Review: Strange Dogs

Posted: November 9, 2017 by in Books We Love (5/5 single_star) Meta: James S.A. Corey, Science Fiction

When originally planning out my review for this one, I thought about beginning with a strongly-worded letter to the publisher about ebooks in general, but decided against it. Instead, I’m going to opt for writing a strongly worded letter to all publishers of ebooks with the purpose of letting them know about my little beef with the way they’re doing things. So, here we go. “To Whom It May Concern: I am a huge fan of reading awesome books, and I read many of them on the e-reader of my choice. At the bottom of every page of every story I receive for my e-reader is a little percentage scale, which I quite frequently reference while reading, that let’s me know just how far I am into the story and how much goodness I have left to go. This tool has become a staple for me when reading books for the purpose of reviewing them. While reading this book, however, I came to a point that my e-reader’s scale said was about 65% of the way through the book when I found these unexpected words on the next page: THE END. I was incredibly perturbed by finding that the story I was reading was inexplicably over, and that the remaining 35% of the file was filled with sample chapters I had no interest in reading whatsoever. Hrm. How to say this nicely? Please do not do this to me again. There. If you want to give me sample chapters, which I am usually quite amenable to receiving, please instead include a link to said sample chapters on your website or other online location so that I do not feel cheated when suddenly finishing the awesome stories I expected to get in the first place. Thank you. Sincerely Yours, Your Somewhat-Disgruntled Yet Still Mostly-Friendly Neighborhood Team of Elitists”

STRANGE DOGS (Amazon) is another novella set in the Expanse universe created by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, writing as James S. A. Corey. At this point, I’m trying to remember how many novellas were under contract for this series, and a small niggling part of my brain is saying that this might be the last one, which makes me just the tiniest bit sad. But! A new Expanse novella, huzzah! And this with PERSEPOLIS RISING just around the corner. How can I be anything but ridiculously excited?

Cara is a precocious ten-year old girl. How could she not be? After all, she’s living with her family on one of the many now-populated planets on the far side of the Dandelion Sky (If you don’t already know what this is, don’t ruin things for yourself and go read these stories from the beginning). Every day brings her something new to see or experience. Life teems in its abundancy on their new world, and although her parents have warned her against the proclivity of nature to be unforgiving in its lessons, she’s come to understand this new world a little bit and found a way to be comfortable within it.

Cara’s family (mother, father, and brother) live near a small settlement of others that is located within a vast, sprawling rain-forest. The flora and fauna are all completely new, and yet for Cara there is always something just familiar enough that she can make a connection between what she finds around her home and what she she’s been taught about life on Earth. Thus, momma-bird and her chicks that live out on a nearby lake are just that. And yet, they are not. Then, when an attempt at sharing her lunch goes awry, she runs into another of the planet’s new fauna: the strange dogs. They look just like dogs. Except for the fact that they have too many joints in the their legs, and goofy bulbous eyeballs, and instincts that have nothing to do with rolling over or playing fetch.

Writing kids as main characters can sometimes be difficult when you’re trying to do a really good job at POV and characterization without making everything overly simplistic. It makes me happy to see that the authors here have done just as good of a job with this young girl as they have with any of the other characters they’ve developed in this series. Who this little girl is and how she’s being affected by this strange new world are at the heart of this story. Everything is so well laid out. From the discoveries the new planet has to offer, to the choices she makes as she finds them, to the inevitable outcome of this string of events that literally had me cringing in my arm chair.

STRANGE DOGS may only be a novella, but a great entry into The Expancse and an important piece of the puzzle in the world these guys are giving us.

There was only one point of the story that made me question, concerning Cara’s choices, and could have been developed a little more. And yet the consequences of that choice, and where the story is quite-obviously going to go from this point, has me nearly shaking in my boots with anticipation.

STRANGE DOGS is another great novella entry into the developing world of The Expanse, and a piece of the puzzle that reveals yet more of what its authors have in store for us. It. Was. Awesome. And I can’t wait to get some more.

  • Recommended Age: 14+
  • Language: A handful of strong words
  • Violence: Deals with the death of a child
  • Sex: None


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