mordicai caeli (mordicai) wrote,
mordicai caeli

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Dust-Off. (48)

Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King.

Sad, sad Irish girl--
go be a pirate, I guess?
or a teenager.

All signs pointed to this book being genius. Great packaging-- what a cover, right? & a madcap premise that sold both Jenny & me right off the bat: Seventeenth-century pirate Emer Morrisey, murdered and cursed to live the lives of 100 dogs, finally rematerializes as Saffron Adams, 1980s teenager. Sound amazing, doesn't it? Well, I'm sorry to say it wasn't. First off, it never lives up to the potential of the premise. It starts with a quick prologue about the pirate-- no, no, not a pirate like you are thinking? No! A cute teenage girl pirate! What the heck. We've already got a teenage girl in the story-- & in fact, the story skips the incarnations as a dog & goes right to her. The dog bits are interjected as "puppy facts" throughout the book, which never crystallize into anything. The pirate thing is then pushed back; the plot is the entwined lives of a petulant modern teenager surrounded by a cast of failures (her family & "friends") & the past life of a abused girl in Cromwell's Ireland. Oh...boy. The abuse doesn't really stop, transforming eventually into rape, & then suddenly for no particular reason the teenage girl is able to kill a dozen pirates & become a pirate captain herself, on the turn of a dime. Don't worry about her actually being much of a pirate though-- it segues back into abuse, as she's kept in prison for 10 months by one of the guys who raped her. The modern storyline, meanwhile, basically treads water, but a villain is introduced-- the fat, voyeuristic fratboy (who has date raped tons of girls, lest that isn't clear). Who is the reincarnation of the guy who raped her as a pirate. Of course. Despite a "puppy fact" section about the evils of slavery, there are some pretty substantial race problems in the book-- like the fact that there is only one black character in the book, & that character only exists to use magic to advance the plot. Really. There really is a magical negro. Just, straight up, a black guy runs out of the woods & curses her. Oh & the villains are gay. Self-loathingly gay. That could have been balanced out by having any other gay people in the book at all, sure, but the magical negro...really? Really. So yeah-- I wanted to like this. Instead, I had to wrestle my way through it. & the "true love" plotline is banal & saccharine-- the love interest is absent most of the time &...well, the bulk of their relationship is done by staring into each others eyes. & then in the clinch she leaves the guy who actually stood by her & had a relationship with her for her childhood sweetheart...for no particular reason. & then for no particular reason, he's there, reincarnated, at the end of the book. Ugh; the hollowest of romances.
Tags: books, haiku

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