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Singing the Dogstar Blues Hardcover – April 14, 2003


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 550L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Juvenile (April 14, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670036102
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670036103
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,428,835 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up-This highly entertaining Australian novel is an unusual mixture of genres: time travel, comedic mystery thriller, and realistic portrayal of familial and alien relationships. Surprisingly, it works extremely well entirely due to the fact that the main character is so perfectly drawn. Joss Aaronson, 18, is an independent, spirited, and feisty young woman with a sarcastic mouth. She rarely sees her mother, a famous newscaster. Joss was conceived via a gene donor: "Straight from the petri dish to you." She's been expelled from several boarding schools and is close to expulsion from a prestigious university program in time-travel studies. For the first time, an alien from another planet has been admitted, and Joss is his study partner and roommate. A wicked harmonica player, she is intrigued that Mavkel's species communicates by harmonizing through song. His twin has died and he will, too, if he doesn't find someone with whom to join minds. He chooses Joss, although to help him, she needs to find out who her father was. Thus, the partners embark on a dangerous, illegal journey back in time. The plot and characterizations are well done; the book has lots of action, witty dialogue, and pop-culture references, and sensitively portrays complicated relationships between a mother and daughter, and members of different cultures. This book is more inventive than Mary Logue's Dancing with an Alien (HarperCollins, 2000) and, unlike M. T. Anderson's Feed (Candlewick, 2002), the tone of the made-up language is meant to be funny. While easy to decipher, the language is a bit crude. This intriguing and exciting read has lots of teen appeal.
Sharon Rawlins, Piscataway Public Library, NJ
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Gr. 7-12. Daughter of a sperm donor and a mother who is a famous newscaster, Joss is a wild, fun-loving girl who plays the harmonica. She's also a student of time travel at the Centre for Neo-Historical Studies. Her life turns upside down when Mavkel, the first Chorian to visit Earth, comes to study time travel and selects Joss to be his roommate and study partner. The partnership puts a crimp in Joss' usual freewheeling lifestyle, but she finds plenty of excitement and danger with Mavkel, including meeting an assassin and a confrontation with an anti-alien lobby group. In addition, she's fascinated with Mavkel's heritage, especially with the fact that the Chorians are a harmonizing species of twins who communicate through song. When Mavkel becomes ill and ends up on the brink of death, Joss has to break the center's strictest rule and go back in time to save her alien friend. This wildly entertaining novel successfully mixes adventure, humor, mystery, and sf into a fast-paced, thrilling story that will appeal to a wide audience. Ed Sullivan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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I really, really liked this book and I wish there was a sequel too.
Janey Henderson
I couldn't picture what Mavkel actually looked like but it didn't hinder the character development.
Flannery
The one complaint I had about this book was the predictability of the ending.
S. Su

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By YA Reading Fool on May 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The acceptance of different sexualities in future societies has long been a staple of science fiction. To downgrade this book on the basis that it deals in part with homosexuality does it a disservice. If you don't like HOW it deals with the issue (meaning the writing is awkward, belabored, etc.,), that's one thing. To object because it DOES deal with it is a completely different situation. This book deals with the issue of who you are, both genetically and sociologically. Who you are depends so much on your experiences in life, the people who had an effect on you as you grew, your inborn personality, and the way you interact with the world and the way the world interacts with you. So yes, homosexuality is an issue in this book, but as part of a larger picture: if in the future, test-tube babies and genetic engineering become the norm, how will that affect our families? How will it affect our concepts of ourselves? But the issue of family is central: If a parent can't or doesn't provide the love and nuturing we need, it's vital to find a loving and supportive adult figure who can. If in this case, that happens to be Joss's mother's same-sex partner, so be it.

That issue aside, I found this a very good read. The characters were distinct and interesting. The situations were intriguing. It's not new for a science fiction novel to explore first contact with alien species, but Goodman's aliens have depth and texture, and the difference and similarities between the species are explored sensitively. I found the relationship between Joss and Mavkel a high point in the book. I loved Joss's rebellious, independent character, and I wanted to know more about her walk on the shady side.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Aimz on February 3, 2002
Format: Audio Cassette
This book is one of my favourites, it varys from subjects like time and space travel to a slight racism. The charecter Mav is fantastic, i love this and the input of music as healing is fantastic, i would love it if there was a sequal
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Aliens. Aliens from a distant planet have landed on the Earth. The landing was expected and anticipated. Joss Aarrenson attends an academy so she can learn how to time jump (time travel) into the history or future. The aliens that land on the Earth are called Chorians. Joss is chosen to partner up with a visiting alien who wants to learn how to time jump. Mavkel was his name, Mav for short. Mav soon becomes closer to Joss, and after a little getting used to, Joss is treating Mav like a family member. Things soon get harder and harder for Joss and Mav, and Mav is falling further into depression and closer to death. Refmol, the chorian chanter, finds that Mav must be joined telepathically with another being if he is to stay alive. Joss is the only thing, and in this case hope, for Mav. She must find her father if she is to join with Mav, but she's been trying for as long as she can remember. Why Joss? Why Mav?
This story is told in a mysterious and futuristic way that is sure to make you want to keep reading until the end. It is hilarious in parts, and always leaves a question pounding in your head that you won't find out until you're finished with the book. A thrilling and entertaining story!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Janey Henderson on July 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I really, really liked this book and I wish there was a sequel too. Joss is normal but also clever so I could relate to her and I love Mav. I was hooked from the very beginning and also go my brother who is 19 to read it and he liked it too. I live in Melbourne, Australia, and it was great to read about Melbourne in the future - the author really put some thought into that, and also the humour. The ending was really exciting too.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By YA book lover on August 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
"Singing the Dogstar Blues" is that rare specimen of YA fiction called science fiction. That's right, not dystopia or rather dystopian romance, not sci-fi romance, but real deal sci-fi. There are no love triangles in it, no angst, no moping around boys. Gee, no wonder nobody read it. My library book was bought 6 years and looks as if nobody ever even touched it.

Joss Aaronson is a 1st year student at a time travel school. She is about to be paired up with her permanent TT partner who would accompany her on all her adventures. Her partner turns out to be the first alien admitted to the TT school Mavkel. For some reason he feels Joss is his perfect mate. Mavkel's race is deeply dual. Its species live in telepathically connected pairs. Mavkel needs to establish a psychic connection with Joss without which he can't exist. After several failed attempts to connect, the couple's last resort is to travel back into the past to seek the missing ingredient to assist their union.

Great things about "Singing the Dogstar Blues":

1) time travel! - I craved more of it though.

2) aliens! - Mavkel is the cutest alien with a fab personality and the whole concept of his society is very curious.

3) futuristic setting! - loved the cyberpunky feel of it.

4) emphasis on developing of friendship instead of romance!

5) a heroine who kicks ass and who is rebellious without being annoying.

6) mystery! - yes, an actual mystery involving assassins, sperm donors and DNA.

I mean, what's not to like here? Why aren't there more books like this? It is always such a pleasure to read teen books that are both entertaining, light and not dumb. I can't read Le Guin's complex and thought-provoking sci-fi all the time, right? Some fun teen sci-fi is necessary too.
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