Sunday, 2 February 2014

Review || The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King

The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King ★★☆☆☆
In the late seventeenth century, famed teenage pirate Emer Morrisey was on the cusp of escaping the pirate life with her one true love and unfathomable riches when she was slain and cursed with "the dust of one hundred dogs," dooming her to one hundred lives as a dog before returning to a human body-with her memories intact.

Now she's a contemporary American teenager and all she needs is a shovel and a ride to Jamaica.

Okay, full disclosure on this. I am the biggest sucker in the universe for stories about reincarnation (especially if it involves finding a soulmate and ughhhh).

So I went into this book pretty excited. It was also my first A.S. King book and I've been hearing a lot of good things about her writing around the blogosphere.

But truth be told, this wasn't really what I was expecting. Not that I could necessarily tell you what exactly I was expecting. But this wasn't it.

The concept is great, but I never felt that the storylines really ever fully intertwined cohesively. You had Emer's story, Saffron's story and then snippets here and there about her time as various dogs. It idea was cool, but it never really flowed the way I think it could have.

There are some really cool bits throughout, though. Emer's history and backstory are sufficiently tragic and horrifying. It's Ireland and then the Caribbean at a time that isn't often written about. Or, at least, I haven't read much about it. It's also really close, chronologically, to the time period that Assassin's Creed IV is set--complete with your pirates and everything. And since I'm in the middle of playing that game right now too, there was a neat crossover.

Both Emer and Saffron have their share of hardships to deal with--and the issues surrounding family abuse, pressures and rape do not pull any punches. Though I feel like some of Saffron's identity issues could've been explored in more depth. Later on in the book she talks about Emer as though she's a separate part of herself--which I thought was a neat idea, but it was never really explored and kind of brought up as an afterthought?

As things get rolling for Saffron, she struggles with the idea of what to do with herself afterwards. After she's satisfied Emer's desire for treasure and the like. This idea of who is she without this quest? Without this drive?  It was another really cool idea, but it lacked the development and depth in the final execution. Which is a shame.

Overall, I think more development could be my theme for this book. I liked it well enough, but it always fell just short of my expectations and desires. It did some neat things--the prologue making an appearance word-for-word near the end again, for example--but it never totally enthralled me. It was just kind of mediocre throughout.

If you want a reincarnation story that is a little more swoon-worthy (and totally a guilty pleasure) I'd recommend Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn instead.