Dogsbody by Diana Wynne Jones.
Greenwillow Books: NY, 1988.
Originally published in Great Britain, 1975.

The star Sirius is convicted of murder of another star by a panel of celestial judges. He is sentenced to life on Earth as a dog and compelled to find the missing Zoi (meteorite with powers) used to kill the luminary. If he can locate it, his sentence will be terminated and his position reinstated.

Born into a litter of pups that is thrown into a river, Sirius struggles free of the bag and is brought home by Kathleen, an Irish girl living with her uncle's family in Britain. She saves him, and he in return is her companion in an uncomfortable household. Learning to manage in the family and town, Sirius searches for the Zoi and learns the real culprit is trying to kill him. Through his searching he meets townspeople and the rest of the litter of pups.

Three things struck me about this book. All of the celestial bodies are personalities (Sirius, Polaris, Earth, Moon, Sol, etc). Sol and Earth are the two having the most contact with Sirius in the story, and therefore stronger descriptions. I liked this aspect of the book. It is mostly a starting point, but because it is so different it makes a big impression. Next, Sirius's life as a dog - having to adjust to the new form and feelings. Much of the story is about the challenges of adapting, reminding me of Eva, though Dogsbody was published first. He's a dog with uncommon intelligence. He cannot speak to Kathleen, but he learns language well enough to understand speech. Lastly, is the relationships. There is maybe a little too much of the clich´e; mistreatment of dog and Irish girl, but the interaction between the dog and girl, dog and cats, and dog and townspeople fills in the gaps between action moments. The story has a slower pace than what is usual nowadays, but it thoroughly portrays the dog life, which I found to be more interesting than the adventure aspect, although I was interested in knowing what would happen when the Zoi was found.

Of note is that the book was published in 1975 and does not feel aged. I completely enjoyed Sirius's character and thoughts, his warring of dog and luminary natures, his conflicts of interest (ex. comforting Kathleen vs searching for the Zoi).

related-stars, science fiction/fantasy, mystery, dogs, relationships between animals and humans, pets
RL=5th and up

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