of the book difficult to follow.  Specifically, words that are contractions have no apostrophes and some contraction spellings are variants of what is commonly used.

This tale is dark and violent (see content review) and due to content and reading level, younger readers should skip this one.  Older readers should be cautioned as there are many triggers throughout book.  Overall, a middle of the road read for those who enjoy battle/war/end of world type fiction. 

Review of an Advance Reading Copy

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Candlewick

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  9 mild obscenities; 2 derogatory names.

Violence/Gore:  Numerous reports of death from starvation or being killed in various ways; extremely graphic attack of three year old by eel with graphic depiction of halved body, blood and gore; references to cannibalism or dogs eating human flesh; numerous depictions of graphic blood, death and gore in battles between humans or dogs including throats being slashed or ripped out, chunks of flesh being removed, dangling or torn off, severed hands or body parts and graphic head wounds due to gun shots and death; girl jumps from high height presumably to commit suicide; verbal threats both with and without guns and various other weapons.

Sex/Nudity:  Boy runs naked with no detail; veiled reference to rape and torture of teenage girl; girl recalls being raped with detail of violence but not of sexual act itself; sex between teen boy and girl without graphic detail; teens share same bed repeatedly.

Mature Subject Matter:

Racial/tribal conflict; death; suicide; war; rape; abandonment; ethics; murder.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Adults and older teens drink alcohol.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

Books and reading have always been an important part of my life. When I was very young, my grandma was the library director at our local public library. Years later, after she had retired, I became a librarian at the same library and worked there for several years before taking a part-time job at a local coffee shop, which gives me more time to do what I love, to read and to review books! A few of my favorite authors are Aimee Bender, Diane Chamberlain, and Curtis Sittenfeld however, I will read almost any book I come across! In my spare time you can find me reading (of course), volunteering at a wildlife animal rehab, or hanging out with my two house rabbits.