When the world goes to the dogs, one loyal canine tries to find his human family in this dystopian series starter.
Max wakes up in a cage without food or water, plagued by nightmares of a spreading darkness. Clever though cowardly Rocky frees Max and reluctantly joins him on a hair-raising adventure, fleeing wolves, crazed communists and the “Corporation” and seeking their owners. Max, Rocky and Gizmo, a later addition to the team, soon fall into typical quest roles as the muscle, the brains and the heart, respectively. Their obstacles are also standard dystopian ones: finding food and transport, fighting off gangs and doggedly seeking remnants from their former lives. Where the humans went and why they abandoned their pets remain unanswered, so as to necessitate a sequel. The choice of a dog as a narrator distinguishes Holt’s debut from an increasingly crowded dystopian market but also introduces narrative weaknesses. Max and his companions comprehend electronics, improvise tools and begin rebuilding civilization, yet they also drink toilet water and enjoy a good chew toy. Resolving these incongruences may be easier for younger readers familiar with the Redwall and Warriors series, or the classic Homeward Bound.
A post-apocalyptic Animal Farm for young readers. (Fantasy. 10-14)