Man is not dog’s best friend in this animal dystopian sequel.
Max and his companions are adrift—literally—after escaping from vengeful Dolph and his wolves, as well as the megalomaniacal Chairman. Hungry and thirsty, they find refuge on a stranded steamboat with other dogs, careful not to upset the pack dynamics or challenge the gruff but brave alpha, Boss. But Max still yearns to find his young owners, or “pack leaders,” Charlie and Emma, and an unfortunate encounter with a group of human arsonist-robbers propels Max and the steamboat inhabitants back into action. Following his visions and the advice of new friends, Max embarks on a journey to understand why people abandoned their pets and where the humans might have gone, following the scent through a zoo and an abandoned city and into a mad scientist’s lair. With reluctance and dimwitted cheer, respectively, Rocky, the hungry, whining dachshund, and Gizmo, the overly perky Yorkie, follow. Max’s prophetic dreams and the cataclysmic effects of medical experimentation on animals are both too convenient and handled more subtly in other, human-protagonist dystopian stories. Implausible but entertaining action sequences leaven clumsy exposition, while animal behavior coexists uneasily with narrative need.
Dystopian training wheels for the Warriors set. (Dystopian adventure. 8-12)