Ever read so many books that you lose track?
About a month ago, I saw Christopher Slater's debut novel, Pup, on my Kindle and I started reading it. It grabbed me immediately, but I also had zero recollection of having requested it from NetGalley. It turns out that I didn't request it. I had requested a different book published by The Story Plant, but there was a mix-up with the downloads on Netgalley. I wrote to both NetGalley and The Story Plant to resolve the issue.
I received a very kind email response from Lou Aronica (President and Publisher of The Story Plant), who not only sent me a copy of the story that I should have received, but who approved my request to officially review Pup, since I was already enjoying it so much. It was a happy mix-up. Thanks Lou!
PLOT - Pup is narrated in first person by John Z. Pupulowinazowski (Pup), a college-aged kid who is drafted to fight in the second Korean War, which presumably occurs in our near future. Pup retells his war adventure to his children in a style that's a bit like the sitcom How I Met Your Mother. This is a story of unlikely heroism, dumb luck and unexpected romance.
LIKE- The strongest element of Slater's story is Pup's voice. He is a hilarious commentator of the world around him. It's never explicitly stated, but it's inferred that Pup might be mildly autistic. He is task oriented and lacks the ability to read the social cues of others. His situational "dumb luck" is reminiscent of Forrest Gump. Pup is constantly getting himself into a pickle that he manages to escape in the most unlikely way. It's not realistic, but it works in the realm of this story world.
I enjoyed the transformation of the fellow soldiers, who went from picking on Pup, to valuing his friendship. Pup is such a darn likeable and innocent character ( I mean his nickname is Pup for goodness sakes, who doesn't like puppies?) that the likeablity drives the story. I kept wanting to read to make sure that he would be okay. He has a sweet romance with a Japanese woman named Mayumi, who is only slightly less of a disaster than Pup. It's a perfect match.
DISLIKE- I would have liked more context for the war. There is some background information, when Pup is put on the spot in front of the troops and is asked to explain why he thinks that they're fighting. Still though, I didn't feel like it was enough to satisfy my curiosity. This is a minor complaint in an otherwise wonderful debut.
RECOMMEND- Yes! Pup is such a fun read and I look forward to Slater's next novel. Give this strong debut a spot on your bookshelf.