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The Dust of 100 Dogs

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In the late seventeenth century, famed teenage pirate Emer Morrisey was on the cusp of escaping the pirate life with her one true love and unfathomable riches when she was slain and cursed with "the dust of one hundred dogs," dooming her to one hundred lives as a dog before returning to a human body-with her memories intact.

Now she's a contemporary American teenager and all she needs is a shovel and a ride to Jamaica.

330 pages, Paperback

First published January 13, 2009

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About the author

A.S. King

24 books3,565 followers
A.S. King is the author of the highly-acclaimed I CRAWL THROUGH IT, Walden Award winner GLORY O'BRIEN'S HISTORY OF THE FUTURE, REALITY BOY, 2013 LA Times Book Prize winner ASK THE PASSENGERS, 2012 ALA Top Ten Book for Young Adults EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS, and 2011 Michael L. Printz Honor Book PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ and THE DUST OF 100 DOGS as well as a collection of award-winning short stories for adults, MONICA NEVER SHUTS UP.

Look for Amy's work in anthologies DEAR BULLY, BREAK THESE RULES, ONE DEATH NINE STORIES, and LOSING IT. Two more YA novels to come in 2016 & 2018. Find more at www.as-king.com.

p.s.- If I don't accept your friend request, don't feel sad. It's because I don't really use Goodreads even though I'm completely thrilled that you do!

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 688 reviews
Profile Image for Shannon .
1,216 reviews2,102 followers
December 26, 2009
Infamous and bloodthirsty, teenage pirate Emer is all set to leave her days plundering the Spanish in the Caribbean behind and sail off with her long-lost and new-found love, Seanie, and their treasure for Ireland, when she is killed by an old enemy and cursed to live the life of a hundred dogs.

A hundred dogs and about three hundred years later, Emer is reborn in 1972 as Saffron Adams - with all her memories intact, memories of being Emer and of being numerous dogs all over the world. The last child of five born to alcoholic and depressive parents living in Pennsylvania, she wants only to get through school, grab a shovel and head back to Jamaica to dig up her treasure. While she waits she imagines all the colourful ways she can flog, dismember and otherwise torture the people in her life who annoy the crap out of her, in true Emer style.

The Dust of 100 Dogs is told from three perspectives and two timelines: Saffron's first person narration in her present (leading up to 1990); Emer growing up in Ireland in the 1650s, escaping Cromwell, fleeing Paris and ending up captain of an impressive pirate fleet in the Caribbean; and the mildly insane Fred Livingstone, an ageing but still wealthy real estate broker living in Jamaica with his much-abused dog Rusty - also in Saffron's present. All three narratives navigate towards each other to reach a conclusion that's 100 dogs in the making.

Emer and Saffron are wonderful characters, leading different lives, never quite the same person and yet similar enough in ways, both living through tumultuous times and with difficult people. Through it all she - they? - narrates with dark irony, a measure of contempt and a swig of childish enthusiasm. While she's not entirely loveable or even, at times, likeable, she's still charismatic, interesting (never dull), and sympathetic. By the end of the novel I really cared about Saffron. Both Emer and Saffron present different social issues: Emer of girls and women sold like chattel to men, slaving their lives away in some cases and never taken seriously enough; and Saffron of parents who have grand dreams for their children, pressuring them to live the lives they never could, pinning all their hopes on them and then being upset when they rebel. Both Emer and Saffron speak for a great many teenagers, especially but not exclusively girls, as they try to stand up for themselves. So it's not hard to cheer Emer on as she kills a would-be rapist with a rock, or storms a ship's deck with a cutlass in hand.

Livingstone was another well-drawn, cleverly crafted character. At first, when he suddenly turns up in the story, I wasn't sure why he was there, but I trusted King that there was a good reason - and there is. He was a mix of brutish fear and cowardly ego, and perversity as he ogles the girls on the beach and imagines conversations in his head where he flirts with them and invites them to dinner. He's a sad man driven to quick rages and you can only feel terribly sorry for poor Rusty the doberman.

Speaking of dogs, interspersed throughout the novel are six dog facts that cleverly reinforce, mirror or complement whatever part of the story they interrupt. You can tell that King is a dog person, and her insights into the nature of dogs - from Saffron's perspective, and she's had a lot of experience! - are great for dog lovers and people, like me, who would like a dog one day but don't really understand them or know what to do with them.

After a bit of a slow start while you get your footing with Saffron's dry, unloving narration (she does have some familial feeling but, knowing exactly where she's come from, she never really sees herself as their daughter or part of their family, which is a bit sad really), the story really picks up as it weaves through time and adventures and gets quite exciting. A wonderful tale of adventure on the high seas (I love that phrase!) and teenage impatience; young love and loss and sheer determination.
Profile Image for Amanda.
282 reviews315 followers
July 4, 2013
This is definitely one of the more interesting premises that I've encountered in young adult fiction and, given all of the carbon copy Twilight/Harry Potter series books out there, it deserves high praise for that alone.

Young Emer Morrisey has a loving family and a happy childhood until her parents are brutally killed and her village destroyed during Cromwell's invasion of Ireland. From that point on, Emer's life is one disappointment after another: poverty, arranged marriage, abusive uncle, hunger, imprisonment, and rape. It's no wonder that she loses hope in goodness and kindness and, when fate brings her to the pirate haven of Tortuga, she decides to take from others as viciously as life has taken from her. That's right--Emer is kicking ass and taking names as the captain of her own pirate ship and it's not long before she manages to make a name for herself as one of the most cunning and bloodthirsty pirates to ever sail the seven seas. When Emer crosses the wrong man, she is killed and cursed with "The Dust of 100 Dogs," meaning that she will be reincarnated 100 times as a dog before finally being reincarnated as a human being and able to take care of unfinished business.

The novel begins with the birth of Saffron Adams, the human reincarnation of Emer after she has endured several canine lifetimes. Saffron is her own person, yet still has all of Emer's memories and knowledge. As Saffron searches for the treasure Emer was able to bury before her death, the novel deftly switches from past to present as we learn of Emer's past and Saffron's future. If all of this sounds bizarre and confusing, well, it is, but in a good way. The novel maintains suspense and draws all of the storylines together to a satisfactory conclusion. The one expectation that wasn't met for me is that we learn very little about Emer's dog lives; instead, the chapters are interspersed with short vignettes about what Emer the dog learned about human nature from various owners in various time periods. This is probably a smart move on the part of King as reading about the lives of 100 dogs, while intriguing, could become pretty tedious somewhere around the third Milkbone treat given, leg humped, or fire hydrant peed upon.

In reading other reviews, many readers were shocked by the brutality and the sexuality in the book (which I actually found to be pretty tame). Um, yeah, I think that it could be because it's a FREAKIN' PIRATE book and not a Disney theme park ride. Others seemed to be shocked to find such content in a young adult book, but I have no such worries. I'm sure teenagers have already figured out the sex thing, yeah? And they've probably done it from unsupervised watching of cable television and unmonitored Internet usage their parents make accessible. And it's a hell of a lot better than reading three books of Bella lusting after sparkling Edward's cold, hard . . . well, you know. (*removes self from soapbox and drags it back to the corner*)

So, yes, good book, definitely enjoyed it, and suffered no negative side effects other than a desire to walk around saying, "Arrrggghhh, me matey" to everyone I met for a week.

Cross posted at This Insignificant Cinder and at Shelf Inflicted
Profile Image for Mariel.
667 reviews1,038 followers
October 14, 2010
The Dust of Dogs could have been a much better book. Should have been, but the gimmicks probably do the trick to sell it, so why would anyone care about doing something more? Sigh. That's not a resigned sigh. I still expect waaay more. It's not the worst book ever, it's readable and reasonably entertaining, but my mind wouldn't shut off while reading it.

If I were A.S. King's editor or best buddy proof reader (and doesn't get dog poop flung at her for voicing her honest opinions)...

The selling/talking-points are: the teenaged girl pirate story, reincarnation as a dog, Ireland, evil nuns (erm... that's probably only me), her last name is MORRISEY (um, me again?), Oliver Cromwell (my freakish twin! aha!), the 1970s, and so on. (I didn't misread the 1970s part? I keep reading reviews that say "contemporary" and I didn't think that teens today would consider the 1970s contemporary. Myself, now thirty-one years old, was only born at the tail end of the tail end of the decade. It seemed like oooh faraway to me when I was a teenager.) All stuff that doesn't fit in well together because of the way that it is written. Saffron's inner pirate voice comes and goes like a bad accent. Emer is BEAUTIFUL (ugh, not that again) in that meaningless way that some authors like to trot out. There's some fairy tale hero stuff thrown in as REASONS and FATE that doesn't work well because of the way it is thrown in (myths have their own logic. You can't lean on them, you gotta build 'em yourself). I knew I was in trouble almost from the get go, actually, because of the way that first person Saffron voice throws out the information in the Kevin Arnold Wonder Years voiceover IMPORTANT deliverance. Don't tell me why it is important, or that it will be important (and then it isn't important). Just have a real voice that doesn't come and go for gimmickys sake, for christ's sake! Ugh.

Emer Morrissey turns pirate when she's not allowed to be with her boyfriend. Okay, there's a threatened marriage to an odious Frenchman, too, to sweeten the loot chest. Lots of other dudes want her ('cause she's soooo beautiful) and she kills one of them (this is brushed over). So she's cursed by a guy who loved that guy to live for three hundred years as a dog. This part is skipped over (again) and then revisited as tips for training a puppy. (I'm currently so-called training my chihuahua/feist mutt Seamus. The judgemental tone of her "tips" hurt my feelings sniff sniff.) It'd have been interesting to investigate what impact this pretty enormous chunk of her life time had on her other than random dog tips. It's like the pirate-y thoughts that come and go. It's pretty much just there for added-in flavor. Like if your friends started talking like a pirate during "Talk like a Pirate day". It'd be as believablely pirateish as that would be.

Then there is the living with the new human family again as a girl. Wouldn't this have had SOME change on her? Real change, I mean, not residuals like dandruff (or mange or scurvy). Where is the inner turmoil of being Emer, and Saffron and the dogs? (Each 100 of them. Dogs are not all alike.) Are there new souls? What about just experiences? Memories aren't everything, and the rest of the lives are not waiting room times. She makes decisions, so it cannot be waiting room. And teenage love doesn't last forever, either, especially a love that didn't get the chance to really go anywhere. I guess that is why this is a ya book (nothing against ya. There are some ya love stories that are not brick wall like this), just the gimmicky marketing laziness again. Shouldn't she have missed a really hot yorkie or shetland sheep dog?

And I'm the best puppy trainer in the whole wide world.
Profile Image for Small Review.
610 reviews207 followers
October 12, 2015
Originally posted at Small Review

This is not the book I signed up for

I was expecting a high seas adventure with pirates, epic love, reincarnation, a unique curse, and exciting treasure hunts. Instead I got a fractured story that never went anywhere and had gratuitous rape, sex, animal abuse, and violence. Based on the description, I really wanted to read this book. I still do. Unfortunately, that isn’t the book A. S. King wrote.

The plot that went nowhere

I felt like an abused donkey with a carrot hung in front of my face and, like the donkey, I never got that carrot. I slogged through boring and hugely depressing scenes as first Emer and then Saffron (who is Emer reincarnated, sort of) recount their tortured existences. Emer starved in Ireland during the 1600s and Saffron lived through the 1970s-‘90s with her alcoholic, trashy, do-nothing parents and drug addicted brother. I read through chapters and chapters of this and, looking back, they served very little purpose. Saffron’s scenes were especially superfluous, providing neither character growth nor plot advancement. To say the conclusion of her storyline (and the book) was anticlimactic is an understatement.

Emer’s story was at least somewhat satisfying. Like the blurb, I thought it was a great idea. There was epic love, unrequited love, pirating, battles, and treasure. Except, this was more told than shown, and the telling was far too brief. More time is spent in dreary, depressing Ireland with a young and starving Emer than on the high seas treasure seeking. I didn’t care so much for Emer as I did for the idea of a woman in her position. She was more like a legend than an actual character. Her romance was equally hollow with her barely there and almost entirely unknown love interest (like a Disney prince back in the day, Seanie spoke about five lines).

The curse was something I was very much looking forward to exploring, but it too failed to deliver. I wanted to know more about the curse, but at the very least I wanted to see how her time spent as 100 dogs affected her character. The answer, apparently, is that it didn’t affect her. Saffron shows absolutely no growth or, really, any effects of having once been a dog. How do you go 300 years and over 100 lifetimes without ever growing as a character? The point of these lifetimes seemed to serve only to allow Saffron to be reincarnated 300 years later, which could have been accomplished without the unexplored curse. I was disappointed.

Poor characterization

All of the characters fell flat for me and felt like caricatures. The bad characters lacked any depth or nuance and are instead simply straight up vile people (really, if you want to make me hate your character, by all means make him a perverted, rapist, animal abuser. I’ll hate him for sure, but I also might hate you a little for introducing me to him).

The “good” characters were almost as annoying, with few redeeming qualities themselves. None of the characters grew or changed throughout the book at all. This made their experiences seem pointless to read about.

Except, Emer and Saffron were not the same person at all. I’m unclear as to how the reincarnation worked exactly. Saffron was Emer, but she also wasn’t. She shared Emer’s memories and knowledge, but she did and thought things Emer wouldn’t have, to her detriment. Is this poor and inconsistent characterization? Is this a convoluted plot point? I don’t know, but that alone isn’t a good sign.

Shock and awe

As stated above, there are copious amounts of gratuitous violence, abuse, rape, and sex (both hetero and homosexual). This is a YA book, but in name only. Abuse against dogs is written about repeatedly, and with little to no relevance to the plot. I have never read animal abuse that even comes close to this in both frequency and detail.

Emer is raped, and the act is described in detail. Again, this has only the barest relevance to the plot, and the graphic nature of the act is unnecessary to get the point across. She also crudely refers to sex in an off-hand manner that also serves no purpose. None of these acts help build character development, with the sex mentions coming across as especially irrelevant and “shocking” for the sake of being edgy.

There are a few attempts at making a point, but each time the message comes across more like an afterthought or a throwaway concession to try to half-heartedly justify the violent scenes. It is one thing to show scenes like this if there is a purpose, but there wasn’t any here. It was just rambling violence that continually digressed from the barebones story.

Bottom line

I wish I had never read this book and it was only the hope of Emer’s story improving that kept me reading until the end. I feel deceived by the false advertising and disappointed that I never got to read the book I was hoping this would be. In my library I do still recommend books I didn’t like to my patrons because their tastes may be different, but I can’t comfortably recommend this book to a YA patron. Their parents would kill me.


Originally posted at Small Review
Profile Image for Misty.
796 reviews1,229 followers
May 20, 2011
There are a lot of things I could say about the writing and the structure of the book, and the alternating viewpoints, and the interestingness of it all, but what I really want to talk about is this:
I'm kind of amazed at how dark this book is.  I mean, don't get me wrong, I sort of loved it, but my god...this is a dark book.  That description up ↑there↑ makes it sound sort of campy and quirky - a fun pirate romp.  Not so much.  Emer was a pirate in the full sense of the word: she stole and swahsbuckled with the best of them, sure, but more importantly, she was bloodthirsty and had nothing to lose (until suddenly, she had everything to lose).  In the course of her brief time as a pirate, she kills countless men and meditates on her piratical "trademark" - should she carve her name into her victims backs? Been done.  Maybe amputate limbs or keelhaul them? Gets old.  Nope, Emer is an eye-gouger.  In fact, the book opens with it.
What I'm saying is, she's dark.

So when she's cursed to live 100 lives as a dog (many of them brief and brutal), and is then reborn in the form of Saffron Adams, the darkness doesn't just go away.  Though she never acts on her darker desires, she routinely pictures herself scalping, skewering and otherwise inconveniencing people who make life difficult for her.  It's funny, but it's also scary, and above all, it's true to her character.  She's had 300 years to learn and grow and let go of some grudges, maybe - but she's also had 300 years to stew and fixate, and you can't let something like that go.  Not to mention that being a teen in the 80s/90s and having your parents breathing down your neck about college, when in your heart you know you're a mothereffing pirate -- well, that would do things to a person.  There have to be times she questions  her sanity, and there have to be times that she wants to be able to exercise the, um, freedom of a pirate in dealing with her enemies.  King realizes this and stays true to who Emer was, while allowing Saffron (and 100 dogs) to bring new own experiences to the mix.  And bloodthirsty pirate that she is, you kind of can't help but love her.

But the darkness doesn't just lie within Emer/Saffron.  There is a pervasive dark streak throughout nearly ever aspect of the book, and no act of human cruelty is shied away from.  The things that are done to Emer, the things that she does to other people, the things that other people do to other people, and say and think and want - they're more often than not harsh and raw and selfish, and unflinching in it.  King doesn't tiptoe around the negatives and the brutal realities of piracy, history and human nature in general, and the steady stream of (yes, dark) humor throughout the book just plays counterpoint to all the really messed up things that are going on.

I'd say it's a tale of obsession more than anything, but for all that, it is equally a story about love.  Told through alternating timelines and viewpoints, as the reader you're stuck watching as things move inexorably towards each other, heading for a crash, and when you think it couldn't possibly end well for anyone involved, it somehow manages to be redemptive.  It's full of contradictions, a simple tale full of complexities, and as hard as it is to read, it's harder yet to put down.  By no means is it a story for everyone, and many many people will be turned off by the casual violence and general bleakness.  But the rest of us will fall in love with Emer/Saffron, and cringe along through the good and the bad, right until the end.
371 reviews58 followers
February 1, 2009
Cross posted from my blog E. M. Reads

Wow, this is soooo good! 5 really big stars! I can't even begin to describe all the facets of Dust. It has 3 (maybe 4) different plot lines that converge beautifully. It's action packed and totally captivating. The book literally held my brain hostage for two days. When I wasn't reading it I was thinking about reading it (not a necessarily a good thing when you're working your 8 to 5).

Doing a typical synopsis would take hours and I just don't have the time to do it this second ('cause I'm supposed to be working a conference in San Francisco - don't tell my boss), but I do want to encourage everyone to buy and read Dust of 100 Dogs ASAP. Savvy? Dust is a story of growth, survival, love and more importantly - piracy. Arrgggh!

P.S. If you disturbed by animal cruelty skip pages 232 & 233. Just read 234 and you'll get enough of the point.

P.P.S. I'm slightly disappointed that this is not set up for a series. A. S. King please write more books - preferably about Saffron and Emer.
Profile Image for Rachael.
611 reviews46 followers
October 19, 2008
Emer Morrisey, named after a female hero from an Irish tale, has almost lived up to her namesake. But history and circumstance has separated her from her one true love and eventually forced her into a life of piracy. Years later, this young and independent woman is ready to renounce her pirating ways, keeping only a small portion of her stolen riches, to be with her long lost love. Tragically, they are bother killed, and Emer is cursed with “the dust of one hundred dogs,” forcing her to endure one hundred lifetimes as a canine. Three hundred years later, she’s an American teenager named Saffron Adams, and she remembers everything. Now all she needs is a shovel and a way to Jamaica.

In all honesty, The Dust of 100 Dogs can be summed up on one word: spectacular. I am not kidding when I say this novel blew my mind. There are several other tales of female pirates, such as To Catch a Pirate, but The Dust of 100 Dogs outshines them by far, and for several reasons. The plot is a unique and compelling fusion of seventeenth-century swashbuckling danger and romance, contemporary teen issues, and dog humor. All parts were written exceptionally well, and it’s difficult to say which I preferred because they were all so interesting. Emer/Saffron was such an original character; in all her lives, no matter how young, she always seemed so determined and mature. I really liked how she could keep her head amidst all the circumstances she encountered. I also enjoyed trying to equate the characters from the contemporary portion of this story with their seventeenth-century counterparts, if any. King’s writing is so powerful that at times, I felt I was in the story alongside Emer or Saffron; she succeeded in creating a romantic and unforgettable tale of everlasting love with magic and mystery. The Dust of 100 Dogs is sure to be a favorite as soon as it hits shelves among all readers, because this is a story that spans age and time.

I don’t think it would be fair to compare The Dust of 100 Dogs to books like To Catch a Pirate by Jade Parker and Reincarnation by Suzanne Weyn, even though it was a sort of combination of those two, because this story is nearly infinitely better. The Dust of 100 Dogs has earned a high spot on my favorites list and King is an author to watch.

reposted from http://thebookmuncher.blogspot.com
Profile Image for Lisa.
Author 51 books6,648 followers
August 3, 2008
It's still months away from release date, but I was lucky enough to read an early copy of this book. I completely fell in love with it and agreed to blurb it:

The Dust of 100 Dogs is a non-traditional pirate tale with a dangerously raw, mystical edge and a unique modern twist that will make you cringe, despair, despise and adore. Deliciously fresh and starkly unforgettable...for at least the next three hundred years. –Lisa McMann, NYT bestselling author of WAKE

Watch for this book around the end of January! It's available for pre-order now through your local independent bookstore indiebound.org, or amazon.com, etc -- I ordered five copies to give away to my local libraries. I want to make sure this book is available to my homies. :)


Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,379 reviews11.7k followers
June 16, 2009
This book had such great reviews and praised so highly by both critics and readers, I expected to adore it. Sorry to say, I was a little underwhelmed. I liked it, but I didn't love it.

Let me start with the positives. First of all, the concept of the book if not original, then certainly not very frequently explored. I find the idea of reincarnation quite fascinating. This book is very hard to put down. It is an extremely engaging and consuming read. Some elements of the story are very emotional and powerful and I will not forget them soon. Emer's character is well defined and I admire her strength and courage.

But there are also some negatives that I want to address. The story consists of several distinctive "threads" - Emer's pirate journey, Saffron's "treasure hunt," Emer's dog lives. While all these threads are interesting independently, they never completely come together in my opinion and therefore make this book quite a bizarre mix of not fully connected ideas. For instance, the 100 dogs' aspect of the book can be taken out of the story altogether. Simply because Emer's experiences as dogs never come into play and feel like an afterthought. We spend a lot of time in the sick mind of Frenchman-reincarnate Fred Livingston. But does this knowledge of his twisted thoughts add anything to the story? I don't think so.

In my opinion, "The Dust of 100 Dogs" could have been a truly great story if it were a little bit more focused. However this book caught my attention enough to wish to check out what A.S. King writes next.
Profile Image for Jacki.
1,132 reviews47 followers
August 2, 2010
I was excited about this book! A reincarnated female pirate who lived the lives of 100 dogs before returning to claim her buried treasure? How different! How unique! How action-packed! Right?

Wrong.

This book is the Neverending Backstory. The first 200 pages are nothing but backstory on the heroine's first miserable life in Ireland and her current miserable life as a high school student. The most piratical action we see is the modern-day incarnation fantasizing about stabbing people with a marlinspike. The writing is unimpressive, the plot both tedious and convoluted, and the characters too flat to provide interest. As for the curse of 100 dogs, it's only focused on in 7 1-2 page episodes that tell some parable about the truths of dog existence. Her 100 lifetimes as a dog have done nothing to shape Saffron, and she isn't living by the morals of the dog tales, so why include them at all? They only serve to add more shock value as most contain tales of the dog's abuse or violent death.

This book contains heavy amounts of animal abuse, child abuse, and rape, perhaps in a futile attempt to create an interesting story. Since the characters are so dull, we are merely left with a book that manages to be slightly obscene as well as completely and unforgivably boring.

While it's a highly decorated YA offering, I honestly cannot imagine many teens bothering to slog through this tedious read, especially when the cover promises so many great things and fails to deliver any of them.

I would never recommend it.
Profile Image for ~Tina~.
1,092 reviews159 followers
September 8, 2011
TBR Reduce Challenge #31- 2011 (Morgan)

(2.5 stars)

I honestly don't know what to say about this book. The Dust of 100 Dogs is wonderfully weird, brilliantly written and 100% unique...but this isn't exactly my kind of read. It was a bit confusing, a little to..savage then what I'm use to, but despite my dislikes this book has a way of pulling you along till the very last page. Emer/Saffron had a very unusual life. It was twisted, dark and yet I still found her determination and fight likable. I got a kick out of the 'Dog Facts' though. It was actually a really nice touch and made it more intriguing somehow.
All in all, I found this to be a decent entertaining read. I can't say that I loved it and parts of it I really didn't care for, at all, but I still found this to be quite the experience.
Anyone who is looking for different in your reads...look no further.
Profile Image for Jo.
268 reviews941 followers
July 26, 2011
“Emer…eventually found she enjoyed ripping an eye from the men she killed. Especially the men who glared at her body. It was a way to remind them to never underestimate a woman, she figured. One less eye to ogle with.”

High Points.
The cover. Seriously, how gorgeous is that cover? It’s definitely one of my favourites from this year. The idea. Emer’s childhood. Adventures on the high seas. Treasure.

Low Points.
The execution. I just feel so very disappointed because I can’t help but think this book should have been so amazing. I think it spent too much time with scenes that didn’t need to be in there (basically when Emer became a captain for no reason and that thread of story line) and less time developing the characters. I found myself not really caring about what happened to them, which is no good.
Also, I would have liked to have spent more time with Saffron, I think Ms King missed a trick with not putting in a few scenes about a teenager who had lived for 300 years as a dog… oh and yeah, been a bloodthirsty pirate. They could have been hilarious anecdotes like when she won a fencing tournament the first time she’d played or, I don’t know, accidentally peed on a lamp post or something.
I just really wanted more from this book.

Heroine.
It’s going to annoy me keep referring to our heroine as Emer/Saffron so I’m going to call her Emerron. OK?
I felt about Emerron in the way I felt about this entire book: I want more from you. I knew that she had the potential to be awesome and a complete BAMF but just when she was in the brink of doing something amazing she got her rocks off with a poor sap who was devoted to her even though she knew she didn’t feel the same way became a captain of a ship for no explicable reason pranced around in a bikini on a beach never really mentions the time when she was.. um, yeah… A DOG FOR 300 YEARS did something silly.
She seemed to be missing her spark and it was like her wish to get her treasure (not even revenge! Never is revenge mentioned once in this whole book. Surely that would be a factor if you had lost everything you’d ever loved and then had the ashes of dead dogs thrown at you be a crazy Jamaican?!) eclipsed her personality.
I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I kept wishing she would suddenly become Vera Dietz and she continued to disappoint me when in the next chapter she was Emerron talking about her capes.

Baddie.
OK, I’m not sure whether it’s just because I secretly hope know that every person with a European accent will be a baddie in films and books (Any excuse.) I kind of guessed straight away the twist in this book.
Although I’m not sure that it even was a twist.
I don’t know.
I feel, in a book about mother-effin’ pirates and pillaging and pilfering and phfighting, tehre needed to be more peril. But alas, there was none. Like it kept being like ‘Oooh oooh, something bad is going to happen now… wait… no. You couldn’t handle it’ and cutting at the last minute.
It felt like this all over again.
A Keyser Soze cameo would have made this book infinitely better. That would have had Emerron shaking in her booties.


Love Interest.
I always root for the underdog (ba-bum-bum) so I didn’t really care for Seanie. Yeah, he was sweet but it was difficult to get on his side because it was so obvious that he and Emer were going to end up together. Because it’s fate, y’all.
I think I would have been a lot more inclined to care about him if Ms King had spent more time developing his character without being smitten with Emer from the get go. But yeah, he was too clean cut and obvious.
My alliances were well and truly with David. Poor little pup.

Theme Tune.
Dog Days are Over- Florence + the Machine.
Too obvious?
Fine.. um… OK.
How about
Diamond Dogs- David Bowie.
Purely because it talks about dogs and diamonds and David Bowie is a complete fox would definitely wear one of Emer’s capes and he likes to wear eye-patches.

Angst Level.
5/10. These points are for the first few chapters of Emer’s life… because they were really well written and I felt true sympathy....
But that’s pretty much it.

Recommended For.
Dog people. People who believe there is still buried treasure out there. People who want to have an adventure… that ends with you getting stuck in an airport. People who don’t mind cliché serendipitous endings that are dipped in sugar and, apparently, rugged hiking boots. People who still fancy Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber. People who fancy Alan Rickman especially as Hans Gruber. People who want a fairy godmother to hand them their keys. People who fashion eye-patches out of cardboard and knicker-elastic and pretend to be pirates and/or David Bowie.

You can find this review and other exciting things at my blog here.
Profile Image for Arlene.
1,155 reviews643 followers
May 30, 2009
Dust of 100 Dogs by A. S. King was a very interesting read. I was intrigued, confused, and captivated by the dual main characters Emer and Saffron. I enjoyed reading about Emer’s back story, and I felt compassion for her. However, I struggled with Saffron because she seemed damaged and mentally twisted, as a result of her past pirate life. I didn’t quite know how to feel about her because at times I was repulsed by her thoughts. However, that didn’t stop me from hoping she would accomplish her goal and find solace for herself.

The story is about Emer Morrisey, a seventeenth century pirate, who after years of pillaging and killing reunites with the man she’s loved since she was a child. Emer and Seanie plan to take their spoils and return to their homeland in Ireland to live out the rest of their life in comfort. However, they meet their untimely death and Emer is cursed to live the lives of 100 dogs. After 100 dog lives, she rematerializes as a teenager named Saffron, who struggles to suppress her twisted pirate instincts and longs to return to the island where she was murdered to dig out her treasure. The story unfolds through several POVs, including Emer, Saffron, Emer’s dog incarnations of “Dog Facts”, and the man who murdered Emer and Seanie.

I was somewhat confused, but consistently captivated by this unique storyline. The reader gets glimpses of a trouble girl and negative forces in her life that can at times be somewhat shocking. I hesitate to recommend this book, as it’s definitely not a feel good story, but if you’re in the mood for something different and can handle a fair dose of twisted, give it a try.
Profile Image for Penny.
215 reviews1,354 followers
May 11, 2009
First things first: I had a hard time rating this book. Two stars doesn't seem to do it justice but three stars would be too generous - it was more then okay but I didn't totally like it.

Saffron Adams isn't your normal modern teenager. She's actually the reincarnation of Emer Morrisey, a cursed pirate who sailed the Caribbean over 300 years ago. The curse? She was cursed to live the lives of 100 dogs before coming back as a human once more. Why? Well, that wasn't super clear. I mean, yeah, she murdered and pillaged. And yeah, she killed a creepy Frenchman who claimed to love her, causing the Frenchman's servant - who loved said Frenchman - to retaliate by cursing her right before she dies. The servant wanted her to know how long true love lasts or something like that. Apparently by living the lives of 100 dogs she would suffer (because she doesn't forget anything. She remembers all the lives she lives). The thing is I don't think Emer/Saffron did a ton of suffering. And, if anything, she's a little wiser and knows a lot about how to raise a dog properly (I kid you not).

Saffron spends the first 18 years of her life pretending to be a regular - smarter then average - girl. But really, she's secretly planning a trip to the Caribbean so she might retrieve the treasure she and her (Emer Morrisey's) childhood sweetheart buried right before their violent deaths.

Was this book entertaining? Sure, I guess, if you're into pirates. Which, after reading this book I've decided I'm not into the whole pirate thing. Worth reading? That depends.
Profile Image for Erin.
231 reviews103 followers
March 25, 2012
This book has basically the coolest premise EVER. Emer, an Irish girl living in the time of Cromwell, suffers many hardships before eventually turning to a life of piracy. She has an epic love, a creepy stalker, and a propensity to carve out her victims' eyeballs.

Then she ticks off the wrong... magician (I guess), and gets cursed to be reincarnated 100 times as a dog. It's only after these hundred dog lives that she is born as a human once more. Namely, she is Saffron. She can't wait to graduate high school, travel to Jamaica, and dig up the treasure she buried when she was Emer the pirate.

Yeah. It sounds fantastic.

Overall, it had its ups and downs. The narrative is broken up into three sections: Emer's story, Saffron's story, and the super-disturbing POV of Fred Livingstone, an older man living in Jamaica. (Ugh, reading his sections made me want to take a shower.)

I feel unfair giving this book such a low rating. The author, A.S. King, has written some books I'm really looking forward to reading, and I wanted to like my first taste of her a bit more. I have mad respect for the book just based on the imaginative premise. Emer was not your run-of-the-mill female protagonist; she had a very damaged personality.

But... for some reason, it just didn't connect with me in any meaningful way. At the beginning I only wanted to read Emer's sections. Then, when Saffron was getting closer to the treasure, I got annoyed with Emer and just wanted to reach the conclusion with Saffron. Fred was freaking creepy and I was really hoping that Rusty, the dog he constantly abuses, would finally just bite his face off. Dear Fred, I hate you. Sincerely, Erin.

I'm glad I read it, and I very much hope that it succeeds mightily with other readers. The premise deserves it. However, for me it just fell a little flat.

BONUS SONG: Willie Taylor by Uncle Earl. So under the radar that YouTube doesn't even have it, this song has it all: female dressing like a sailor, the search for her true love, and getting to be captain of her own ship. Match made in doggy heaven.




Profile Image for Sesana.
5,006 reviews348 followers
March 27, 2012
There's a lot of potential in the ideas King throws out here, but I think that she ultimately tries to do too much. Saffron is the reincarnation of teenaged pirate Emer, born with all of her memories. Her lifelong goal is to track down the treasure Emer had buried in her last moments. In between, Emer has lived through 100 lives as a dog. Sounds like an interesting story, and this part is. But the promise of swashbuckling pirate action isn't quite lived up to, not as much as I'd like. The problem is that the narrative becomes bogged down with an unecessary (and unnecessarily creepy) stalker plot, and Emer's true piracy is limited to just a few scenes.

There are four competing narratives here. Saffron's story is told entirely in her POV. Emer's story is, oddly, told in third person, probably to differentiate it from Saffron's. If it were just these two narrative threads, I think the book would have been a little stronger. But there's also the first person "dog facts", observations about canine behavior that Saffron/Emer picked up over 100 canine lifetimes, which really have no bearing on the story. And worst of all, there's the Fred chapters, starring an unbearably horrible villain for Saffron (who she doesn't truly run up against until the last few pages of the book) who is so despicable and so entirely unhinged that it drags the rest of the book down.

If Emer had been allowed her full share of swashbuckling, if there'd been just two narrative threads (Emer and Saffron), if Fred had been a more convincing (read: not over-the-top insane), if there'd been more conflict between Fred and Saffron before the last few pages... If all of that had happened, this would have been a four star book, easily.
Profile Image for Trisha.
4,521 reviews156 followers
February 19, 2019
“Humans want to conquer everyone they can, and buy everything they see. I think this is because humans have forgotten how to be happy.

This is an odd story but A.S. King always gives me odd ones that I end up loving. Parts fantasy but also real world, it was interesting to try to keep the story lines and characters in line. Dealing with the two time frames, the inner goals with outer reality was interesting to juggle too.

I did love it but it was a different read.
Profile Image for Tara Chevrestt.
Author 26 books292 followers
March 21, 2010
This is a darn good book. I question its appropriateness for young adults due to some language and sexual content, but as an adult, I really liked it and devoured it in a day. The story goes back and forth between Emer and Saffron. They are actually one and the same. Emer was basically cursed upon her death in the late 17th century and after living as 100 separate dogs since, finally has a human body again, in the form of Saffron living in the 20th century.

18th century Emer is a tough cookie in war torn Ireland spirited away by an evil uncle and when the evil uncle tries to force her to marry a fat old bloke, she runs away and circumstances require her to board a ship and pick up a cutlass. She becomes a pirate to be reckoned with before her cursed death. 21st century Saffron aims to finish what Emer started and find some buried treasure and as she bides her time, deals with loser parents all the while visulizing poking out their eye balls or shooting them with used tampons from her imaginary musket. Wow. Tough chick.

There is also plenty of suspense on top of scalped heads and flaming maxi pads. Will Emer find her lost lover? Will Saffron dig up her treasure? She's got to get past a grotesque, crazy man named Fred first..

The dog angle is so minor, it hardly bears mentioning. After every two chapters or so, there is a page or two dedicated to a dog fact, advice, or a story from the viewpoint of a dog the heroine was in a previous life. I found it kind of irrelevant to the story, but being a dog lover, loved the excerpts nevertheless.

A fun read full of fiesty females. It's staying on my shelf where I can pick it up and read it again another day.
Profile Image for Maurynne  Maxwell.
676 reviews20 followers
April 23, 2009
Amazing book! Love the author's take on things, especially the "asides" chapters that explain life from a dog's perspective. It's being marketed as YA and I recognize totally the wise, wise-cracking and desperate voice of an intelligent outsider teen. But there's certainly adult subject matter--remember that adulthood came early in those days.
You see, Emer was a girl pirate in the 17th century--and just as she had found her true love (after much tribulation) she was killed and cursed to live the lives of 100 dogs before she can again incarnate as a human.
As the book cover states--"Now she's a contemporary teenager and all she needs is a shovel and a ride to Jamaica." Because if you haven't got love, you might as well have the treasure.
we glimpse all three sorts of her life: as Emer, as various dogs, and as Saffron, the pirate stuck in the contemporary world. But I must leave further details to your own delicious discovery.
As you might guess from the subject matter, there is violence, heartbreak, sex, etc. And no gloss on things.
Very much a sense of rightness at the end. Great cover, too.

I can't wait to read what the author comes up with next!
Profile Image for Caitlín K.
316 reviews29 followers
February 5, 2009
I hate to be one of the few people who isn't gushing about this book, but I really can't. It was a very interesting idea, but not (in my opinion) AMAZING like a lot of reviews found it to be. I thought the characters were pretty flat, and felt very removed from them. Emer/Saffron kept talking about how she wanted to rip out people's eyes, but I really didn't see the reason that she should be more than annoyed at them. It was as if the author was telling us that Saffron was a ruthless pirate, instead of actually making her into one.
I did really like the originality of the idea, and it was a fun read, it just didn't live up to my hopes.
Profile Image for Margaret Stohl.
Author 90 books5,987 followers
June 19, 2009

Impossible to describe, incredibly well written, one of the most creative YA releases of this year. I wouldn't have believed anyone could have stitched together one novel that spans hundreds of years and Ireland, Jamaica and New Jersey. You have to commit to this story, and then focus, because you have to use your brain just to keep up with the rollicking, wandering plot. A top-shelf, thinking person's YA add. Will be cherished in libraries for the lifetime of at least another 100 dogs!
Profile Image for Megan.
1,189 reviews73 followers
May 12, 2018
DNF page 126.

At a third of the way into the novel, not only are there no pirates to speak of yet, I'm sick of reading about Emer/Saffron (as she's called in her 20th C reincarnation) and her incessant whinging. Even the historical chapters detailing Emer's childhood (and pre-pirate life) during Cromwell's 17th century invasion of Ireland bored me - the writing felt childish and immature, and while that may have been an attempt to reflect Emer's young age (around 6 years old), I don't think you necessarily have to write LIKE a child to get your point across that you are writing ABOUT a child.

Basically, I lost both patience and interest, and just couldn't bring myself to continue reading any further.
Profile Image for Hallie.
954 reviews123 followers
August 22, 2009
I was put off this book pretty early, by a very puzzling scene supposedly set in Ireland in 1958. Other than that, I found the heroine - or heroines, as there are essentially two, with the modern-day one having the memories of her 1600s Irish self, but not actually being that self - unlikeable. Emer's speaking in a quite modern tone while back in Ireland, and suddenly taking to throwing out the odd 'Arg' when she was a pirate was also inexplicable. The Dog Facts were a distraction from the story, and often just annoying. The judgmental way in which this was thrown out, for example, really grated:
Pack mentality is built into every dog, the same way 'finders keepers' is built into every imperialist. (One hundred and thirty years later, I find it amusing that if I ask modern Americans about genocide in Native American history they are outraged, and say I haven't heard of the great consolations provided. They speak about spacious reservations, government handouts, and casinos. Hundreds of fabulous casinos. As if Native Americans are the world's billboard for lucky.)


Where to start? For one thing, if imperialists were the finders, they wouldn't be stealing anything, because there'd be no indigenous population from whom to steal it.

Here's what I wrote on LJ about Saffron's mother's story:

The other book has me more puzzled, as it seems from what I've read to be attempting much more. (It *could* turn out to be alternate history, but nothing has indicated it so far.) The main protagonist's mother is telling about her early childhood in Ireland in the late 50s, and there are a few things that are just odd. She's from a big family (of course) with a good-for-nothing alcoholic father (of course), but when the father left the family 'the nuns' put a huge amount of pressure on the mother -- to go to England. Say what? The family is at 'the docks' in Dun Laoghaire and one of the youngest boys talks back to the nuns, who slap him and then he runs off and jumps off the dock. Nobody does anything to save him because the nuns tell him not to, so he drowns. All the others go off on the mailboat to the south of England where they work like slaves - they're 'property' because the mother 'signed the papers' and they never see their mother again. When the protag asks her mother how they got away with it (telling the other people on the dock to do nothing and let a 4 or 5 year old child drown) she just replies that they got away with whatever they wanted to and 'still do' (this is 1985).

Now, it would be hard to live in Ireland and not know about the truly appalling things that were done by some in the religious orders in Ireland in the past and up until far too recently. And the terrible things done in overlooking or turning a blind eye to the abuse, by those supposed to be overseeing the schools and orphanages. I'm not attempting to deny or white-wash any of it, but this still is pretty strong stuff. For one thing, there is no dock in Dun Laoghaire. The mailboat (which I've taken! It's been replaced by a hovercraft, which I've also taken) used to sail from Dun Laoghaire harbour, but there isn't the kind of docks which this scene would suggest - require. And much more unbelievable is that the nuns would have been forcing the mother to take her family to England. If there was a country in which the Roman Catholic church had far too much power and influence, and one in which it had little, no great credit goes for knowing that Ireland would be the first. If anything the nuns would have been more likely to try to persuade the good woman not to move to that heathen Britain. Why not just keep all those kids here where they had all the power, if they wanted the slave labour?

Most importantly though, it's quite shocking to write a scene set in 1958 in Dublin, in which a bunch of normal Irish people stood around while a young child drowned in front of them. Because a bunch of nuns - controlling everyone how? - told them to? No closed doors, no possibility of pretending you didn't know what was happening, but essentially murder in plain sight of everyone. I was born in 1958 (in the US as it happens, but we were back living in Dublin before the year was out) and that's - well, I have a very hard time buying that as a fair accusation.
Profile Image for Jenni Arndt.
438 reviews331 followers
January 3, 2013
Over the last few months I have come to be a huge fan of author A.S. King. Please Ignore Vera Dietz was one of my favorite reads of last year and following that experience I was quick to add all of her books to my TBR and pick them up. My second foray into her writing was The Dust of 100 Dogs and I can definitely say that this one threw me for a loop. This novel is unlike anything I have ever read and is incredibly ambitious. I think King pulled off something so out there really well even though it had my scratching my head through much of it.

The Dust of 100 Dogs is the tale of Emer’s many lives. We get her story from the 1600’s when she is a girl who has lost her parents and is left to live with her terrible abusive uncle. Once she is of age her uncle sells her off to an Englishman for marriage, uprooting her from the man that she has come to love. Emer, being the strong headed girl that she is though, doesn’t lie down and take it, she escapes and sets to the high seas to become one of the most notorious pirates ever. This part of the story had me feeling very disjointed in the beginning, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the historical element and I really didn’t like Emer as a child. She was whiney and she didn’t listen to anyone. What’s funny though is that the things that I hated about young Emer, were the things that endeared me to and made me connect with adult Emer. She was strong and did what no women at that time could have ever achieved. She was respected amongst the men of her ship and she still managed to get a little pleasing in private.

Emer’s story doesn’t have a happy ending though and at the height of her pillaging she is murdered and cursed to live 100 lives as a dog. I should point out here that the story doesn’t go in order, we get alternating chapters from Emer’s story, little lessons that she learned in her lives as dogs and then we also get Saffron’s story, which I will get to later. So the little lessons that we get from her life as a dog are definitely interesting but are not for the faint of heart. She doesn’t live the happiest of puppy lives and goes through some unimaginable things but they always lead to a pretty good lesson.

The final story we get in this novel is of Saffron. Saffron is who Emer is when she is once again born as a human. She’s a 17-year-old girl growing up with an immense amount of pressure on her shoulders. I really liked the family dynamic of Saffron’s story. Her parents were terrible; her mother a drunk and her father had pretty much no back bone and they put all of their faith in Saffron becoming something and bringing the family out of its hole. I felt stressed reading her story, dealing with the pressure from her parents and struggling to come to terms with her brother’s drug addiction felt like a lot for a 17 year old girl. Not to mention that all Saffron wanted to do was to turn 18 and return to the scene of her death to unearth the treasure she had buried there.

There is a lot going on in this novel, as you can tell, but I think King made it work. It is a daring tale told in and incredibly unique way and I really appreciated that. While this one isn’t garnering a 5 start from me it did solidify my love for her work and I will continue to plow through her novels.
Profile Image for Amanda.
196 reviews22 followers
January 22, 2012
I don't really know what to make of this book; I almost feel that the back of the books description was a better read than the book itself. Which is weird because I didn't not like it, but If I was truly honest with myself I didn't research it before reading because I loved the cover so much which has gotten me to read a lot Young Adult Books that ended up being terrible before, and that brings me to another reason I had an issue with this book because I don't feel this should be listed as a read for anyone under the age 17 because of its content. Now with that said don't hate on me because I'm so very much not a prude because hello look at the other stuff I read, but as someone who has a niece who is about to be in her teens not so long from now I would want to strangle someone who would recommended this book to her.

Now for the things I did like, I loved everything about Emer, specially her childhood, before her uncle. I loved how fierce she was with everything about her. I hurt for her when she hurt and loved with her when she loved. I loved the bond that she and Seanie had. It was wonderfully descriptive in all the right places. I also enjoyed the Idea that a dog or a child had this amazing 300 year of brain that never forgot a thing, it was a great concept, that wasn't executed badly but not what I was looking for, and lastly I loved how every time Saffron got annoyed by anyone even her "Mother, Father, ect..." she pictured doing horrible things to them like Emer the Pirate would have. I giggled at those moments.

Now the things I didn't like, first I have to say I don't really like first person yet in this case it wasn't so bad because it wasn't constant. I didn't like how cold both the main characters were, I would have liked to see Saffron remove that detached talk she always had when describing someone else or interacting with someone else. I hated the anti-climatic ending with that pervy Frenchman/Englishman guy, as well as the total ending of the book itself. I mean really what was that last line about. Here is how I gauge the book.

Build up
Explain
Explain
Dog fact
Build up
Explain
Explain
Dog fact
Creepy
Creepy
Deflate
Deflate
Crappy Ending

Over all I can't say it was worst book I ever read but I can't say it was the best book I ever read either because when it ended I was left with the feeling of what did I just read, what was the point and why can't I remember the past few hours of my life.
Profile Image for Kristi.
1,188 reviews2,893 followers
February 1, 2009
Initially I was skeptical. I mean all I have been hearing is how fabulous this novel is. And I found myself thinking.... can it really be that good? Will I end up hating for the mere fact that everyone else loves it?

But alas, I read it and understood what all the fuss was really about. Because believe me when I say, it was really that good.

For me it all goes back to Emer Morrisey. Her story was dare I say is unimaginable and have that come across as a compliment? I was so saturated with her story, I thought about it for days after I’d read the novel. Her character was truly captivating. She is fierce, a force to be reckoned with. As I suppose is Saffron, as well, seeing that she is herself Emer Morrisy, 300 years and 100 canine lives later.

As a dog lover, I found the dog facts to be entertaining and hilariously funny, because they are just so very true. And they add to the over mystique of the novel.

And of course compliments must be made to A.S. King, for her spectacular storytelling ability.
Profile Image for Angela.
755 reviews95 followers
April 6, 2009
I saw this book cover all over the Internet for several weeks but never looked into the storyline because it didn't seem like my kind of book (judging by the cover). Then I read what it was about and saw the trailer and was instantly intrigued. A girl who becomes a pirate, is cursed to live the lives of 100 dogs before resuming human form again and searching for her buried treasure? Pretty cool!

It was a good book but my expectations where high so I was disappointed. It was slow to get into. First I was more interested in present-day Saffron and got bored with the flashbacks to 1650's Irish Emer. Then I got really interested in Emer only to become bored with Saffron. Then the end left me feeling like, "What? That's it?"

I mean, I liked it but I was hoping to love it and I didn't.
Profile Image for Rita.
466 reviews191 followers
September 30, 2013
This was quite an unusual story.

There were pirates, dogs and dog facts, a lot of violence, sex as well as the big loot.

The story is about Emer/Saffron who are trying to retrieve something that was once hers.

I liked how Emer and Saffron are somehow blended together; I always thought of Saffron being Emer and she also was, at least a part of her. But they were still not the same characters.

The 1970's and 1980's were portrayed really great, I really enjoyed Saffron's indifference when being a child; not wanting anything more than her treasure, being stuck in a poor family.

Emer's life is portrayed as well. I like how she grows from this witty little girl to such a fierce and powerful character.

The writing was absolutely beautiful, I didn't expect it not to be after reading Please Ignore Vera Dietz.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
172 reviews7 followers
December 11, 2011
I could not, in good conscience, give this book only one star, because the title and the cover art are just so. dang. fantastic. The book itself completely fails to live up to these two things, and bears little resemblance to what its dust jacket blurb makes it sound like.

If you come across this at a yard sale, pick it up, shelve it somewhere your friends can see it so you can look cool, and then resolutely refuse to let them borrow it.
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