Wednesday, 11 October 2017

W. Bruce Cameron's "A Dog's Purpose"

Cameron’s ‘A dog’s purpose’ is one of those books I am going to add a warning to. If you really like dogs, you are probably going to cry a lot in this book. I did. I had also seen the movie before reading this, which, again, I cried all the way through. Maybe that says something more about me than the writing, but you’ll have to read it to find out.

So this book follows a dog and his perspective on people, life and purpose. Now if you have seen the movie and not read the book, you know all the parts I am removing from this plot line. However, I don’t feel I can give everything away. So, let’s move on and if you want more, just let me know and I will be happy to share it.

The dog’s perspective for an entire novel was very interesting to me. It really gave you a taste of how a dog may see or value things; though it does suggest that this particular dog is possibly more special than any other and for the sake of purpose and meaning has created a more sentient dog than others met in the novel. I feel a little saddened by this idea, given I do love dogs, but for the purpose of the novel and what Cameron wanted to bring through the writing, I also understand it. 

This also means that settings and characters are given the dog’s own understanding and focus. Whilst the reader will see other people’s conversations, there is a bit for the reader to work out for themselves. For even though the dog doesn’t understand some behaviours, speech or moments, the reader is able to piece things together. This layers the writing and experience of the book for readers which is, again, a lovely touch. 

I also found a great experience in being attached to the dog more than to the humans in this story. You are shown how much this dog enjoys the humans in its life (and not just because of the food he gets offered), but you also gain a distance from the humans to really gain a feeling of what a dog may think about or go through in regards to its own experiences, and how a dog could relate to humans dependent on those experiences. Thinking on this, it is a good twist to think of the meaning of life and purpose from a perspective that is not coming from a human or saturated with the idea of self as much as a dog (perhaps, given your perspective of the novel). 

Cameron writes very solidly and the book’s concept is a fresh take on an old theme. I recommend this for anyone, unless you are such a dog lover that you can’t handle crying on almost every page. But it is a very beautiful story, so maybe don’t take my warnings to heart too much, it is worth the read.

4 / 5

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