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Survivors #1: The Empty City

Review

Survivors #1: The Empty City

Lucky is the type of dog who prefers being alone. That’s the way it’s been most of his life; he’s responsible for no one except himself and has no one to answer to, especially those bossy humans. He actually pities those dogs who are tied to the end of a leash. Lucky is wild and free, and that’s how he wants it to stay.

"Dog lovers especially will lose their hearts to these canine characters as they struggle for survival. The fervent writing and special animal spirits will have readers clenched with intense emotion."

But that’s not what happens when he gets arrested by a dog catcher and thrown into the animal shelter. Sure, he gets food every day, and the humans appear caring and kind, but he still longs for his freedom. Before Lucky can do anything about his situation, the Big Growl strikes the city. The huge earthquake shakes the ground, splits it open and destroys many buildings. Lucky barely escapes the shelter with his life, while others aren’t so fortunate. Everything has changed with the Big Growl. Most of the humans are gone, and the dogs left behind will have to care for themselves. Fortunately, Lucky has experience surviving on his own, and even prefers it to living in a dog pack. Still, the rules have changed since the Big Growl, oil has seeped into the rivers, food is more scarce, and buildings topple with the brush of a tail. Still, Lucky is confident that he will be just fine all on his own.

Then he runs into his sister, Bella, and a group of her friends. Lucky and Bella haven’t seen each other since they were tiny pups, and she has lived quite a different life from him. Bella and her friends have always been pampered pets, and are completely clueless about living in the wild. Lucky decides he’ll stick around for a short while to teach them how to survive, how to find food, water, shelter, and how to watch out for danger; he at least owes his sister that. But Lucky is definitely not interested in becoming part of a dog pack. So as soon as he can, he will strike out on his own again…or maybe he’ll find that living with a family isn’t so bad after all.

Erin Hunter has had successful series with cats and bears, and now dogs get a chance. She gives the recently popular dystopian theme a new and creative twist in viewing survival after disaster from the dogs’ point of view. Dog lovers especially will lose their hearts to these canine characters as they struggle for survival. The fervent writing and special animal spirits will have readers clenched with intense emotion. As in some of Hunter’s other stories, the animals come up with their own creative names for items (for example, longfoot for human and loudcage blood for car oil). These clever names bring smiles to readers and sometimes require just a bit of thought to figure out the dogs’ intent.

Once again, Hunter’s obvious love for animals and respect for nature shines through the pages, encouraging others in the care for our planet. Survivors is a fantastically fun and furry adventure with a wild canine spirit.

Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman on August 25, 2012

Survivors #1: The Empty City
by Erin Hunter