Books · Reviews

DoG by Matt Hlinak ~ A Review

DoG by Matt Hlinak

Published: Bizarro Press, October 2012

Length: 200 pages (eBook edition)

Where Did I Get It? Recieved for review from NetGalley but available for purchase on Amazon

Summary (from Goodreads): Culann Riordan was a high school English teacher with poor impulse control and a taste for liquor. He fled to Alaska before the state could yank his teaching certificate and possibly toss him in jail. He hires on as a commercial fisherman aboard the Orthrus, a dingy vessel crewed by a colorful assortment of outcasts seeking their fortune beyond the reaches of civilization. As he struggles to learn how to survive the rigors of life at sea and the abuses of the crew, he fishes a mysterious orbout of the depths of the ocean and comes into conflict with the diabolical captain of the Orthrus.

If he is to live long enough to see the sunset, Culann must escape from the Captain, survive on an island in the Bering Sea populated only by a pack of feral dogs, find out how to control the orb’s destructive power, and come to grips with his sizable character flaws.

Opening Line:

I don’t know what day it is or how long I’ve been out here or how long it’s been since I found it, so I’m just going to have to call this Day 1.


My Review:
DoG is one of those books that you really enjoy but desperately hope no-one asks you ‘What’s it about?’ because you can’t answer.

I didn’t have the blindest idea what was going on for a good half of the book, I knew the characters names, where they came from and what they wanted but where the story was going and why? Not a clue.

Despite that it was compulsive reading, I raced through it and really enjoyed it. I wanted to know what was going to happen and I wanted to know what was going on.

The main character, I hesitate to call him a hero, Culann is on the run from the police. A former English teacher who had succumbed to his thirst for alcohol and given in to impulses pertaining a sixteen year old girl in his class, he was far from lovable but he was very human and normal. He felt guilt, self-disgust, fear and hope. His flight to a tiny island off the Alaskan coast is filled with the hope that he will find some sort of redemption and a cure for his ‘urges’.

Indeed, his work on a brutal fishing boat seems a fitting punishment, but when he accidentally fishes a mysterious orb out of the sea everything goes a little bit freaky.

The Captain of the boat turns out to be completely mad and everyone on the island succumbs to a mysterious virus, leaving Culann to endure an even greater retribution than the fishing boat, accompanied only by the pack of dogs inhabiting the island.

A clever tale of punishment and reform with a satisfying ending, DoG has a touch of fantasy and a heavy dose of humanity. Very different from everything I have read before it was a curious look at the way people view the world and the journeys we take ourselves on in the name of morals.

My Rating:

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