Arts

Book Review: A Dog’s Purpose

March 17th, 2017

A Dog's Purpose book cover

Here’s another story talking about the life of a fictional dog in a fictional town with fictional humans. Let’s lie down in bed with a cup of sleepy time tea to read this because the dog won’t die in the end, right? Maybe this time it will just be sunshine and rainbows where the story ends happily for once.

Queue emotional tears and hysterical sobbing here.

A Dog’s Purpose is a novel written by American novelist and humorist Bruce Cameron, published by Forge Books in 2010. The movie adaptation of the novel was set for a January 27 release this year, but the premiere was cancelled due to a controversial video that circulated online. The novel follows the multiple lives of a dog and his search for his purpose in the world. He starts off as a dog named Toby, a wild stray mutt whose family is taken in by a woman named Senora. When Senora was arrested for illegally running a shelter, Toby was put to death after being transferred to a pound. He returns as a puppy, which confuses and excites him, asking himself what gives his life meaning. This doesn’t stop him from looking at the world with a funny, quirky, and curious lens.

I cannot begin to explain and describe how I feel about the novel. In a nutshell, I cried, laughed, and smiled while devouring the book. Bruce Cameron doesn’t fail to entertain as a humorist and as a novelist: his writing style is right to the point, but fun and almost childish, yet still appeals to adults because it deals with adult themes like death and sex. You are immediately immersed into the dog’s perspective from page one. The humour mixed with the dog’s naivety makes even the most serious of character experiences seem lighthearted, and yet still manages to poke me in the nerves continuously, while making me cry like I had chopped too many onions.

Every scene is perfectly constructed from a dog’s point of view, and it wasn’t hard for me to picture and follow along with everything. Cameron’s descriptions are also extremely clever and funny.

The only quirk that I have with the book is how it leaves the protagonist’s breed too ambiguous. It makes sense because it is written from a dog’s point of view after all, but sometimes it takes me three to four pages to finally get what breed the dog transformed into. I love ambiguity in descriptions when it pertains to a character’s voice and perspective, but this is taking things a bit too far, and I wish Cameron’s writing could be a bit clearer on this aspect.

Seriously, go read this book, regardless of whatever qualms, anger, and dislike you have with the movie. I absolutely enjoyed the novel as a bedtime read, even if I went to sleep with a wet pillowcase every few nights. No big deal.

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