Customer Reviews


54 Reviews
5 star:
 (18)
4 star:
 (14)
3 star:
 (7)
2 star:
 (9)
1 star:
 (6)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hunderdemmerung
I came away from Lives of the Monster Dogs most wistful. Sometime in the near future, according to author Kristen Bakis, the great Monster Dogs would leave thier north Canada village, and bring thier Victorian elegance, thier Frankenstein bodies, thier doomed lives to Gotham*s refuge of New York City. The story line is alternated largely between the sad German...
Published on 27 May 1999

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dog's breakfast
Lives Of The Monster Dogs came decked with words like "Dazzling", "Moving", "Brilliant" and so on on its cover. None of which really do justice to the sheer badness of the book within.

You would think that a book about genetically modified, bipedal dogs with the gift of speech arriving in New York could not fail, but it does, rather badly.

It is...
Published on 25 Oct. 2008 by lurgee


‹ Previous | 1 26 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hunderdemmerung, 27 May 1999
By A Customer
I came away from Lives of the Monster Dogs most wistful. Sometime in the near future, according to author Kristen Bakis, the great Monster Dogs would leave thier north Canada village, and bring thier Victorian elegance, thier Frankenstein bodies, thier doomed lives to Gotham*s refuge of New York City. The story line is alternated largely between the sad German Sheppard Ludwig, and a young (human) woman who becomes thier intermediary for most of the outside world. Much is made (too much?)of the life of thier mad creator and *father* August Rank, he learns, he experiments, he kills his half-brother. (Though it is never stated so in the book, I wonder if the young woman is descended from the brother*s posthumous child.) We are given the remote town Rank and his Dogs flee to, the opera written of its rebellion and destruction; in New York the Monster Dogs hold a parade in the snow, build a fairybook castle. And all the while the Dogs are slowly going mad and dying (with the odd exception of a female Samoyed). There exists no fully driving storyline, much of the book exists in retrospective, in describing its portrait of an ultimately doomed society; the beauty is that this techinique is so effective. Ludwig tries, in increasing desparation, to convey his loneliness, his fears to his human friend. I come away wishing the Monster Dogs were real, that such wonders could really invade our simian world. At best, there is only a dark, beautiful glimpse.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dog's breakfast, 25 Oct. 2008
By 
lurgee (New Zealand) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lives of the Monster Dogs (Paperback)
Lives Of The Monster Dogs came decked with words like "Dazzling", "Moving", "Brilliant" and so on on its cover. None of which really do justice to the sheer badness of the book within.

You would think that a book about genetically modified, bipedal dogs with the gift of speech arriving in New York could not fail, but it does, rather badly.

It is written in a very flat style and though Kirsten Bakis employs heaps of different narrators (A young New Yorker human, diaries written by the crazed creators of the dogs, letters and papers written by one of the dogs, even the libretto of an opera written by the dogs), none of them are terribly distinctive or interesting. The parts supposedly written by the dogs don't feel very doggy. The parts written by the human, Cleo, are bland. For some reason, we are told what Cleo is wearing every third page or so. WE DON'T WANT TO KNOW WHAT SHE IS WEARING, WE WANT THE DOGS! But when we get them, we find they are really just as banal as she is.

(ASIDE: Would the only journalist given privileged access to the secret dealings of the dogs, really have titled their first article, "Doggy Style"? Really?)

Even the denouemont is hopelessly fluffed. I won't say more, incase someone is foolhardy enough to try and read this book despite what I have written, but the grand finale did have potential. But not here. Once again, we get inane dialogue and unnecessary descriptioon of Cleo's clothing.

