I was looking for a standalone book to read and picked An Oath of Dogs up when it was on sale, so I probably shouldn't complain when I found it to be readable but nothing that especially makes me want to seek out any more of this author's work. I am, however, quite hard to please at the moment so all my current reviews should be taken with a pinch of salt...
The basic premise of An Oath of Dogs is that it's about commercial colonisation of a moon which is immensely different to our own and what happens when that colonisation goes wrong - firstly by the mismanagement of supplies to its first settlers and the lengths they are subsequently driven to, then secondly by attempts to make money off the moon and the problems that causes.
One of our main characters has just landed a job there when she discovers that her immediate superior has been killed and she just got an immediate promotion. Maybe not the best news for her either, since she's still recovering from the effects of an incident that was her employer's fault and now relies heavily on an assistance dog to make it through her day-to-day life. That's also not particularly good news on a moon where dogs have a nasty habit of running wild and digging up anyone who's been recently interred in the community cemetery, not to mention attacking unwary locals.
Our other main character is the ex- of the man who was killed and whose own relationship with the company that employs everyone is ambivalent at best - this relationship is strained to the maximum when he becomes a suspect following an attack by eco-terrorists-, a group towards whom he feels quite a bit of sympathy.
Anyway, everything kind of sort itself out in the end and the truth is revealed, some of which I'd already figured out (since heavy hints were dropped earlier in the book) but it was ultimately a little unsatisfying. So, not the worst thing I've read and ideal if you want something that's not a commitment to a multi-book series, I guess?
In case you haven't noticed, I'm a bit of a geek. Like many geeks, I love lists; reading them, making them, debating them or flat disagreeing with them, I love it all. As such, I have quite a few books that are, basically, "best of" lists. I love these because they point me at good stuff I haven't experienced yet.
It struck me that there are many different ways to compile such a book, each with it's own benefits and drawbacks. So, here are a few different ways of doing it, with examples.
1. Utterly Subjective, Single Author
This style is probably the simplest: You list your favorite examples of a thing and explain why. This is the style I employ on this blog, and the style Ebert employed in his Great Movies series.
Benefits: Ease of writing, pleasantness of experience, enthusiasm, easy to organize.
Drawbacks: No data to fall back on, personal exposure, not authoritative.
You don't have to watch, read, or listen to anything you don't want to, but people can attack you for your opinions (risky in the internet era). Still, it's a lot of fun to just gush about the stuff you love.
2. Attempted Objective, Single Author
Here, the author makes their best stab at an "official" list, compiling examples because of importance, influence, quality, or other criteria based on their own judgement.
Benefits: More comprehensive and authoritative, helpful creative/critical exercise.
Drawbacks: "Why this one and not...", exposure to works that one finds unpleasant, "important" works that don't hold up.
This kind of list is great for the author in two ways: They have to step outside of themselves, and it's a chance to dig into classics they haven't gotten around to (and any purchases are tax-deductible, because it's "research"). Still, they have to slog through some works they don't like, and will still be open to accusations of bias. Hell, they will be biased, no matter how hard they try to avoid it. This will also affect the passion in the writing. And they still don't have concrete data backing them up.
3. Subjective Take on Objective Data, Single Author
Gather data from various polls, interviews or other outside sources, compile a ranking, and then express your opinion of the various works, their placement, etc.
Benefits: Opportunities for snark, exposure to new works, not having to dredge your own brain.
Drawbacks: Frustration, works you may find awful/offensive, disappointment when some of your favorites are low on the list or absent altogether.
This one is just too much work for me, although it would be interesting to, say, watch and review every Best Picture winner, in order. Watching Crash again would be a chore, though.
4. Utterly subjective, Multi-Author
Get a bunch of people to talk about their favorite works. What could possibly go wrong?
Benefits: Less writing, lots of discoveries, high enthusiasm.
Drawbacks: Logistical nightmare, missed deadlines, explaining the concept repeatedly.
Now I just need to find 100 people in the field who have enough time to write a piece, make sure there are no double-ups (two people picking the same subject), editing each piece, communicate with various agents/publishers, etc. If you prefer organizing to writing, not a bad choice, but keeping your ducks in a row can be a bear. Plus, there will be classics/"essentials" that no one picks, but you can blame your contributors for that.
5. Attempted Objective, Multi-Author
You and a cohort come up with a list of classics, then divide and conquer.
Benefits: Lessened workload, interesting conversations, a united front.
Drawbacks: Arguments, resentment.
Doing an SF list but hate Heinlein? You can have your friend write that piece while you review that Ellison collection. Great, but what happens if one of you has a personal crisis? The other has to step up, leading to a potentially unbalanced workload. And the hashing out of the actual list can be both fun and frustrating, while dealing with each other's criticism of your writing styles just might suck. Just kidding, it'll be fine!
6. Subjective Takes on Objective Data, Multi-Author
Gather the pertinent data to compile a list, then get other people in the field to discuss their favorites from said list.
Benefits: Enthusiasm, less writing, hard data.
Drawbacks: Logistical issues, unpicked subjects.
Here, you have the same issues as #4, except you're backed up by data. But what if nobody really wants to write about something on the list? That falls to you, and can lead to some entries having all the verve of a high school book report.
Anyway, thanks for reading this list about books of lists.
This is book #2, in the Frosh series. This book can be read as a standalone novel. To avoid spoilers, and have a better understanding of the series, I recommend reading this in order.
Following the couples of Grant & Ellie, Devon & Charlie, this story continues as we head into further mayhem at school with these adorkable peeps. Grant is through with football and trying to adjust to classes. Charlie is finding he can be more than the nerd.
All the characters must decide if the relationships are worth all the trial and error, to get to the triumph of a solid relationship. Will it be worth it in the end? I was impressed with the pace, the writing, and the solid conflicts. I was excited to turn each page to get to the next parts of the story. I look forward to the next installment in the Frosh series. I give this book a 4/5 Kitty's Paws UP!
***This copy was given in exchange for an honest review, by Netgalley and its publishers.