Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier

18310373Expected publication: February 4th 2014 by Strange Chemistry

Another very good book from the publishers Strange Chemistry.You know this feeling when something could have been perfect if it weren’t for some minor details that just don’t feel right.

So let’s start with what I really liked about the story:

The werewolves / black dogs
Awesome. Really. That was a new take on werewolves and a good one. They are brutal, violent and not to be trifled with. It was interesting to read about the way they interact among themselves, their sense of hierarchy and submission, how they fight and how they live.

The world building
Another interesting point is the situation they are in right now: After a hard war with the Vampires, who are now extinct, the black dogs still suffer from their losses. There are a lot of rogues, roaming freely and with the lack of enforcers the situation for the established ruling packs throughout the world is getting more and more difficult. It is time for change, time to redraft futile rules, time to think differently. Not so very easy for creatures who can’t change the very nature of their beasts. This setup was well integrated into the story and kept me interested throughout the book.

Rachel Neumeier’s Black Dog has its strengths but also a few weaknesses:

Why oh why does it have to be Young Adult?
This book would have been so much more engaging, so much better if the main characters were at least 18 or older. Natividad and her twin Miguel are both 15 years old. Their Brother Alejandro is 18. When their parents are slaughtered by enemy black dogs Natividad and her brothers are forced to find shelter with the infamous black dogs of Dimilioc.
What gritted me so much is that Natividad must choose a black dog mate. The only ones available are Grayson, the leader of the black dogs, who is at least 35 and Ezekiel, the executioner of the pack who is also the strongest fighter. Ezekiel is younger but even he is at least 5-6 years older than Natividad whose 16th birthday will be in 4 months.
Because of the more than uncomfortable premise and the age difference, the romance in this book is “on-hold” and almost non-existent. I personally would have wished for a more romantic love interest. Navi’s interaction with Grayson has the feeling of a father/daughter relationship but her interaction with Ezekiel isn’t one of romance either. He wants her for himself, not because of love or anything but rather because she is one of the very rare Pures.
In the end nothing is really solved in that regard and I suspect this is the start of series, or at least there will be another book coming and we will get more of Alejandro and Natividad.

The ramblings of a 15-year old Mary Sue
The book is told from two points of view: Alejandro and his sister, but with a slightly bigger focus on Alejandro and his struggles to fit in with the pack and protecting his siblings at the same time. What I missed completely was at least a bit of the story told from Miguel’s perspective. He is the sole human in this story and completely left out of the action.
Navi was hard to follow. Her language is full of insecurities and she is your typical Mary Sue: She is young, naturally beautiful, of course she is special and saves the day, can calm everybody down; all the male characters are attracted to her / want her for different reasons.

Apart from that I really enjoyed reading this nonetheless. The story was very interesting, fast paced and engaging. And if there is a second book coming out after this I will sure be reading it.

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