Friday, August 28, 2015

Review!! The Dog Master by W. Bruce Cameron (by New Guest Reviewer Colleen!!)

The Dog Master
by W. Bruce Cameron
Genre: Literary Fiction

Set against the most dramatic time in our species' history, The Dog Master tells the story of one tribe's struggle for survival and one extraordinary man's bond with a wolf-a friendship that changed mankind forever

Thirty thousand years ago, ice was storming the planet. Among the species forced out of the trees and onto the steppes by the advancing cold was modern man, who was both predator and prey.

No stranger to the experiences that make us human-a mother's love and a father's betrayal, tribal war and increasing famine, political intrigue and forbidden love, joy and hope and devastating loss-our ancestors competed for scant resources in a brutal landscape.

Mankind stood on the cold brink of extinction...but they had a unique advantage over other species, a new technology-domesticated wolves.

Only a set of extraordinary circumstances could have transformed one of these fierce creatures into a hunting companion, a bodyguard, a soldier, and a friend. The Dog Master by W. Bruce Cameron is an evocative glimpse of prehistory, an emotional coming of age saga, a thrilling tale of survival against all odds, and the exciting, imaginative story of the first dog.

Reviewed by Colleen!!

My Rating: 5 Coffee Cups!!

I originally chose this book because of my love for dogs and thought it would be interesting to hear someone’s take on the evolution of these amazing creatures we share our lives with. I was also curious about how someone would write a “novel of the first dog” because it seemed to be a rather challenging topic to approach. After a few chapters I found myself amazed at the job W. Bruce Cameron did with telling a story like this. Not only did he do an incredible job in proposing a theory about how a wolf became the first dog, but he also wove a story full of characters that I got emotionally attached to and whose lives I felt I was a part of. 

The Dog Master starts off with a modern day professor who is interested in discovering how the first dog came to be and it transitions into a story that takes place 30,000 years ago. The story can be viewed as either the professor’s theory or as what the actual historical account is, which the professor nor any other human will ever know about. There are several tribes introduced, each of which has different lifestyles, views, beliefs, etc. and some even harbor hostility towards one another. The story goes between different narrations, one of which is of a man who discovers an injured mother wolf and pups and how his bond with them grows and how he helps to usher the first dog into existence. Throughout the book the narrations of different characters become intertwined with one another and form one cohesive story which takes us through the evolution of a wolf to the first dog. 

In the beginning I was a little overwhelmed with all the characters that were being introduced and I was concerned it would become hard to keep track of everyone. That was not the case. Cameron did a brilliant job of making each character memorable and I was easily able to transition from one character’s narration to another. He was also able to portray the point of view of the wolves perfectly and made their thoughts believable and showed them as being intelligent and sharing similarities with humans such as reasoning, instinct, and emotion. He forms bonds between humans and animals through similar experiences and shows that we really are not much different from one another. Cameron starts by showing us the evolution of the first dog but what becomes noticeable throughout the book is how he is also showing us an evolution in humans. As wolves grow to become the first dogs, people also grow to become more accepting of other humans and animals and we see that not only did humans teach animals but that animals also taught humans. Cameron quotes Dr. Temple Grandin by using his famous line “animals make us human.” 

This is a book that once you finish it you wish you were still reading it. It pulled me in from the beginning and by the end I was frantically reading with tears welling up in my eyes because of my urge to know what was going to happen and what the outcome would be for the characters, both human and animal, that I had grown to love. I also want to give credit to Cameron for his Afterword in the book where he brings us back to reality and makes us stop to think about the drastic evolution of wolf to dog and the magnitude of it all. He also cleared up any little instances in the book that I was curious about, such as why the language of the tribes was so understandable and similar to modern English (which I won’t give the answer to, you will just have to read to find out!) Cameron puts the overall idea of the book perfectly when he states “The Dog Master is a work of fiction based on an indisputable fact: dogs are our companions, their fates inexplicable bound to ours.” As I said in the beginning, I originally chose this book because of my love for dogs, but it ended up to be more than just the story of dogs. It is also a story of humans and humanity and the bond we share with an animal that has grown from being a companion to being a part of our families.

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