Look, I really wanted to like this, simply because it was such an unusual idea, but I really can't find it in me to give it two stars. Absurd + original + tragic would usually get two stars, but not in this case. Deep apologies to Ms Bakis, and well done on trying something, but please, reconsider the manifests of Cleo's wardrobe.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting idea with no support., 26 Aug. 1998
By A Customer
This book's premise drew me in. What a wonderful idea! I was expecting to learn about these creatures and what they thought and how they felt in their final hours. The relationships with humans also held promise. What was actually delivered was a watery stroy, false relationships and a lot of blathering on about the narrators hard life with no a/c. I give the author all due credit for coming up with an original idea and some interesting and engaging characters, such as Lydia, but I have to say that the story did not due the idea justice and in the end, I felt no closer to caring about the dogs or the peolple than I did in the first paragraph. Too many unanswered questions and assumptions into the relationships.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars To me, 3-stars means "good", and that's it for this book., 22 Jun. 1998
By A Customer
I'm not a sci-fi/fantasy reaser, normally. I went into this book with an open mind, and enjoyed the idea quite a bit. All along, even after the first chatper or two, I thought that having the idea is nice, but what will she do to gel the idea into a full story? A complete idea? To fully marry the plot, characters, and action into something coherent and real, insomuch as this type of book can be? Well, she fell a little short, but did had some success.
The shortfall was the point of the story. Oh, I could see the overall point by reading the book jacket, but that isn't enough. Where is the meat to the book? The depth? There are simply too many holes in the story, which I won't delve into since others already have, for the story to be fully realized. Despite the years that she spent writing this, it needs more work, and is typical of the great-idea, average-execution that one often sees in writing, film, and the other arts. But, Bakis' creativity is a huge strength. I came close to giving up until I got to the opera. How beautiful! I know it was funny -- the mere idea of the Monster Dog Opera is. But, the opera also did more to advance the story of the dog's background, the point of their suffering, the acuteness of their moral dilemnas, the contradictions of their history, and in highlighting the difficulties that the dogs would ever have in fully becoming a part of human society, than did any of the fairly dull conversations, and attempted conversations, between Cleo and Ludwig. That section alone made the book worthwhile for me. As to whether or not the reader of this review will like it -- who knows? But, I will at least read the jacket of her next book, and come back to this forum for recommendations. Not great, but promising.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a beautifully realized idea, 6 July 1997
By A Customer
When I saw all of the negative reviews (below) for thisbeautifully realized book, I felt obliged to add my two cents here. Bakis is too young to be a great writer. But she does so much so well with a fairly simple idea that IMHO she deserves all the praise she's gotten in the dead trees media. I read _Lives of the Monster Dogs_ while in the middle of writing a tech book for Macmillan (_Database Backed Web Sites_). For weeks afterwards, I kicked myself for working on the Web book for nerds. If I couldn't write as well as Bakis then at least I could try. What was the point of churning out a tutorial when life is so short and art is so beautiful?
Anyway, I sold out in the end and finished my tech book and haven't worked on my novel. Here's what I wrote for my friends about Bakis's book...
This is science fiction in the tradition of H.G. Wells and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Written by a young woman living in Manhattan, it is about a young woman living in the Manhattan of the year 2009 when 150 dogs laden with jewels and gold arrive in the city from a remote town in northwestern Canada. The dogs have artifical hands and voiceboxes and, because they are rich, are accepted to a large degree by the human society. They end up with fancy apartments, limousines, and human servants. But happiness is more elusive. The book makes you think about what it means to be an outsider. Bakis has a convincing way of getting inside the head of a dog (though her Malamute has blue eyes, a disqualifying fault according to the AKC). One great touch is that the future is exactly like the present. Occasionally, Bakis has people talk casually about a fabric or fashion that we don't have. Otherwise, New York is exactly the same. The poor and young roast in unairconditioned flats; the rich (dogs or otherwise) cruise by in huge limousines. Bakis gets bonus points for writing in a Samoyed bitch who receives love poetry from a scruffy mongrel.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ruff-ruff fluff in a frock-coat., 3 Nov. 2000
By 
Luke Martin (Sydney, Australia) - See all my reviews
If you've ever read "Frankenstein" or seen "Beaches", then you'll know what this is about. It's the story of the a group of physically- and mentally-modified dogs as they leave a remote village in Canada after a bloody coup and come to New York to establish themselves in society, build castles and perform opera. The dogs walk upright, have prosthetic hands and voiceboxes, and manage to affect 18th-century Prussian costume well enough to provide a source of constant intrigue to the less-canine New Yorkers, especially a young journalist named Cleo, the only human to come close to the pack. While it sometimes dips into shaky territory, quality-wise, Bakis displays enough belief in her own creation to make sure it never falls into schmaltz. It's fluff, to be sure, but it's fluff that you won't berate yourself for reading. Hell; they're talking dogs! Give it a go.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Is it a dog's life?, 4 Feb. 2014
By 
Christopher Sullivan (edinburgh) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
On November 7th 2008 a phone call is made to various journalists announcing that an ‘incredible monster’ would be arriving at the V.I.P. heliport in Manhattan the following day. On November 8th the helicopter lands and stepping from the helicopter dressed in a dark coloured uniform style jacket, wearing spectacles and holding a cane is a six foot tall Malamute dog standing on its hind legs. It’s reported that instead of front paws the dog has hands and that it talks. After this arrival 150 more ‘monster dogs’ appear in New York after having left a secret location in Canada some years earlier.
The novel moves between the Cleo Pira’s reminiscences of her time as the monster dog’s official biographer and the diary and papers of Ludwig von Sacher, the monster dog’s historian. It is through Ludwig that we learn the story of Augustus Rank, the man who created the monster dogs. As a child the brilliant Augustus Rank would surgically operate on small animals trying to create, ‘Frankenstein’ like, a hybrid of birds and mice; more specifically, attempting to transplant the wings of birds onto mice. At the age of thirteen he successfully removes the forelegs of a cow and reattachments them on opposite sides. This activity brings him to the attention of a Dr. Buxtorf a professor of surgery at the University of Basle. Sometime after that Rank, under the patronage of Wilhelm II, begins to work on creating an army of monster dogs.
Kirsten Bakis’s novel can be read as an allegory, a fable or a satire. And with all due credit to the author it works on all levels. The novel is a superb, strange, fascinating tale that can be amusing, heartbreaking and thought provoking. The novel examines the polar opposites of love and hate, fear and bravery, life and death, abandonment and cherishing and how we as animals attempt to face them all.
In less capable hands this bizarre debut novel could so easily have become a pretentious, dishonest congealed mess of a book but Kirsrten Bakis has successfully tiptoed through that particular minefield that is deeply littered with the dead, forgotten bodies of many a novel.
Honesty is what separates this book from the chaff. The character development and dialogue felt true and straight and unlike so many novels written in the past twenty years it didn’t feel like the novelist was writing the story with one eye on it being a Hollywood screenplay.
The novel moves smoothly between the gothic horror of Ludwig’s biographical telling of Augustus Rank’s tale of losing his loving mother, being abandoned by his father and his pathological surgical experiments and the modern day experiences of Cleo Pira’s encounters with the monster dogs. The author balances the two stories like a veteran funambulist, both storylines as interesting and compelling as the other.
This electrifying novel will remain wrapped in the synapses of your brain for a long time after you have read the last page. Those synaptic signals will cause you to never look at dogs in the same way again.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars Misplaced Focus Undoes a Promising Story, 2 May 2009
By 
Atli Hafsteinsson (Reykjavík, Iceland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lives of the Monster Dogs (Paperback)
Lives of the Monster Dogs is essentially two books. Ludwig von Sacher's story speaks of the past, of assorted documents and blanks that even the desperate German Shepherd and historian can't fill in. Cleo Pira's story is that of a young, aimless woman who becomes almost subconsciously involved in the world of this race of monster dogs that literally appear right out of nowhere in modern-day New York. These two stories interweave throughout this interesting, poetic novel.

