The Book of Dog (Book Review)

The Book of Dog is one of the strangest books you’ll ever read, yet somehow it works. This apocalyptic tale of the coming of the rapture pairs American ignorance with freakish occurrences, sending the read on a dystopian path through the stories of six women and the inevitable end of the world as we know it. I can’t begin to describe how strange of a read this is, and I’m amazed at how well all of the bizarre pieces work together to create this inspiring story.

NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review. I only publish reviews of books I enjoy, and this novel meets that criterion.

THE BOOK OF DOG

Lark Benobi
Vegetablian Books, September 2018

QUICK SUMMARY

Six women begin a day like any other that quickly descends into chaos. The world is changing rapidly and nobody knows what to do about it. At the center is a woman on her way to give birth to a child who could decide the fate of the world.

Spoiler

WHY I LOVED IT

CULTURAL COMMENTARY

There’s so much going on in this book, making it a daunting task to break it down. The strongest commentary centers on American ignorance of bad news and our belief that if we ignore what’s happening, it will simply fix itself. The beginning moments of the book paint this picture perfectly. A woman is leaving a job, heading to a new city when she sees a mushroom cloud in her rearview mirror. Were this an action movie, cars would have swerved, people would be jumping out of their cars to gawk at the terror and run screaming. Instead, the character keeps driving, pretending it isn’t happening.

Throughout, we hear news broadcasts and religious sermons, focused more on heralding the end of the world than actually finding solutions to the issues at hand. We see a man who didn’t take any precautions because his specific news network didn’t talk about it, so it couldn’t be true. The world is literally falling apart and people are continuing to go about their daily lives. Even when they begin to turn into animals, they don’t think anything of it. They just think ‘wow, I’m an animal’ and go on with their lives. It’s astounding to imagine people reacting this way, but believable given the direction our news-driven culture is going.

LEGEND-LEVEL STORYTELLING

The writing style is something I haven’t seen before. At first, the dialogue seems stunted and the general narrative feels awkward. After a few chapters, it becomes obvious that the author is telling the story more as a legend or than a typical novel. Dialogue isn’t realistic in its cadence or casualness. It’s more formal, while somehow also being informal. This approach works well given the unfathomable happenings. It’s hard to articulate something nobody believes can happen, and the author has done just that, telling us an unbelievable story in an unbelievable fashion.

THE MATTER-OF-FACTNESS

This aspect is what makes the novel work. People turn into animals, the oceans are boiling, everything is falling apart, and the people just continue with their lives. There is no panic or fear on display, just groups of people living their lives as something different than they were yesterday. There are explosions of anger and confusion coming from the televisions and the radios, but everyone turns them off and rolls their eyes. This approach takes the story to a tall-tale level, lending a credibility to the events that feels strange to accept.

THE ABSURDITIES OF GOVERNMENT

The world is ending, so what does the government do? They hide underground and shoot missiles at things, hoping that will help solve the multiplying list of problems taking over the world. They remain huddled deep within their mountain, the President telling everyone that he will save the day. Unsurprisingly, the day isn’t saved and they don’t solve a single problem. It’s an obvious criticism of our modern leaders taken to the next level.

A STRANGE (AND HOPEFUL) ENDING

I don’t want to say much about the end of the book beyond the statement that it’s as wild as they come. The combination of political satire and criticism with the biblical rapture ends in a no-holds-barred sequence of events that leaves you laughing at its originality and boldness. These women band together to do what none of their peers have been able to do, fighting an evil that could mean their demise. They’re fearless and make for a brilliant set of heroes.

CONCEPTS

Dystopia, Alternate Reality, Science Fiction, Government, War

Interested in more books like The Book of Dog? Check out our book reviews here.

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash