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Review: Rotten by Michael Northrop

Title: Rotten
Author: Michael Northrop
Year Published: 2013

Genre: YA Fiction
Pages: 246
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location (my 2013 Google Reading map): USA (New York?)

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school library

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): A troubled teen. A rescued rottweiler. An unlikely friendship.

Jimmer "JD" Dobbs is back in town after spending the summer "upstate." No on believes his story about visiting his aunt, and it's pretty clear that he has something to hide. It's also pretty clear that his mom made a new friend while he was away--a rescued Rottweiler that JD immediately renames Johnny Rotten (yes, after that guy in the Sex Pistols). Both tough but damaged, JD and Johnny slowly learn to trust each other, but their newfound bond is threatened by a treacherous friend and one snap of Johnny's powerful jaws. As the secrets JD has tried so hard to keep under wraps start to unravel, he suddenly has something much bigger to worry about: saving his dog.

Review: I enjoyed both of Michael Northrop's other books that I've read, Trapped and Gentlemen, so I was pleased to see this book in our latest shipment to the library. All three of his books are really different from one another and this one will appeal to both boys and girls.

What I like about Northrop's characters is that they are "normal" high school students. They aren't extreme in any way, they plod through life dealing with girlfriends (or lack thereof), have family lives that aren't violent or perfect, have friends (and sometimes issues with them), and school isn't the highlight of their day. The characters aren't goodie two-shoes or really stellar either. They just are. They are the middle-ground kids. And I like them. They are realistic and I can relate to the things that happen to them.

The story is a good one, too. We've all got things we don't share with everyone so we can empathize with JD about his summer experience (and yes, the reader does get all the details eventually). Most of us have had a pet of some variety and perhaps have had to deal with the illness or death of a pet (I am not saying Rotten dies, but there is tension in that area). In the summary of the book it mentions that Rotten bites someone so I am not giving anything away by mentioning it. Years ago I was bit by a dog and I have to say I wanted it put down (I was bite number 3), but I was rooting for Rotten all the way in this book!

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