Monday, August 2, 2021

Review: D-39 A Robodog's Journey by Irene Latham


by Irene Latham
Charlesbridge Publishing
Middle Grade Science Fiction
272 pages
ages 8 to 12

Klynt's days on her Papa's farm are the all the same, even during wartime. Until the robodog, that is. A dystopic but heartwarming novel-in-verse perfect for fans of Pax by Sara Pennypacker.

In a future United States, civil war is devastating a country on its last legs. On one side: the Patriots. On the other: President Vex's corrupt government. In the middle: everybody else, just trying to survive. The war is going from bad to worse, but out in the sparsely populated Worselands, twelve-year-old Klynt Tovis doesn't see much of it.

Instead, Klynt spends most of her long summer days bored, or restoring artifacts in her Museum of Fond Memories. Real pet dogs are a thing of the past: after they were found to be carriers of a sickness the government ordered them all killed. But one day an incredible antique shows up at the farm: a D-39 robodog, "Real as a dog can be!" Klynt is overjoyed, but the good luck doesn't last. When the war makes its way into the empty Worselands, she and D-39 find themselves thrown into an epic journey for survival and hope.

Through the twists and turns of this riveting read, Irene Latham deftly shows how kindness can appear in unexpected places during uncertain times.

GOODREADS   /     AMAZON   /    B&N    /    BOOK DEPOSITORY   /     KOBO


Although not really written in verse, this is novel dives into deep thoughts surrounding life, courage, and family.

Klynt lives on a farm in the Worselands. She hasn't seen her mother in a long time, since she's working in the underground to save dogs against a tyranny. Her father is a farmer and does his best to raise Klynt and keep his farm going. While Klynt enjoys her hobby of restoring artifacts for her personal museum, she's bored, especially when the government decides to close down the schools. When  Robodog crosses her path, a ray of sunshine seeps into her life, but it only lasts a little while. The government keeps tightening the rules and soon, she finds herself on a journey to survive.

This book supposedly is written in verse, but this isn't quite the case. It's more like a few paragraphs of the story on each page for about half a page. The rest of the page is kept blank, while words from the last sentence are used as a title to the next paragraphs on the next page. And it continues like this without any poetic feeling. Instead, it comes across as a telling with dialogue in italics. Although I wasn't a fan of the format in the beginning (choppy), it wasn't really bad, either, and interesting enough to keep me reading the entire way through.

Fans of slow, deeper reads will like this one. There are a lot of thoughts from Klynt's end, and the book goes more through daily happenings before the 'journey' begins. Even then, it's not super fast-paced, but gives time for the situation to sink in. The problems Klynt and her family face are never fully explained, but drop in with bits and pieces to make the danger the war imposes obvious. In general, there is background information missing, and yet, this doesn't disturb the read, since it is about Klynt's courage and determination to overcome the problems. Family love is also important in these pages.

This is an original read with a lot of goodness for the right reader, but I'm not exactly sure who it is. The deep thoughts and difficult situations make it better for a young adult, but the word use and interests of Klynt keep it at a middle grade level. As an adult, I did find it entertaining, but my tween daughter wasn't quite as impressed. 

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