Review: The Dog Runner by Bren MacDibble
There’s no food left in the city and what food is coming in is being sold at extortionate prices to people in the rich area. Ella and her brother Emery are starving in their part of the city, and they know there is no more food coming. The decide to go to Emery’s Mum who lives in the country.
To get there they must travel vast distances across open land. They manage this by using their dogs – Wolf and Bear, Maroochy, Oyster and Squid – as sled dogs.
There are as many dangers beyond the city’s boundaries as there are inside it, especially for two children out alone with animals other people would eat. How will they survive the journey, and will there be food at the end?
A dystopian look at the near future. The inspiration for this story comes from problems with crop diversity which already exist. Given our rapidly-changing climate and the lack of meaningful action from the world’s governments, this is a future which is all too possible. With every sentece I read, I felt more aware of this. This isn’t only fiction about made-up people. It is about us. Our world.
Bleak? Certainly, but that doesn’t mean boring. Far from it. Emery’s mother is one of the people working to reintroduce indigenous crops to the Australian land. With a diverse range of crops, we wouldn’t rely on the health of a small range of plants. If one failed, there might still be enough food to feed the population.
I cared about Ella from the start. School hasn’t existed for a while, so she’s made it her mission to read every book available in her apartment block. She also cares deeply for her canine friends and sees their potential to aid humans.
The other big question in the story is whether Ella’s Mum and Ella and Emery’s Dad will manage to follow their children. This takes huge twists and turns and I wanted everything to work out for their family.
After loving How To Bee, I knew I would enjoy this, but it confirms Bren MacDibble’s ability and her strong voice in climate fiction for younger readers. We need the next generation to care about climate change like nobody else – a challenge they are rising to far better than most adults – and strong stories are a good place to start.
An intelligent dystopia which brings another aspect of climate change to light.
Thanks to Liz Scott PR and Old Barn Books for my copy of The Dog Runner. Opinions my own.