Dogs Paperback – Jul 1 2008
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"The suspense ratchets up in this perfect vacation read." Booklist
"An appealing mix of horror, thriller, allegory, and satire. . . . an appealing mix of horror, thriller, allegory, and satire . . . biting satire." Locus
"The best scenes . . . have a straight-ahead disaster-novel feel to them, full of suspense and creepy details." San Francisco Chronicle
"Kress's engrossing thriller shows a range of reactions from the community. Her bio notes she lives with 'the world's most spoiled toy poodle' and that kind of attachment is evident in the strong feelings of her characters." Denver Post
"Kress has a flair for punchy melodrama." The Washington Post
"In my opinion, Nancy Kress is one of the best science fiction authors of today." blogcritics.com
About the Author
Nancy Kress is the best-selling author of twenty science-fiction and fantasy novels,
including Beggars in Spain, Probability Space, and Steal Across the Sky. She has also published four short-story collections and three books on the fundamentals of writing. Kress is a four-time Nebula Award winner and the recipient of two Hugos, the Sturgeon, and the Campbell awards. Her fiction has been translated into nearly two dozen languages, including Klingon. She teaches at venues including the Clarion Writers' Program and as a guest professor at the University of Leipzig in Germany.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
While there were a few too many viewpoint characters to end up attached to any of them, the number- with their different perspectives- did make for a more subtle read than one that's just good guys/bad guys.
There was a lot of action in this book which made it a page-turner for me, but I think a number of points did not get resolved. OK, the virus is a terrorist plot. Why? Why THAT??? How was the virus shared? It seemed that some isolated dogs got it, and some did not. It looked like as the virus progressed, it caused insanity in dogs and humans both... but the aspect of that for humans, and the meaning of it, was skated over.
Personally, I think it would have been a stronger novel if it had NOT had a "terrorist" cause and was a naturally-occurring pandemic; maybe a rabies mutant, or an accidental contaminant in dog food. But I guess "terrorists" are the trendy Bad Guys these days.
Still- it's a quick and creepy read, plus raises some interesting questions. Honestly, it should have been double the length, with more detail.
Dogs is a look at how people live up, or down, to their true selves in an emergency; a sharp commentary about how we treat pets as children; a sad reminder of how anymore, few of us trust our Government in an emergency, and a compelling page-turner with a wonderfully satisfying ending.
Even so, I'm still one of Nancy's biggest fans.
Not so this novel, even though there were points where I wasn't certain. Although the narrative stays in the third person this time (one of my past complaints about Kress has been overuse/misuse of the first-person viewpoint), the focus still jumps back and forth. I don't recall a single point in the book where the focus stayed on the same character in two consecutive chapters.
** WARNING - A FEW SPOILERS FOLLOW **
While the narrative is well-structured and tight, the frequent focus shifts meant I wasn't able to drum up any empathy or emotional response as a reader. Just as I would get comfortable with Tessa, the focus would shift to Cami or Ed and their particular take on the events as they unfolded. Kress never stayed long enough with a single character to allow for the in-depth development she has shown herself capable of in other books such as those in the Beggars series.
This detracted from the book, because it meant that Tessa's misadventures in London were, frankly, uninteresting; and the relationship with her sister is so poorly explored that it leaves me wondering why Kress even put the sister in there if not for the oh-so-convenient way it allowed for a passport substitute. It also meant that the developing relationship between Tessa and Jess came across as utterly false. Never once did we see any anger, caring or worry on either of their parts except for two scenes where it felt very artificial.
Had Kress made more room in her books for the main characters by spending less time with the secondary characters, it might have been easier to "get lost in" the plot. As it was, the setup felt more like a collection of news articles than a true novel. I'm not convinced this wasn't intentional, as Kress clearly is trying to make a comment about modern society's relationship with national and international events.
As a concept, the plot and setup are well-executed; and the subject matter is certainly very timely. But as a novel, just like some of Kress' other work, the structure is so weak that it becomes an actual detractor. I'd love to see this revised to be a little more like a novel and less like a loose collection of anecdotes or news articles. In this format, though, it's best for an afternoon of quick reading without much digestion or reflection.