April 29, 2013

Review: Rotten

I read ‘Trapped’ by Northrop a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. I was excited to see he had a new book, and it was about a dog.

I love dogs. I have two myself, and they are so spoiled, and I would not trade them in for the world. I was pleased to see a YA novel that brings the love of dogs to a new level.

Title: Rotten
Author: Michael Northrop
ISBN: 9780545495875
Pages: 256
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Available: NOW at your local book store or library
Source: Netgalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

Jimmer "JD" Dobbs is back in town after spending the summer "upstate." No one believes his story about visiting his aunt, and it's pretty clear that he has something to hide. It's also pretty clear that his mom made a new friend while he was away---a rescued Rottweiler that JD immediately renames Johnny Rotten (yes, after that guy in the Sex Pistols). Both tough but damaged, JD and Johnny slowly learn to trust each other, but their newfound bond is threatened by a treacherous friend and one snap of Johnny's powerful jaws. As the secrets JD has tried so hard to keep under wraps start to unravel, he suddenly has something much bigger to worry about: saving his dog.

My Thoughts:

I loved this book. I absolutely loved it.


Because I love a story about a boy and his dog. I love a story about a boy, his dog, and fighting for its right to live.

That is what Northrop delivers in this novel.

I knew from the moment JD returned from “upstate” and met the dog that this was going to be a symbolic story of redemption, for both of them.

And it was.

The author has paced the plot of this novel nicely, introducing JD as he is returning from “upstate,” which leaves readers with questions on what he was really doing during his summer vacation. Let me just say that JD won’t be writing about his activities in his English essay.

But there is more to the story than JD. There is Johnny (Johnny Rotten) (JR). He is the real star of this novel, for me. He helps JD learn responsibility, love, friendship, and loyalty. All the things a boy should learn from taking care of his dog.

What JD learns the most in this novel is how to remain true to himself, his family, his friends. He has to fight for himself as well as for Johnny. After all, there is another who is out to “get” them both.

There were moments of this book when I was upset. I know in a lot of dog stories the animal dies. It’s a fact and I’ve come to terms with it. But, while reading this book I cannot count the number of times I said to my husband, “The author better not kill this dog.”

And I meant it.

I became that invested in Johnny. I will write no more so that I do not give away an important plot point.

The title ‘Rotten’ really speaks volumes. Both JD and Johnny are cast aside in their worlds for being just that, rotten, when they are anything but. What they need is for someone to take a chance to trust and care about them. This is what ties them together and makes them perfect characters for one another.

Let me not forget JD’s mom. Usually I find that parents as characters get in the way of the plot of YA novels. That was not the case here. She needed to be here, and she enhanced the story. Actually, all of the adult characters did.

The secondary characters in the novel are there to help enhance JD. None of them steal the spotlight. That’s Johnny’s job. But they do allow JD to grow as a character. They hold him responsible for his actions, past and present, and they offer guidance and friendship when he needs it most.

The author has presented a best-case scenario about a boy, his dog, and the friendship they develop together. Have I mentioned how much I loved this book?

I don’t recommend it to just male readers. This is a great book for anyone who loves dogs or loves a good boy and his dog story.

What is your favorite pet tale? Share below. I am always looking for more to add to my TBR pile.
Happy Reading!

-      The Hodgenator
My pups, Katniss & Knightley

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