Saturday, 12 October 2013

Book Review - Soldier Dog

Title: Soldier Dog
Author: Sam Angus
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Release Date: 5 July 2012
ISBN-13: 978-1447220053
ASIN: B0089YAG80

He’ll always be true, faithful and brave, even to the last beat of his heart.
It’s 1917. In the trenches of France, miles from home, Stanley is a boy fighting a man’s war. He is a dog handler, whose dog must be so loyal that he will cross no-man’s-land alone under heavy fire to return to Stanley’s side, carrying a message that could save countless lives. But this journey is fraught with danger, and only the bravest will survive.
As the fighting escalates and Stanley experiences the true horror of war, he comes to realize that the loyalty of his dog is the only thing he can rely on.

My Review
This is another one of the books I have to read for 'Book Day' at work. I have to admit I wasn't really looking forward to this one, I tend to read to escape the real world, I prefer fantasy or dystopian etc. Books like this are just a little bit too real for me. But I tried to stay open minded, and I have to say that it is very well written and I couldn't help but like Stanley. 
Set in 1917 the First World War is in full swing. Stanley's big brother Tom is away fighting in the war and Stanley is stuck at home with his Da, who is unresponsive, uncaring and occassionally aggressive. When they get in an argument over a puppy Stanley decides to run away to find Tom, but that means signing up to join the war efforts. Underage and all alone Stanley heads out to Estaples where he is given a dog to train.
I knew very little about the Dog Service from WW1, in fact I hadn't ever really considered it, so in that respect this book is also a little bit educational, and I was fascinated by the whole operation and training of the dogs.
This book was well written, the pacing was good and the characters very identifiable and realistic, in every respect this was a 'good' book. But it's also rather depressing. The war feels realistic too and I felt a little bit uncomfortable reading it. The book made me feel, I wanted to help Stanley and all the other men and animals. It made the horrors of war come to life and that shows that the writing is good. I respect everyone who fought in the Wars, and I have massive gratitude for them and know it is important to learn about it, but I read to leave the this world behind, so I struggled a bit to get into the book. 
This is the sort of book that I think would be good on the curriculum, I did A-Level English and we did about the war and this would be an interesting book to study, and give a new angle.
I would recommend this to 13 years plus, and actually think adults would probably get more from it. 
I am glad I have read it and think that Sam Angus is a talented writer.

My Rating

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