Meeting in the present day New York (2008, when apparently laser guns were supposed to have become pretty common), Cleo and Ludwig meet and form an odd yet somehow enduring friendship. Cleo finds herself caught up in the sad story of these dogs, created by a mad German scientist named Augustus Rank in a hidden town in Canada for the intention of combat. But because the process took more than a century, he died long before the dogs were perfected and as such they have no purpose. Having rebelled against their masters, they roamed the Canadian wilderness until they decided to enter New York. Though they are well-received, the dogs' story is becoming ever shorter, and Cleo is taken for the final ride.

Bakis has a real talent at presenting a story in an interesting way. In this book alone we experience many different ways of looking at things - matter-of-factly, dream-like or in some unspeakable void between the two. Which, oddly, is where we hit the book's principle problem - the plot is drowned by the very poetic and colourful prose. Where we hit the present day, events are explained matter-of-factly, yet feelings and states-of-mind draw the reader in. The reader hardly believes what's happening, because it doesn't feel as though the book tries to.

It's very easy for me to lash out against this novel for its obvious flaws and yet equally easy for me to go into full defence and to not hear anything against it. This story is interesting, has a lot of depth to it, but half of it is in the hands of a character more obsessed by her own problems than with the story the reader is waiting to hear. There is a lot of dialogue that serves no real purpose. When something does happen, it's easy to miss because the reader is immersed in the almost psychological prose. This makes the book very interesting but also very frustrating.

My favourite parts of the book are in the hands of Ludwig. First, the diary entries of Mops Hacker, who invented a particular Roman-numeral diary system despite his grammar not being the best. Yet even that pales in comparison to a section in the closing segments of the book, in letters Ludwig sends to Cleo. These letters are indescribable ponderings about existence and the undercurrents of life. As I read these, I can't help but be amazed at Bakis's talent at drawing out unforgettable imagery. It's just a shame that the rest of the book, with the plot and the tragic end of the story of the dogs, isn't done as much justice. Characters that emit a lot of warmth such as Luitpold leave me with big regret that we don't get to delve deeper into them, because we barely do. I never really perceive the bond these characters are supposed to share. A lot of things happen around Cleo, and the reader even picks it up, yet something about the way we see it through her eyes makes it a frustrating ride - like being on a roller coaster where the dives are in all the wrong places.

