Saturday 7 November 2020

Book Review - Storm Watcher

Title: Storm Watcher

Author: Maria V Snyder 

Publisher: Leap Books, LLC 

Release Date: 5 May 2013 

ISBN-13: 978-1616030339


Luke Riley is lost. His mother's recent death has set Luke and his family adrift. Even though his father, twin brothers, and their three Bloodhounds are search and rescue volunteers, they have been unable to rescue themselves and become a family again. The summer after sixth grade looms in Luke's mind as a long, lonely three months where the only thing he can look forward to is watching The Weather Channel. Luke is fascinated with the weather, but since his mother's death in a storm, he is also terrified. Even the promised 13th birthday present of a Bloodhound puppy fails to lift Luke's spirits. He would rather have a different breed - a petite Papillon, but his father insists he get a Bloodhound.

When Luke decides to get the Bloodhound from Willajean, a dog breeder who owns Storm Watcher Kennel, he works out a deal to help at her kennel in exchange for the expensive dog. Thrilled to have a summer with a purpose, Luke befriends Willajean's daughter, Megan and together they plan how Luke can get a Papillon puppy instead of a Bloodhound. But nothing seems to work as they struggle with stubborn fathers, summer storms, unhelpful siblings, and hidden guilt. Can one little white dog really save both families?

 My Review

I have been a fan of Maria V Snyder's for years, having read the Poison Study series, I had never heard of this short novel before, but my mum received a signed copy and was awesome enough to lend it to me. Being busy at work, it's sat on my shelf for at least a month, but I finally got some down time today so I picked it up. At only 184 pages I knew it wouldn't take me more than a couple of hours, so was perfect to dip into. 

Luke has recently lost his mum and his whole life has changed, his brothers constantly pick on him, his dad is always busy and his friends don't know how to act around him, fearing a long summer ahead of him on his own, he's not holding out much hope for anything. Then he makes a deal with Willajean, a local dog breeder, if he works on her farm with her 30+ dogs for the summer, he can have a puppy of his own for free. Suddenly the summer is looking more interesting, especially when he meets her daughter - Megan. The pair strike up a friendship and Luke is learning a lot about dogs and about himself. I actually really liked that Snyder kept the pair as friends, there isn't the complication of a romance mixed into the story, just friends being there for each other.

Luke is obsessed with the weather and has a fear of storms, it's something that he has always been afraid of, a fear which only got worse after his mum was killed in a car accident caused by a lightning strike. There is a lot about weather in this book, and Snyder's past as a meteorologist clearly shines through, it wasn't too heavy or in your face though, just neatly weaved within the story. 

The characters are all very believable and you see them grow and develop over the story, I have always found Snyder to be an excellent creator of realistic characters. I think my favourite was Megan, she had more to her than originally meets the eye.

My only criticism of this book was that the ending felt quite abrupt, I honestly think that this book could have done with another 50-100 pages to fully wrap it up. I wanted more from the all and to know what came next. 

It's quite a simple story, it's aimed at middle grade - 9-14, so there are obviously limitations to the story and writing, but even so there is enough content there to create interest and there are plenty of messages and things to take away from the story. 

I would recommend this as a nice simple easy read that will sweep you away for a couple of hours, but it's definitely not on the same level as her other work. 

 My Rating


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