"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." (Francis Bacon)

Friday, October 08, 2004

Dog Warrior by Wen Spencer

Sometimes, I can't wait to read a book, so much so that if I'm not too far into my current reading and the new book is something I've been waiting for. Such is the case of Dog Warrior.

I've gotten completely hooked by this series -- the Ukiah Oregan series. They aren't great science fiction and they are, unfortunately, marred by errors, usually a half dozen or so grammatical mistakes such as sentences starting with participial clauses with subjects and verbs that don't match. In one sentence in Dog Warrior a word was repeated before and after a preposition, indicating poor proofreading. In another, a character is said to point to a point on a map. Couldn't he have pointed to a spot on the map, instead? This is sloppy writing or sloppy editing.

But I'm a forgiving reader if the author gives me good reason. Wen Spencer gives me many reasons: wonderful characters, a compelling universe with a complex and fascinating alien culture on Earth, and a breezy style that makes everything go down almost painlessly. There's a fan fic feel to these books, the angst, the hurt/comfort that identifies the best fan fiction based on a buddy show. In Dog Warrior, the angst is ratcheted up a level with the introduction of Ukiah's til now unknown brother.

I don't want to give too much away for those of you who haven't read the first three books and might want to try them. Atticus Steele is as alien as Ukiah Oregon. He has the same heightened senses, the same ability to come back from death, the same ability to gain and lose memories through injury, yet he is the flip side of Ukiah, a harder, cynical version. He's what Ukiah could have become if circumstances had been different.

The brothers meet when Atticus, working with a partner on a drug deal, stumbles across Ukiah who has been killed once again (he does that often in the series, at least once a book, it seems). From that point on, nothing in Atticus' life is the same. For the first time, he feels complete, as if he's found something he lost long ago. But a computer search and subsequent events reveal Ukiah's connection to the notorious, criminal biker gang, the Pack, and Atticus' suspicion that Ukiah can't be trusted almost doom both brothers caught in the middle of a brewing alien war. And to say more would give away too much of the fun, because the series depends on continuing storylines from book to book.

If you can overlook sloppy editing and want to read something a bit different, give this series a try. I've recommended it to many people and so far, none of them has been disappointed.