Rarely, does a book cover fit the novel as well as it does in the case of No Dogs in Philly. The title itself, though bold, holds in comparison to Saru, the girl on the cover. One cannot help but feel drawn to Saru; such compulsion towards Saru mirrors the compulsion a reader will feel throughout the book. Compulsion towards what, you might be asking. It’s a compulsion to devour the book, to read more about Saru, a compulsion to then reread No Dogs in Philly over and over again.
Impossible to be categorized into one genre, No Dogs in Philly is a compelling blend of cyberpunk, sci-fi, and crime noir. Andy Futuro reimagines Philadelphia as a dark city teeming with cops and other-worldly Gaespora. Yet in this decrepit wasteland is an unfolding story. Saru has a way out — she only has to find a girl with eyes impossibly blue. Of course, no quest is ever easy. Someone is killing blue-eyed girls, and that someone is A-list skilled.
Many dystopian and futuristic books are not character-driven; No Dogs in Philly is not one of those novels. I was first drawn into the novel not by the plot, but by the main character Saru. Though her distant and often ill-tempered manner render her nearly unlikable, those very qualities intrigued me. Saru is strong and tough-as-nails, yet she also happens to mask much of her personality. (Recall Paul Dunbar’s “We Wear the Mask.”) Saru’s development– in particular the letting go of the mask– is definitely worth the read.
I’ve called so many books “dark and gritty,” but I’ve never meant it as much as I have for No Dogs in Philly. Whereas other books do not fully commit to a “dark” tone, Andy Futuro is consistent with the dark tone. From the heavy drinking Saru does to cope to the concise, tight prose and fast-paced plot, it’s clear that the author truly knows what he’s doing. Though at times I found No Dogs in Philly‘s plot unfocused, overall I was convinced by the story’s urgency.
One thing I found issue with was the length. At only 166 pages, No Dogs in Philly is definitely a short-read. Although in some cases brevity improves a body of work, this was not the case for No Dogs in Philly. I felt the author could have expounded on his world building; his curt descriptions detract from his overall solid novel.
That being said, No Dogs in Philly is definitely a great read for when you want to get really creeped out!
Rating: 7 out of 10
Publisher: June Day Press (August 10th, 2014)
ISBN #: 9781500735630
Length: 166 pages (paperback)
Source: Copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review