Most helpful critical review
23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Four stars for the second half, two for the first part...
on February 16, 2011
I guess I'm going to be the grinch of the reviewers posted here, despite my credentials as a life-long dog worshipper and novel reader. Mr. Cameron came up with a wonderful premise: instead of "All Dogs Go to Heaven" as the animated film claimed some years back, he assumes that "All dogs return to earth for subsequent lives." I have wondered about that ever since my early teens. His choice to write from the dog's viewpoint created many difficulties for him, however. How come the dog seems to understand certain things about humans and their habits, but not others? The first life we are exposed to in the book seems to be this dog's first life ever, yet later on, he remembers details he learned from past-life experiences. Since the book's hero canine has an immortal soul, as I hope is the case in real life, where was it before the book opens? Or inbetween lives? Not all problems like these are touched on satisfactorily in the book, and while perhaps they are minor points, they nag at me. But the big problem is this: It seems as if "A Dog's Purpose" is, in the first 179 pages, a rough draft of the novel's starting idea. Not only are the families with whom the dog lives several lives not very interesting or credible, but the dog's own personality did not really win me over until this half of the novel neared its climax. The writing style in this long section almost seems to be the work of an author who himself is in an early life, without the skills he will develop via experience. Then comes Chapter 18 and the rest of the book, 140 pages of powerful emotions, brilliant writing, lovable characters both human and animal, and great reader satisfaction. My advice: Start with Chapter 18. You wiil miss a few references to the dog's earlier lives, but you'll catch on quick, and you'll fall in love with the dog, and after the final page you can turn to the front and read about the earlier life experiences, much less annoyed by slow passages, uninteresting developments, negative moments, and dull personalities, both human and canine. I almost gave up on this book twice, but the friend who gifted me with it admitted the first half was a slog, but assured me the conclusion was worth the journey. He was right, as usual for him. From page one to page 179, I had to force myself to read a handful of pages per day. For the rest of the way, I had to force myself to put the book aside and go to work or sleep.