Dogchild by Kevin Brooks

Dogchild by Kevin Brooks. Candlewick, 2020. 9781536209747

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4.5

Genre:  Speculative fiction/fantasy

What did you like about the book? This intense novel imagines the plight of the few human communities left after earth’s climate, oceans and land have been polluted beyond repair. There is the Town, where Jeet lives, with a few hundred people. There is the enemy community, the Dau, with a few thousand. And there are roving bands of wild dogs. Sometimes, as a result of skirmishes between the communities, children are found by the dogs and raised as their own. When these children are reclaimed, they are called “dogchilds.” Jeet is a dogchild, and he has the abilities of smell and pack intuition of a dog. When he senses that Pilgrim, the second in command of the Town, is secretly planning a violent treasonous capitulation to the Dau, Jeet tries to warn the leaders. But Pilgrim’s influence and sadism thwart him at every turn. Complicating matters, Jeet has discovered that Chola Se, a fellow dogchild, was kidnapped and abused by Pilgrim, who claims it was the Dau.

This story is so compelling, and the world is really well drawn. Jeet’s narration is also a history of the Town that leaders have asked him to write, so the reader has a clear description of all of the characters and their relationships as the action unfolds. The world of “dogchilds” and dogs is fascinating and beautiful. Especially intense is the karmic relationship beween Jeet and his dog mother. The dogs as a group are really anything but wild, surviving in a community which is more evolved than the humans in some ways.

So, the story is one of survival and a cautionary tale of the future of the human race. There is a fair amount of violence, including sexual, as well as romance and a meditation on what it’s like to be human. Plus the dog stuff is so cool!

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book? For teens, ages 14 and up. Recommend to readers who like dark, intense drama, and are not put off by violence. This will also have appeal for adults.

Who should buy this book? High schools and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Teen or adult fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Near the top

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: September 9, 2020

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