Book Review: Fifteen Dogs by Andre Alexis

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Reviewed by: Savannah
Genre: Fiction
Format: Softcover
Page count: 160 Pages
Rating: 4/5 stars
In stock: Yes

I really enjoyed this book and it was a very quick read which I definitely always appreciate. This book is, as the title implies about fifteen dogs. But if you were hoping for a more in depth synopsis I will include, like always, the Goodreads one:

” I wonder”, said Hermes, “what it would be like if animals had human intelligence.”
” I’ll wager a year’s servitude, answered Apollo, that animals – any animal you like – would be even more unhappy than humans are, if they were given human intelligence.”

And so it begins: a bet between the gods Hermes and Apollo leads them to grant human consciousness and language to a group of dogs overnighting at a Toronto vet­erinary clinic. Suddenly capable of more complex thought, the pack is torn between those who resist the new ways of thinking, preferring the old ‘dog’ ways, and those who embrace the change. The gods watch from above as the dogs venture into their newly unfamiliar world, as they become divided among themselves, as each struggles with new thoughts and feelings. Wily Benjy moves from home to home, Prince becomes a poet, and Majnoun forges a relationship with a kind couple that stops even the Fates in their tracks.

André Alexis’s contemporary take on the apologue offers an utterly compelling and affecting look at the beauty and perils of human consciousness. By turns meditative and devastating, charming and strange, Fifteen Dogs shows you can teach an old genre new tricks.”

First off, I shall review the physical book, because that seems to be my thing now? The book is not bound very tightly so it doesn’t feel like the spine needs to be cracked when reading it. Although the pages don’t really just fall open. The actual pages though, are what I would like to discuss. They have such a new texture that I’ve never encountered before. It was very intriguing as it’s bumpy but smooth.

If you like dogs you will probably really enjoy this book, as it’s about dogs and gives an interesting insight into dog’s minds, even with human intelligence. If that isn’t enough of a selling point then I don’t really know what else to say…

This book does get kind of sad as all of the dogs do die (spoiler but not because it’s the premise of the book) and you may or may not be feeling the Marley and Me feels. So just be warned that you may or may not end up feeling feels, I don’t know how emotional you are.

In a sense this book is pretty metaphorical, as the author makes a lot of points about humans and ‘the human condition’ but obviously adapted into dog ways. For example, there are a whole group of dogs who don’t like the adjustment and just continue to try to live as ‘normal dogs’ and have strong opinions as to how all the dogs should live. Just as there are groups of people out there who say all humans should live a certain way. But overall, this book was really good and I won’t be mad if it wins Canada Reads 2017. It was a delightful read and had some good messages in it.

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