The Dust of 100 Dogs is not your typical fantasy/sci-fi novel. Yes, we know that’s kind of become a cliché, and at this point, what is typical, really? But really, trust us on this. This book is unlike anything we’ve ever read, and you can be sure that makes it an interesting read.
The premise is that Emer is a teenage female pirate living during the pirate glory days in the Caribbean. Yes, you read that right. A teenage female pirate. Under mysterious circumstances (that, of course, become clear during the book), the man she loves is murdered right in front of her eyes, so of course, Emer kills the man responsible. She is then cursed to live as a dog for 100 lives, until she’s reborn as a human.
Everyone still with us? Good.
Emer’s reborn persona is Saffron, and she’s… well… a bit difficult. Having full knowledge of her previous lives, both as a dog and as Emer, she doesn’t exactly have a lot of patience for her poor Pennsylvania family. While it’s easy to get why Saffron’s so unhappy, it’s also a little painful to see how badly she treats her parents, who put the burden of all their hopes on her shoulders. They see her as their chance to escape the humdrum existence of the blue collar world, but Saffron wants none of the responsibility.
While we’re learning about Saffron’s existence (it’s kind of difficult to call it a life, as pretty much all she does is study and dream of escaping), the novel flashes back to both Emer’s life as well as a few of Emer’s dog lives. The author doesn’t hesitate to take a stand on animal rights and preach about how she thinks dogs should be treated, and it could be annoying, except she’s pretty much right in everything she says.
Emer’s life is pretty interesting, to say the least. She lives through some horrifying things, but it’s nice how she always manages to pull herself back up. She’s a strong, resourceful character and Saffron draws strength from Emer. And speaking of horrifying things, this book is not really traditional YA fare. There’s rape, animal abuse, graphic violence, and more. That’s not to say it’s bad by any means; it’s well written, but the themes in the book are more adult than what you’d think, considering the cartoony cover and the fact that the book is classified as YA.
Long story short? The Dust of 100 Dogs is worth reading. We can’t say we absolutely loved it, but it was so different that it had us hooked from beginning to end. The writing is great, and while there are a few plot holes big enough to jump through, it’s definitely different.
What's the last book you read that was totally different than what you expected?