Review: Bren MacDibble – The Dog Runner

The Dog Runner
Bren MacDibble

Ella and Emery have a long way to go to get to Christmas’s place. Armed with their five big doggos and a dry-land dogsled they must head away through rough terrain to reach the relative safety and food of Emery’s mum’s place – but will their other parents ever catch up?

This is another wonderful, thought provoking novel from Bren MacDibble. Her first novel, How to Bee, examined how a world without bees would survive. This novel takes this a step further, envisioning a future where grasses and grains have been lost to a deadly fungus. This novel is probably another candidate for a upper primary school reader novel and thought-provoker.

The story slips out in nibbles, teasing the reader along even as Ella and Emery make it further and further away from the city. I was occasionally irritated by the way Ella ‘spoke’, but the action kept me reading. The way this is written, Ella could be a boy or a girl, and I think that makes it easier for any reader to empathize and truly consider her circumstances. This is a really possible future for Australia and the world – we are so reliant on grains for basic food and feeding livestock. Have we learnt nothing from the Irish Great Famine?

If this novel does nothing else, hopefully you enjoy the fast paced travel and fraught hideaways of Ella and Emery. They are brave kids, and I think the novel is really realistic in the way Ella reacts to the world falling apart around her. If Ella had been ok with eating dead humans all of a sudden, I would have been really concerned!

I’m giving this 4 stars, and I am looking forward to when I have a younger reader in this age bracket to read and review it with me.

Allen & Unwin | 4th February 2019 | AU$16.99 | paperback

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