Lives of the Monster Dogs
5 journalers for this copy...
"A group of elegant dogs in top hats, tails and bustled skirts became instant celebrities when they descend on New York in 2008. Refugees from a town in Canada that has been isolated for over a hundred years, the monster dogs retain the nineteenth-century Prussian culture of their human creator, but find adjusting to the modern world difficult. And as Cleo Pira - a young woman who befriends them - discovers, a strange and incurable illness has begun to threaten them with extinction."
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
Released during a meetup at this pub that stepped in at the last minute when we were double booked for a meetup. Not only were they great, but they want to be an OBCZ as well!
How could one resist a book with such a title? Monster Dogs, indeed.
The Lives of the Monster dogs should have been an exceptional novel. It has an intriguing premise and all the elements required for a gripping plot - dastardly scientists, loyal and dependable dogs and of course a crusading, innocent journalist to come to the rescue.
It is a retrospective account of the dying days of a race of dogs, the result of over 100 years of experimentation, genetic manipulation and physical alteration. Fitted with artificial hands and mechanic voice boxes, these dogs were designed to the perfect foot soldiers - tough, intelligence, loyal and deadly - but by the time their race has been perfected the ghoulish man who first conceived of them is long dead and with him has gone any sense of their purpose or any concept of whom they were intended to fight. Frustrated, the monster dogs rise up against the community in which they were bred, massacring their human masters and, after years of wondering around the North American continent, descend on an unsuspecting New York with all the grace and elegance of 19th century Prussian High Society - and fabulous wealth to boot.
Having already been asked to accept that a village in Canada could exist for over a hundred years unnoticed by anyone else and that a troupe of 150 or so man-sized speaking dogs dressed in Victorian costume could, in the early 21st century, roam through Canada and New England for eight years without comment, the reader is now asked to believe that the monster dogs would be accepted by New Yorkers with little more interest or comment than that which would be generated by the arrival of a Hollywood B-star. This is, quite frankly, too much. The author's argument that "hey, all New Yorkers are immigrants anyway and therefore understand and accept diversity" just isn't convincing. And this is the real flaw in the novel: while its language and scenario are rooted in the realism of today, its central premise is incredible and the reader is given no assistance to suspend disbelief.
This doesn't undermine the work entirely. It has a lot of good points. It is a fun and easy read, always thought-provoking and at times grotesques or moving. The drawing of the characters of the dogs is masterly, in particular those of Lydia, a tender and intelligent friend of peace, and Ludwig who alone seems to struggle to accept his differences. Yet ultimately, The Lives of the Monster Dogs fails to delivery on the promise of its premise, in part because of its incredible nature and in part because it, tantalising, fails to exploit fully the psychological issues it raises. One is felt feeling that the author has squandered an opportunity to write something of real merit and lasting significance.
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
I took this to the meet up last Tuesday at the Camel and Artichoke - somehow I forgot to do release notes beforehand.
I see Rivercassini's point about the far-fetched scenario, but that didn't bother me much. I read plenty of SF with far dodgier premises! The author has managed to take this science fictional scenario, and write a realist novel in it - something many SF writers try, but at which few succeed! The novel explores the characters of a few selected dogs, and the one human who is allowed to write about them, as the dogs arrive in New York, make their grand gesture, suffer their disaster. And then it all fades away, leaving us wondering (as we so often do in real life) what it all means, if anything.
The author has (presumably on purpose) used several first-person narrators, some narratives being found within others, and not always signalled a change. And the human, Cleo, says that the one dog she came to know as a friend was Ludwig, but tells us far more about her friendship with Lydia. This is done well, and although I agree that Bakis could have explored many of the issues more fully, I think that to do so would have dispelled the feelings of bewilderment and futility that she cleverly aroused.
The one thing about the scenario that did bug me was the dogs' legal status. Everyone seems to have accepted that the dogs are people, and no-one tried to casually exploit them, catch them, dissect them, or anything else.
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
In one of the bus-shelter-style waiting areas on the platform island.
Don't go looking for it - I saw someone pick it up, and she was reading it all the way to London.
The Flashy pink caught my eyes and I looked out of curiosity. I was not sure if I should take it or not as it is in english and may not be appealing in my hometown, but hey, you never know!(must have been funny to see me hesitate.)
I started to read it in the train and couldn't stop, I already had a book to read but it's more fun.
I'm still at the begining but I'm already thinking about the best place to leave it, where only good people could find it and take good care of it.
After wondering where to release this book,I took the chance of a holiday in Italy to make it travel a bit more. As I was visiting I've seen a lot of good places to leave it, but none offered as many posibilities as the airport so I settled for it.
At first I was a bit bewildered by the subject and above all by the scientist-character but I definitly spend a great time reading it.I can easily enter in the most absurd story, so this one was a piece of cake, it was easy to understand and discribed well enough to be not so unrealistic.
I finished it a while ago and now I can't hear the music I was listenning to while reading without having picture of the dogs :)
Thanks to the first person who released this book!
I hope the next one will enjoy it and make it travel a lot as well!