Saturday, December 22, 2012

Review: The Call of the Wild

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The Call of the WildThe Call of the Wild by Jack London
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's probably fair to say that I found The Call of the Wild late in my reading life, and it's embarrassing to admit that when I picked it up, I had no idea that I was going to be reading a classic told from a dog's point of view. Yes, I know. I have been living under a rock for most of my life and never even realized it. Actually, that explains a lot of things. Even though Buck, a sturdy mutt who goes from quiet suburban life to the Alaskan wilderness, narrates this survival tale, Jack London's writing remains strong and close to the human emotions and bonds in a harsh place.

For those of you who have been living under a rock, like me, The Call of the Wild follows Buck's transformation from pet to working dog to leader of the pack. The Klondike Gold Rush prompts a high demand for good sled dogs, and one of his master's employees decides Buck is perfect sled dog material. So, he sells him to some unsavory people who dognap Buck, and take him to an isolated place where he is "broken" into a working dog. From there, Buck passes from owner to owner. Along the way, he meets other dogs and people who develops cautious working relationships with, but in general, he keeps his guard up until he meets John Thornton. He and John form a close friendship and Buck remains with John for the remainder of John's life. Toward the end, Buck feels the wild drawing him away from his friend, but refuses to give-in completely until he loses his master.

Like all good dog books, this one has several tear-jerking passages where horrible things happen to dogs and their owners, but compared to some of Jack London's short stories, this one is relatively up-lifting. It may not be the best thing to read in the winter though.

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