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Dogs Paperback – July 1, 2008
The Amazon Book Review
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“Man’s best friend”—but what if Rover suddenly attacks and kills the child who owns and loves him? What if the same happens to other kids—and adults—down the street and all across town? Kress’ taut thriller cuts to the core of the man-dog bond to unsettle, unnerve, and unravel readers’ trust. A canine virus sweeps through a rural town in which widowed Tessa, once an FBI agent, lives with her poodle. Repeatedly passed over for promotion because her husband was Arab, Tessa has turned her back on agency business; but now she’s a subject of interest in quarantined Tyler (a federal disaster area, no less), where some have surrendered their dogs to the local animal-control people while others have freed theirs to roam wildly, form packs, and kill. Just why is Tessa’s name turning up in telecommunications monitored by the feds? After Tessa goes undercover to find out, the suspense ratchets up in this perfect vacation read. --Whitney Scott
Kress, a witty and engaging writer, creates chilling suspense as twisty as a DNA double helix.”
Her style is devilishly inventive, her characters are more than cardboard cut-outs, and they wrestle with important issuesmedical and ethicalevery step of the way.”
Full of suspense and creepy details...delivers on the potential of its
San Francisco Chronicle
...an appealing mix of horror, thriller, allegory, and satire...biting satire.”
...a page turner...unusual and refreshing. Highly recommended.”
...a near-future techno-thriller, with a touch of Stephen King. Fine work....”
Dogs is the kind of thriller that continually makes you want to turn the pages faster than you can read them.”
In my opinion, Nancy Kress is one of the best science-fiction authors of today.... Kress has the magical ability of weaving amazing plot, believable science, and intriguing characters into a coherent whole.”
Kress has a flair for punchy melodrama.”
...a spine-chilling, suspense-laden story of pets turned unwitting killers.”
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Top customer reviews
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.
Even so, I'm still one of Nancy's biggest fans.
This is a thriller with likable characters, and violence to adults, kids and dogs. The pace is fast and carries you along.
Ms Kress was asked by her publishers to change the last chapter, offers her original last chapter, and asks readers to give their feedback. Personally I don't think it makes much of a difference, and I do prefer it as originally written.
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.
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.