Make no mistake, Lives of the Monster Dogs is an unforgettable book. Just the cover - that of Luitpold, drawn by Bakis herself - drew me in when I glanced it at my local library. The story is sad, enthralling and sometimes grotesque. What I am left with upon finishing the book is that I have only touched the surface; that I was watching a movie that I somehow forgot to pay attention to. Put more bluntly, I feel a sense of anticlimax. Lives of the Monster Dogs is more a piece of art than a novel.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars To see ourselves as others may see us, 19 Feb. 2009
By 
Lives of the Monster Dogs may owe much to Mary Shelley and H.G Wells but it is a unique experience, well imagined and delivered.

The Monster Dogs are surgically and biologically advanced canines - ranging from malamutes to bulldogs - whose origins are traced back to the nineteenth century, when a deranged but brilliant scientist dreamed of creating an army of dog soldiers.

His vision comes to pass in the 21st century, his fanatical devotees creating the first monster dogs in an isolated community in Canada. Exactly how this is achieved is never explained but as the monster dogs themselves have no idea of how the came into being this fits perfectly with the narrative.

The monster dogs are used as slaves but soon rise up and overturn their masters, then head for New York to set up home. As odd as talking dogs who walk upright would seem, their strangeness is confounded by the fact the remote community they escaped from still lived like 19th century Germans so the dogs' manners and dress sense reflects that period.

The novel centres around the young female journalist who befriends the monster dogs, her experiences with them and her attempts to understand their world. Their world is haunted by memories of life before intellect was grafted onto their minds, of being playful pups or being beaten by cruel masters. Their world is ephemeral - they realise humans will never accept them and that their race is doomed.

Lives of the Monster Dogs is brief but packs much into 304 pages. Intelligence reveals the beauty and sophistication of the world but it also reveals sorrow and fear. The human condition, seen through the eyes of another species, is stripped bare as the dogs struggle to make sense of their existance and how best to protect it.

The Monster Dogs themselves could easily have been unconvincing, with their electronic voice boxes facilitating human speech and their mechanical hands but they ring true and possess charm.

You will like them.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars An off beat, poignant, original story, 18 Feb. 1998
By A Customer
Original and powerfully presented, Kirsten Bakis' "Lives of the Monster Dogs" is a compelling tale about 150 anthropomorphic canines -- aristocratic, charming, wealthy and plagued by their own madness and self-perceived hideousness -- descending upon the City of New York in the year 2008.

Written with agonizing attention to detail, the story transports you to the lavish flats of the Upper West Side and down to the stinking slums of Alphabet City. The exquisite 19th Century Prussian dress of the monster dogs can almost be seen on the Bull Terriers, Alaskan Malamutes, German Shepherds and other canines of Bakis' tale. The characters themselves are well rounded, with complex personalities which, though only outlined to the reader in some places, are given enough idiosyncrasies as are necessary to be understood and captured.

The format of the story takes the reader through several centuries, giving them a feel for times past and present, laying the foundation for not only the character's lives, but their backgrounds as well. All of these elements lead to exotic, otherwise unbelievable, "monsters" whose lives, spirits, minds and emotions thrive in a reader's imagination, keeping them turning the pages.

Those, such as myself, whose emotions are moved by the lives, and deaths, of the heroes and heroines of this book will find a wide range of hopes, and sadness, from chapter to chapter. Though not uplifting, "Lives of the Monster Dogs" is still intriguing and gives one food for thought as the dogs explore their reason for being and their conditional acceptance based on wealth.

Driven forward by a doomsday plot, the quirky, mad conclusion made this story a 9 instead of a 10. Crippled by the burgeoning weight of an inevitable, forseeable ending, this roller coaster novel comes to an abrupt hault. Though some questions can excuseably go unanswered, one gets the feeling that remaining loose ends were tied up rather rapidly in the final chapters. Still majorily excellent throughout, "Lives of the Monster Dogs" is wonderfully moving, touching and vivid. You'll miss Ludwig too.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 26 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Lives of the Monster Dogs
Lives of the Monster Dogs by Kirsten Bakis (Paperback - 15 Jan. 1998)
Used & New from: £0.01
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews