Monday, June 19, 2017

The DogsThe Dogs by Allan Stratton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Category: Young Adult
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Paranormal
Content: Clean

Mom and I have been on the run for years. Every time he catches up with us, we move to a new place and start over.

But this place is different.

This place is full of secrets. And they won't leave me alone.

Cameron and his mother have moved four times in five years. His mother has kept them on the run, hiding from his father whom she says is hunting them. Cameron was only 9 when he last saw his father and he wonders if his mother is telling the truth about his father or if she's just crazy. After seeing a mysterious car parked out on the street several times, his mother decides it's time to move again because she is convinced it's Cameron's dad. They move several hundred miles away to a dilapidated farm house in the middle of a corn field. Cameron isn't happy to be moving out to the middle of nowhere, but he soon finds some disturbing drawings in the basement that seem to have been made by a boy who lived there long ago, and suddenly he is occupied with unraveling the mystery of what happened to him.

Out of the corner of my eye, I catch something moving by the barn.

When I look, it disappears. Wait. There it is again, at the cornfield.

Some movement, some thing. 

The Dogs is a ghost story, but it's also a story about domestic abuse and the aftermath of it. Cameron is affected by the life he's lived on the run and by things he remembers from his past. He's grown up with a mom who is paranoid that his father is going to catch up to them, and it shows. Cameron begins seeing the ghost of the boy named Jacky who lived in the house, but disappeared back in the 60s. He is convinced that Jacky and his mother were victims of domestic abuse and he sets out to prove it. But is Jacky's ghost really there or is Cameron just imagining him? You are left wondering a lot whether Cameron is really seeing and talking to a ghost or whether he is just mentally ill because of the trauma he's experienced in his life.

I liked Cameron as a character. His behavior wasn't always likable. He said some mean, sarcastic things to his mom, and kind of blamed her for their situation at times. He also wasn't very nice to the one boy at school who befriended him, but it fit the fact that he was a teen boy who was confused and hurting emotionally, so I think he was very realistically drawn. I picked this book up because it looked like a good creepy, thriller with ghosts added to the mix. While it's not all that creepy, I did like it a lot and I thought it packed a good emotional punch.

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