Sep 9, 2007

The Plague Dogs

by Richard Adams

Two hapless dogs escape from an animal research lab into the barren wilderness of England's Lake District, where they take up company with a wild fox. A journalist finds out about them and spreads inflamed reports that the dogs carry bubonic plague, causing the whole countryside to rise up against them in fear and horror. There are two strong appeals to The Plague Dogs: the fast-paced adventure of the dogs fleeing for their lives; and the wonderful characterization and word play that bring them to life. The two dogs are a large black mongrel that suffered psychological tests by repeated near-drowning, who still tries to hold firm to his belief in man, and a small fox terrier full of humor and wit who underwent brain-surgery experiments that make him hallucinate. The mongrel's sober speech and the terrier's wandering hallucinatory nonsense are offset by the language of the fox, who speaks an Upper Tyneside dialect known as Geordie. It is the dialog between the three that gives the story its life: full of pathos, humor and courage.

Rating: 4/5                    389 pages, 1978

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  1. Oooh, this sounds great. Richard Adams is great at characterization, isn't he? I'll have to look for this one.

  2. I love how he characterizes animals, but somehow his treatment of people has left me unmoved. Tried reading Shardik, and just couldn't get into it. (I know, it's got bears, but people are really the main figures for the first part, at least as far as I got).


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