About This Book:
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Author: Allan Stratton
Publisher: Andersen Press
Audience: Upper middle grade/ lower YA
Pub. Date: February 5th 2015
Cameron and his mom have been on the run for five years. His father is hunting them. At least, that’s what Cameron’s been told. When they settle in an isolated farmhouse, Cameron starts to see and hear things that aren’t possible. Soon he’s questioning everything he thought he knew and even his sanity. What’s hiding in the night? Buried in the past? Cameron must uncover the dark secrets before they tear him apart.
*Review copy provided by the Scholastic Canada. This does not affect my opinion or review.*
Whoa, what a ride! I don’t read a lot of thrillers, and this one really surprised me. I didn’t really have high expectations, which is sometimes a good thing. In this case, I was definitely blown away! I was constantly second-guessing the motives and actions of all the characters, expecting a plot twist at any moments (for which there were plenty).
As I said before, I don’t usually read thrillers. From the start, I knew that this was going to be a dark story, and it definitely was. I’m not sure whether or not that was a good thing, but if you like dark MG then this might be for you. The author uses language in a way that makes your heart race, and your fists clench in anticipation of what will happen next.
The main character, Cameron, was very interesting. At the beginning, he leaves a lot of information for the reader to figure out, like what happened between his parents. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and from a writer’s point of view, it was probably a smart move. It kept me reading! But I really like knowing the basic information (like the cause of the problem) from the get-go, so I can connect with the main character a little more easily. That said, I really liked Cameron as a character. He isn’t necessarily a strong person, and at one point he thinks that he’s going insane, but he cares deeply about those around him and fights for them. I loved this! When reading, I don’t necessarily need the main character to be physically strong because if the emotion and desire is there, it doesn’t really matter.
I’m not personally a fan of animal books at all, mostly because I can’t stand when the animals are hurt or killed, which they usually are (I couldn’t even watch the movie Hotel For Dogs–It made me too sad) so I was cautious about getting attached to any animal in this book. Fortunately, the “dogs” in the title are a reference to the farmer who lived on the farm that Cameron is staying on decades ago, and was mauled to death by his own guard dogs.
This event ends up playing a central role in the novel, since the mystery that Cameron is trying to solve is the one surrounding the farmer’s, Frank McTavish, death and the disappearance of his wife and son. Cameron thinks that he is hearing the voice of Frank’s son, Jacky, in his head and decides to investigate.
By the end, I had a theory about what was going to happen. Unfortunately, I was completely and utterly wrong. The ending was the part of the book that most impressed me because throughout the span of those last few chapters, I experienced all of the emotions: I grinned, I frowned, I shrieked (in my head, thankfully), etc. It wasn’t the ending I had hoped for but looking back, it was the one that made the most sense for the novel. Not everyone gets their happily ever after but, well, it’s realistic. Overall, I was really please with The Dogs! It’s a great thriller and although the main character is in middle school, I would recommend it to both upper MG and lower YA readers. A satisfying read, for sure!