Editor’s Note: VOX was sent an advance review copy of “Blue’s Prophecy,” the debut novel by 13-year-old Emily Rose Ross, who attends Dickerson Middle School in Cobb County. The book will be available in stores beginning March 21, 2017.
What would happen if man’s best friend made a bid for world domination? What would happen if the family dog grew sentient and angry at its treatment by humankind? What if all you knew about dogs was suddenly very, very wrong?
“Blue’s Prophecy,” a novel written by Emily Rose Ross is about a hotheaded Siberian Husky named Blue who lives in an alley in Atlanta and is suddenly thrown into the task of defeating a vengeful Great Dane in his attempt to start a human holocaust.
An author’s first novel, I feel, is often the best. And since this is Ross’, I was full of interest. I liked this novel. I hadn’t read a novel with non-human characters in along while, so I was a little apprehensive going into this. But Ross’s work has reassured me completely. I love the characters here. They’re so lovable and human. Blue, so spunky and short-tempered, is a product of her environment, and she survives in it well. Robo, in contrast, is perfectly evil with a backstory complicated enough for me to feel the slightest twinge of sympathy for the Great Dane. Raven and Copper, meanwhile, are interesting, offbeat characters who bring out more and more in Blue. In the story, Blue goes from a feisty, abandoned pup who cares only for herself to a dog willing to stand up for others. She gets beat up (a lot) along the way, but she still manages to get back up. I freaking love that about her character.
I have love for Robo because he isn’t some faceless, one-dimensional villain. He has a reason for his behavior and a heart twisted by vengeance and pain. I’m a big fan of villains and Robo’s struggle, charisma and insanity leap right through Ross’s simple, yet rich prose.
And speaking of prose, I love what Emily does with her writing in making you feel for these characters. Though I wish it were a little more descriptive. She has great talent. It only needs a bit more polish to make it shine. I also wish the character Raven was better introduced to readers. It feels random suddenly reading about a dog who can see the future. But I ended up liking his character so much. He’s wry, sarcastic, and offbeat. He’s the wacky mentor in the story, but he’s just what Blue needs to focus.
At first, I felt that this book was organized kind of oddly. We get to know Robo before Blue, but the more I read this novel, the more it started to grow on me. The heroes and villains in this book weren’t born evil or good, they are reacting to circumstance and tragedy. I feel that’s more realistic, and it lends itself well to the novel.
But the book wasn’t entirely perfect for me. The action scenes were pretty good, but I felt there needed to be a bit more “show” and a little less “tell.” Some characters, while specific to certain scenes, sort of get lost in translation for me. Like Ash Dingo, Jenny, and Copper. I understand that they help keep the scene moving, but I wish they were developed a bit more. A human point of view would have cinched it! I couldn’t have imagined all the dogs I knew suddenly ready to plot against me. And I would have loved to know more about Unknown, Robo’s first love who might have had invaluable information that Blue could have used in defeating Robo. She was a part of Robo’s original pack. Wouldn’t she try to stop him? Wouldn’t she know his weaknesses?
I also like the idea of there being a resistance to Robo’s evil forces, but I feel it would be beneficial to see more of how this resistance was formed. Where? When? I like, however, that the book keeps me so invested. Despite its flaws, you see the story developing pretty clearly. The novel’s central theme and conflicts ask us to consider some tough questions. Are dogs pets? Or are they beloved family members? Is it safety or slavery if a dog is collared? What’s a good owner? Should dogs even have owners? Why do we count animals as secondary sentient beings when they could feel the same things we do? This book raises questions!
“Blue’s Prophecy” has genuinely likable characters in a familiar setting (unless you live outside Atlanta) who cope with a harsh lives in very different ways. When reading this novel, I felt a little out of place. I’m not someone who sympathizes particularly well with dogs, or animals in general, but throughout the novel, I could feel Ross’s passion for them. Part of an author’s job is to make us give a damn about her characters. You don’t just go into a novel already in love with them. That’s ludicrous! Like any good relationships, fictional or non fictional, they take time to develop. Emily Rose Ross made me care!
“Blue’s Prophecy” is a compelling literary debut. Hopefully, this turns into series because it leaves room for a myriad of questions to hopefully be answered in sequels. I hope to see more of Ross’ work in the near future. When you see this book in the store next March, make sure to pick it up. It’s worth it!
For more info on Ross and “Blue’s Prophecy,” visit the novel’s official website.
Catherine is a freshman at Georgia State University-Perimeter. She loves fried jalapeños and growing green tomatoes.