Storm Watcher by Maria V. Snyder
Published October 19th 2013
Luke Riley is lost. His mother's recent death has set Luke and his family adrift. Even though his father, twin brothers, and their three Bloodhounds are search and rescue volunteers, they have been unable to rescue themselves and become a family again. The summer after sixth grade looms in Luke's mind as a long, lonely three months where the only thing he can look forward to is watching The Weather Channel. Luke is fascinated with the weather, but since his mother's death in a storm, he is also terrified. Even the promised 13th birthday present of a Bloodhound puppy fails to lift Luke's spirits. He would rather have a different breed - a petite Papillon, but his father insists he get a Bloodhound.
When Luke decides to get the Bloodhound from Willajean, a dog breeder who owns Storm Watcher Kennel, he works out a deal to help at her kennel in exchange for the expensive dog. Thrilled to have a summer with a purpose, Luke befriends Willajean's daughter, Megan and together they plan how Luke can get a Papillon puppy instead of a Bloodhound. But nothing seems to work as they struggle with stubborn fathers, summer storms, unhelpful siblings, and hidden guilt. Can one little white dog really save both families?
*An ARC was provided by Leap Books in exchange for an honest review.*
Maria V. Snyder is an author that I hadn't experienced before now - despite her sitting on the very top of my 'must-read author list'. Needless to say, I was very excited to get my hands on an advanced copy of Storm Watcher; even though the lack of any kind of fantasy or sci-fi elements usually turns me off quicker than anything. And coming from a HUGE feline-lover, the aspect of dogs and dog training didn't especially appeal to me at first. That being said, Storm Watcher ended up being an easy, engaging and enjoyable read!
Storm Watcher is a short story, one that could easily be read in one single sitting. As can be expected, with a limited number of pages comes less time to develop characters (and their relationships as well as any complicated plot points. I was pleasantly surprised that Snyder managed to still make me care about Luke, his family, friends and even the freaking dogs! I was amused, and at times even a little heart-broken.
As an MC, Luke was very relatable. He's suffered a loss but he's dealing as best he can. His voice was quite believable and I enjoyed seeing his world from his perspective. He's innocent, yet at the same time focused and hard-working...not to mention his love of dogs is kind of contagious. I especially like his fascination/fear with the weather since I happen to think weather is pretty darn interesting.
There isn't much else I can say, while it was an enjoyable read I can't say I developed any especially strong attachment to the story as a whole but I still feel like it was worth the read. In fact, the family dynamics were quite memorable. If anything, reading Storm Watcher made me all the more curious about Snyder's fantasy series, which I feel are more up my alley anyways. I'd recommend this one to children's/middle-grade readers, animal lovers anyone with an even passing interest in meteorology!
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars ★★★✩✩