I love the cover art on this one. It also has a fab website.
“You will see,” he yelled, jumping from the brush, “how true love lasts! You will see how real love spans time and distance we know nothing of!”
He rushed forward then, and shook a small purse toward her. From it, came a fine powder that covered Emer’s hair and face. She reached up and wiped her eyes clear, confused.
“What are you at?” she asked, spitting dust from her lips.
He stood with his arms and face raised to the sky. “I curse you with the power of every Spirit who ever knew love! I curse you to one hundred lives as the bitch you are and hope wild dogs tear your heart into the state you’ve left mine!” he screamed, and then began chanting in a foreign language.
Still brushing dust from her hair, Emer took aim with her gun and fired.
As she watched him fall, she felt a burning prod in her back and stumbled for a second – long enough to see that the Frenchman had not been all dead – and long enough to see he was covered in stray pieces of the strange dust his first mate had thrown at her.
She tried to fall as near to Seanie as possible and managed to get close enough to reach out and grab his cold hand. She took her dying breath lying halfway between her lover and her killer, covered in the dust of one hundred dogs, knowing she was the only person on the planet who knew what was buried beneath the chilly sand ten yards away.
Three hundred years and one hundred lives as a dog later, Emer Morrisey, girl pirate, is finally reincarnated as a human. And she wants her treasure.
The Dust of 100 Dogs has three major storylines: Emer's childhood during Cromwell's conquest of Ireland, her true love, her years as a pirate, and, of course, her death; Emer's 1972 reincarnation and life as Saffron Adams; and the story of Fred Livingston, a man who lives in Jamaica. Interspersed throughout the book are Dog Facts sections, in which Saffron explains different aspects of dog life and psychology.
There's a lot to talk about here, but the book isn't due out until February, so I'm going to tiptoe my way through this spoiler minefield and just mention a few things. I think, for one, that it would be a super read for book groups -- I have loads of no-right-answer questions. For instance, I wondered if Emer's perspective would have changed a bit more by the time she became Saffron, considering she'd lived three hundred years between her human lives, but then it occurred to me that living all that time as another species would have maybe made her hold her human qualities and personality all the closer... I have lots more questions, but they're all very spoiler-y.
My big question, though, is this: Is this really a YA book? It seemed to me that if it'd been published as an adult book, it would definitely have been viewed as a crossover, but that it doesn't really have the feel of a teen novel. It think it's partly because Saffron is never really a teenager -- she is born with her memories intact, so even as a baby, she is an adult. And Emer, though she dies as a teenager, for all intents and purposes is an adult pretty early on in her life**. And Fred Livingston is an adult.
The subject matter doesn't pertain to my YA or not YA question -- there's no topic here that I haven't found in other YA books -- it's the tone and the perspective(s). Then again, the genre is constantly evolving and expanding. Maybe in the future the line between YA and adult will get more and more blurred. I'd like that. Like I said, once it's available, I'm totally going to try it on my book group kids -- they're almost all older teens who are reading both YA and adult books, and I'm really curious to see what they think.
The Dust of 100 Dogs is entertaining, multi-layered, smart and definitely gripping (sorry if this is TMI, but I had to pee for the better part of the last quarter of the book, but somehow, I just COULD NOT put it down and run for the bathroom). Though the book begins with Emer's death, I had no idea how she got to that point, and I didn't know what would happen when (or if) Saffron finally made it to Jamaica. I find it impressive that A. S. King began the book with the death of the main character and still succeeded in writing a suspenseful story.
*Read the whole thing here.
**SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER
I think the turning point was the night that she killed her first man and was raped by another. I thought that scene was quite well done, by the way -- by the time the rape happened, I was in a similar place emotionally as Emer, so dazed by the previous encounter that it... just... happened.
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