Dog Aliens #1: Raffle’s Name – Book Review

dogaliensI spotted Dog Aliens #1: Raffle’s Name by Cherise Kelley on a Book Barbarian promo, and with my love of all things animal and sci-fi, how could I turn it down?

In Dog Aliens, Clem is not a dog, but rather a Kaxian, an alien race that looks exactly like Earth dogs and is living on earth to mine for Jex. Jex is a mineral that humans don’t need but is intensely important to the Kaxian – and to the Niques, another race of dog aliens who will do anything in their power to stop the Kaxian from getting the Jex.

This sounds like a setup for an epic animal story via Erin Hunter’s Warriors or Kathryn Lasky’s Guardians of Ga’Hoole, but really it’s the tale of Clem as he goes on various little adventures, from finding a new family once he’s abandoned by his original owner, escaping from his new careless owner, trying to get adopted from a shelter, fending off pesky cats and Niques – and figuring out his strange new ability to influence minds by projecting “mind movies” onto them.

The story lacks direction because of this episodic structure, but I doubt this will matter for its target audience, which is young middle schoolers and people who just love to read about dogs. For those readers, it’s fun to see earthly dog habits explained in Kaxian terms: Dogs dig all the time because they’re mining for Jex; they eat Jex to carry it, poop it to deliver it, and eat it again to carry it further if needs be. Not all of the content has earth dog parallels, though: Kaxians, for example, have multiple lives (as cats are reputed to, not dogs), and the book never establishes why exactly Jex is so important.

This may detract from the enjoyment of picky readers (Personally, I wanted more details about nearly all nontraditional elements of the story). Others who are looking for a quick, clean read, though, will enjoy it. The book is clear from the beginning that it’s a gentle read, with page one clearly stating that no dogs die, and in general it’s pretty tame, though there is one scene where a bad owner threatens to hit a dog with a frying pan and another wherein a dog in a shelter hopes that it won’t send him to his next life (i.e. implying he’s in a kill shelter).

Ultimately, it’s a quick, fun read for fans of talking animal adventures.


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