Friday, June 3, 2011

YA Review: The Dust of 100 Dogs

The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There are a good number of YA books that can crossover to Adult Fiction and cause quite a stir. This book just rose to the very top of that list. Two personalities could be a hard thing to read through but A.S. King serves up two exceptional heroines who are hard to ignore or underestimate.

In the 17th century, Emer's horrible luck and sad past has led her away from her family and one true love into piracy. When she finally comes close to returning to that life, the evil Frenchman, to whom she was once betrothed, kills her lover Seanie and when Emer takes her revenge on him, his first mate(and lover)is furious. He kills Emer, but only after cursing her to "live 100 lives as the female dog she is".

In 1972, we are introduced to Saffron Adams, the last of five children and the keeper of every single one of Emer's memories. While readers may be quick to fall deeply into the idea of literal reincarnation, one of the coolest things about Saffron is the fact that she is her own girl. Though she is similar to Emer, and has no problem imagining herself "slamming the end of her musket into someone's head", she is not that pirate girl. Even if she thinks she is.

The things that made this book exciting were the chapters that jumped between all of Emer's lives. Some chapters were written as Emer and others as Saffron, but there were also great sections where she spoke of what she learned in her various canine lives as well. The writing was sharp and as detailed as necessary so that readers didn't get bogged down into too much extra rhetoric but down to the heart of what was going on.

It was also absolutely intriguing to watch the different ways that Emer's life repeated in Saffrons, often with different results.

I thought this was a great option for teens that prefer to read stories with older themes and are less "teen-targeted". Pirate books have a tendency to be a bit over-the-top but this one was perfectly believable and matter-of-fact. Adults who read YA will love how seamlessly Emer and Saffron grow up and the book shifts tone. A great love story, a raunchy adventure, and a tale of living for your dreams, this one is a keeper.

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