The Dog Runner

Allen & Unwin
ISBN: 9781760523572
The Book of the Year: Younger Readers 2020 Notable
A fast-paced and compelling narrative set in a clearly established harrowing dystopian world. The reader becomes engaged with the plight of the children, wanting them to survive their challenging ordeal. They encounter a range of obstacles, many in the form of adults with ill intention, as they seek to reunite with their parents and safety. The narrative is the strength of the novel. The characters are authentic; Ella and Emery are brave and resourceful throughout and have much to learn. Both key protagonists are appealing, easily likable and also flawed, which adds to their authenticity. Ella’s voice, as narrator, uses a distinct grammatical style and the language throughout is pared down. The writing is beautiful and strong. The use of descriptive language adds depth to the reading experience. Themes of protecting the environment and valuing Australian Indigenous culture emerge through the action, and the notion of grass seeds as a metaphor for finding one’s place is suggested in the last chapter.