A troubled teen. A rescued Rottweiler. An unlikely friendship.
Jimmer “JD” Dobbs is back in town after spending the summer “upstate.” No one believes his story about visiting his aunt, and it’s pretty clear that he has something to hide. It’s also pretty clear that his mom made a new friend while he was away—a rescued Rottweiler that JD immediately renames Johnny Rotten (yes, after that guy in the Sex Pistols). Both tough but damaged, JD and Johnny slowly learn to trust each other, but their newfound bond is threatened by a treacherous friend and one snap of Johnny’s powerful jaws. As the secrets JD has tried so hard to keep under wraps start to unravel, he suddenly has something much bigger to worry about: saving his dog.
(Description from Goodreads)
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I’m a huge animal lover, so the minute I saw the cover of this book, I knew I had to read it. Of course, it also concerned me at first because of the choice of dog on the front. Rottweilers are classified under the “bully” breeds, which really is a stupid category anyway; other dogs that fall under the “bully” breed category are the American Pit Bull Terriers and the German Shepherds, which is absolutely ridiculous. I hate it when people automatically think a dog is unfit to be a pet, just because of its breed; any animal can become mean, based on the treatment it receives from humans, just like any human can become mean based on the treatment he or she receives from others. But I digress, as I am getting away from my review. Just wanted to get my feelings out there.
For anyone else who may be interested in reading this book, but are leery of doing so because they are afraid of what happens to the dog, I’ll tell you this much…the ending did NOT upset me, so that should tell you something about it.
Anyway, I liked the fact that this book was written from a teenage boy’s perspective; there aren’t too many YA books out there that are told from a guy’s point of view, so it’s always refreshing to find one that is. JD, the protagonist, is an average teenager with some negative aspects about him that tend to land him in hot water, especially as of recent in the book. He’s been gone the whole summer where he claims he has been with his aunt, but no one believes him…I don’t think even he believes himself. Upon his return, he’s “greeted” by the newest member of his small family, Johnny, a rescued Rottweiler. For anyone who has never had an experience with a rescued animal before, it sometimes takes a while for them to warm up to people, as they usually came from a poor environment. JD experienced this firsthand when Johnny was incredibly skittish around him.
Of course my favorite character is going to be Johnny; would be absolutely weird for me to say that an animal wasn’t my favorite character, especially if they played such a crucial part in the story. I’m still not sure how I feel about JD though. While he did act like a typical teenage guy, he just also seemed to be incredibly immature for someone his age. Several times there were moments when JD could have just said something different and the outcome would have totally changed, but I suppose there wouldn’t be a story to that if he did. However, after getting more and more into the book, JD started to grow on me some; I guess I just happened to get used to how he was and it became okay in my mind. I will say that even though he came off as being a sometimes rude, it was easy to tell that he really was a good character deep down. This was easy to see as the relationship between JD and Johnny developed; it was more than “a boy and his dog” type of story and was more of a “we saved each other” story.
Such as life, especially in high school, there were betrayals of friendship. It was heartbreaking to watch JD go through having to deal with some of his friends turning on him, especially when it affected the relationship between JD and Johnny so much. I do think that if JD had told his friends about where he really was during the summer, most (if not all) of the bad things that happened later on in the book could have been avoided; again though, that wouldn’t leave for much of a story, so it served its purpose. I do think that the mystery of where JD really was actually added something extra to the story, so it’s probably a good thing he didn’t tell his friends about where he was until did.
As much as I appreciated the ending, I do think it was a bit rushed and not very realistic. I won’t say why I feel this way, since that would give away the ending, but I feel like the ending fell into the YA fluff category; I will say though that I was very happy with the ending, so I really can’t complain. If you like animals and enjoy YA, this is a pretty good read. It does take some getting used to the nature of the different characters, but it’s well worth it.