DOGS OF THE DEADLANDS, by Anthony McGowan, Rock the Boat; US edition, Sept. 13, 2022, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 10 and up)
A dog and her pups fight to survive following the Chernobyl disaster in Anthony McGowan’s new middle-grade novel, Dogs of the Deadlands.
Chernobyl, 1986. Without humans, how will dogs survive?
As humans fled the nuclear disaster, they were forced to leave their pets behind. Without people, nature began to return to the woods surrounding the power plant — lynx, bear, and wolves. But the overgrown forest is no place for dogs. Can Zoya, and her pups Misha and Luka, learn to survive in the deadlands? And will Zoya ever find her way home to her beloved owner? —Synopsis provided by Rock the Boat
Dogs of the Deadlands is told from a number of points of view — human and canine — though mostly from the dogs. But because author Anthony McGowan has approached the characters in the same way, they have equal weight, equal value. Each character is fully explored through thoughtful and honest prose.
But it’s that honesty that may be difficult for some readers. Dogs of the Deadlands is, after all, about animals living in the wild. There is violence, death and pain. McGowan is not overly gory in his descriptions, but he is direct. That directness also applies to the affection and friendships that also develop through his novel.
Dogs of the Deadlands is a fast-moving read featuring short chapters and black-and-white illustrations sprinkled throughout. It’s a compelling novel that forces readers to think beyond human implications. It’s an excellent read that should appeal to a fairly large audience and could be a good classroom option.
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