The Glorious Path wants complete control of the country. Those they capture are give the choice: Join or Be Killed.
Fifteen-year-old Callum Roe and his younger brother, James, were captured by the Glorious Path -- a militant religion based on the teachings of a former U.S. soldier -- and forced to join six years ago. As a war rages between the Path and what's left of the U.S. government, Cal gets along by working in the Path's dog kennels. But soon Cal is presented with an opportunity to move up in the Path's ranks, putting him on the verge of becoming one of the Path's deadliest secret agents.Then Cal befriends a stray dog named Bear and kills a commander who wants to train Bear to be a vicious attack dog. This sends them both on the run, and sets in motion a series of incredible events that will test Cal's loyalties and end in a fierce battle that the fate of the entire country rests on.
--From the book jacket
This isn't a bad book, but it took me a very long time to read. Partly because it is a physical book, I think. At night I mostly read on my Kindle because it is more convenient. But I also think the plot just wasn't that compelling. The blurb on the book jacket (see above) sounds very exciting. But the story just didn't live up to the excitement. Maybe if I had read just this book all at once, it would have been more enjoyable.
The bond between Cal and Bear really touched me. Once Bear trusted Cal, he was a faithful companion and would never leave Cal's side. But I just didn't get some of the actions Cal took when it came to Bear. Even though one time especially it was for Bear's own good, it really bothered me.
Nathan Hill wasn't a very scary villain and we didn't get to know him enough to feel his motives or to hate him. I hated the organization (The Path) more than I hated Hill. I get why Cal and James agreed to join, they didn't want to die. But it seemed like others could have fought back and didn't. The book tells us that Hill was very persuasive and his followers practically worship him. I think that is how James becomes a believer. They are taken at a young age; Cal was 9 and James was younger but I don't remember exactly how much younger. And maybe Cal was able to resist Hill's teachings but James needed something to believe in.
The end was predictable to a point. But I was really disappointed by part of it.
When James shot Nathan Hill to protect his brother, I thought he knew who he was shooting and I was glad he chose his brother over the leader of the Path. But, when James admitted that he didn't know who it was, he just wanted to save his brother, well, I realized that he was still brainwashed. And that was disappointing.
I do like that the final ending of the book wasn't cut and dried. You don't know exactly what happens to Cal, James & Bear, but you have hope that they will be okay.
Fans of young adult dystopian fiction or fans of the author Jeff Hirsch.