I think I’m finally approaching the end of books I read for the Cybils award! No guarantees, but here at least is a fun, fast-paced story, especially for fans of giant robot dogs.
Watchdog by Will McIntosh. Delacorte, 2017.
In a post-apocalyptic, near-future Chicago, homeless pre-teen twins Vick and Tara mine the mountains of trash in the street for a living. Vick has asthma and no access to more medication when he runs out, while Tara’s autism severely affects how they can interact with people. Tara excels, though, at finding potentially valuable items in the trash heap and at making them into robots – she’s made a super-smart robot dog called Daisy who can help him. She’s so good, though, that it brings the twins to the attention of the sinister, child-slave keeping Ms. Alba, who runs a large workshop where children make giant robotic watchdogs for sale.
This is an exciting book, with lots of chases and battles involving kids, bad guys, and robots both good and bad. Despite the battles, there are no deaths, making this good for readers who want excitement but aren’t ready for the high body counts so common in books for older readers. I appreciated both Tara’s expertise with making robots and that Vick learns to be less protective of her over the course of the book – she may be different, but she doesn’t need a savior. Post-apocalyptic/dystopian isn’t my personal cup of tea, but overall book popularity proves me in the minority here. Robot dogs add even more to the strong kid appeal.
In the interests of full disclosure, I will note that while I read this from a library copy as is my usual habit, the author also contacted me and offered to send me a copy for review.