Rating: 3.8 Stars
Let me preface this review with my admitted subjectivity – I rarely read dog books. But, I’m a dog lover, so go figure. Its mostly because I have a very hard time reading books where dogs are injured or die. This is the reason why I quit The Art of Racing in the Rain, and why I refuse to read Marley and Me. I’m left in fits of inconsolable sadness when the life of a dog ends. This book was recommended to me by a dog lover, and upon reading the hook of the book, I did not expect it to be as dark as it was. Had I known what I was in for, I never would have read it.
The premise of the story, is that two Gods, Hermes and Apollo create a wager. Hermes believes that if given human consciousness, animals can die happily, while Apollo believes it not possible. They test their theory on 15 dogs, and the result is fascinating. Some dogs are drawn to the “old ways”, while others try to forge different relationships and experiment with different styles of living. Divisions cause rifts and struggles as they navigate their new consciousness.
The book is incredibly philosophical, as you follow the mindset of some more than others. Some dogs choose each other as companions while others prefer loneliness, or the love of humans. The personalities that develop from this are very creative and incredibly believable. Alexis really gets inside of the heads of dogs and the characterization is incredibly convincing.
The location of Toronto, the specifics he used in describing the movements of the dogs created a clear picture of their lives I could easily follow along. The setting was very well done with superbly chosen settings for the dogs to live.
Despite the incredibly well written book, the well thought out perspectives of the stories, the emotional upheaval it put me through prevents me from giving it 4 stars. This is a matter of personal preference, I just can’t give my high recommendation.
Recommendation: If you are sensitive, and are like me, unable to read sad tales about dogs, I’d second guess reading this book. That being said, it is beautifully written, and I do understand how it is so highly regarded. Proceed with caution.