The Plague Dogs - book review

The Plague Dogs - book review

a book review of the book 'the plague dogs' published by richard adams

published on January 23, 20215 reads 5 readers 0 completed

The Review

The Plague Dogs is a novel written by Richard Adams. It was published in 1977 and is 508 pages long.

In an animal testing facility tucked away in the corners of a small farming town, two dogs by the names of Rowf and Snitter escape. The only way for them to survive the wild is to learn how to trust again. After taking out a ewe on one of their first nights they find the companionship of a tod. Together with the tod teaching them how to hunt and Rowf and Snitter taking out the ewes, the actions of the two dogs leads to a whole series of newspaper headlines that involves the government, a winter wear company, the army and the black plague.

The main message of the book has to do with propaganda and how deceptive journalism can be. Like how one of the main characters, Digby Driver, a journalist, often would trick people into saying things that told a selective truth and ended up spreading the rumor that almost got the plague dogs hunted down by the army, in real life journalism can also be very deceptive. This may not have been the message intended by the author, but it is undeniably the main component of the story.

Although there were many passages I liked, my favourite has to be this one, on page 479:
“What’s out there Snitter, in the water?”
“There’s an island,” said Snitter desperately. “Didn’t you know? A wonderful island. The Star Dog runs it. They’re all dogs there. They have great, warm houses with piles of meat and bones, and they have-they have splendid cat-chasing competitions. Men aren’t allowed there unless the dogs like them and let them in.”
“I never knew. Just out there, is it, really?”

For context, in this passage the characters are on a beach. They’re desperate and have been starving. Snitter has had experiments done to his brain and thus what he says is sometimes due to hallucinations or pure confusion. The Star Dog is the dog’s view of god, the creator of all life and the world. It’s likely that the island Snitter speaks of here was nothing more than a hallucination or trick of the mind, but I felt that it truly conveyed the hope the dogs had despite their bleak circumstances.

I enjoyed the book because it was undeniably well written and fits into my somewhat niche interest in darker books with talking animals as the main characters. The author makes the book feel really involved and personal because at times he writes directly to the reader. The aspect of survival kept me held in due to the intriguing nature of whether the dogs would make it or not, while still keeping up an aspect of hope with Snitter’s ramblings. The intended emotions are powerful and well conveyed and the use of animal characters was an excellent storytelling tool and helped me relate to the characters.

I give this book a 9/10 because although I really liked it and it’s written spectacularly, I felt the ending did not give enough insight into what happened to the characters, which is critical in such a long novel.
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