By: Allan Stratton
Expected Publication Date: September 2015
ARC donated by Sourcebooks
Cameron and his mother are always on the run from their abusive father/husband. After a suspicious car shows up by their house, they are on the move again and end up in a small town in a creepy farmhouse. After a couple of taunting remarks from his new classmates, Cameron decides to do some research on his new house and uncovers a possible murder 50 years prior.
Cameron is an excruciatingly unreliable character. His inner monologue over thinks-is this normal behavior or is it weird? He sees and talks to a ghost-does he really see a ghost or is he talking to himself? He and his mother are on the run from his abusive father-is his father really trying to kill them or is his mother paranoid? For 95% of the book, you have NO IDEA what to believe and it’s the reason why this book is good.
On the surface, it’s a book about abuse and how it effects a family. Cameron fights a bully, his research into the house leads him to become a bit stalker-like, and he’s aware that he talks to himself. All of this causes Cameron to fear he is becoming his father. His mother notices a change in him and fears his unstable home life is the cause and of course she blames herself.
Under the surface, the ghost Cameron may or may not be communicating with, has suffered the same fate-parental abuse. And this is where the uncertainty lies. Throughout the entire novel, I wasn’t sure if the haunting was really happening or if it was all in Cameron’s head. At one point I thought Cameron was the ghost and that this book was really in the future. (This is what happens when you read a lot of Andrew Smith and other weird YA).
Then there are the supporting characters. There’s the weird landlord and Cameron’s mom’s new boss, and the Cameron’s bully’s great-grandma/town kook. None of these people are trustworthy.
This book was quite engaging and I found myself yelling out loud, “This is stressing me out, what is going to happen?!” It’s a page turner and you never know if Cameron is telling the truth or if he’s the next town kook or if he’s the ghost. It’s written in a way that once you think you’ve got it all figured out, Stratton throws something else at you and you second guess yourself. Cameron is also second guessing everything so it feels like you as the reader are in the middle of the action.
It’s a great book for MG through YA because there’s hardly anything deemed inappropriate and it’s also a wonderful discussion book for teens.
I highly recommend The Dogs.
Thank you to Sourcebooks for the ARC.