I feel like I usually only write glowing reviews—mainly because I only read books I’m fairly certain that I will like. Also, I always feel slightly guilty writing about how much I hated a novel. I know firsthand how much time and effort went into writing and publishing any story, and also, I’ve had “if you’ve got nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” drilled into my head from infancy. Plus, it seems like if you hate a book, you could just stop reading it.
But unfortunately I have some sort of disease that compels me to finish a book, even if I hate it at the first chapter. I think there are two reasons for that:
1) My mom forcing me to finish everything on my plate because of the children starving in Africa (which shaped my young psyche into one that cannot leave things half done, a problem that has mushroomed to include cakes and cases of beer)
2) My eternal, long-suffering sense of optimism, where I continually assure myself that the next chapter will really be a turning point, transforming the novel into something complex and thought-provoking, life-altering, and super awesome.
No matter what’s to blame, I sure didn’t like A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron (Macmillan/2010).
Now, I don’t know a lot about Cameron, except that he wrote 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, which I’ve never read, but I know that they made a tv show out of it, and the whoever played the dad died, and he was on some late ‘70’s sitcom who’s name I can’t recall.
So why he decided to segway from teenagers to animal books (he has some other recently released title called Emory’s Gift which is about a bear, which also I haven’t read, but I’m going to make an executive decision that it probably isn’t much good either) I haven’t the faintest. I should have been wary, since they were giving away hardcover editions on Shelf Awareness, instead of galleys or sample chapters.
A Dog’s Purpose, it turns out, is a combination of Nicholas Sparks and Marley and Me. And maybe a little Thomas Kinkaid as well, just because I hate him too.
Told from the perspective of a dog, there is a lot more butt sniffing and mating and animals in heat than I really wanted to be involved in. I guess Cameron could be commended for keeping his character believable, except I don’t believe even my dogs are that simple-minded and inane as his protagonist Bailey (well, maybe my little one). Annoyingly, Bailey also is reincarnated several times, sometimes as a purebred, sometimes a mutt, sometimes a male, sometimes a female, but always boring and slightly stupid. I couldn’t wait for him/her to find her purpose and die for good. And imagine how disappointing it was to find out that Bailey-whose-name-keeps-changing’s purpose was to sort out his former owner’s love life. If Cameron starts telling people he invented a new genre I’m going to freak out.
If you’re looking for a good dog-centric fiction novel, I suggest The Art of Racing in the Rain (HarperCollins/2009), or The Dogs of Babel (Bay Back Books/2004), both of which are excellent.
oh wat? You don’t take posed photographs of your dogs as if they’re an old-fashioned couple?