Review: Storm Watcher

I received this book for free from BEA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Storm WatcherStorm Watcher by Maria V. Snyder
Published by Leap Books on October 1, 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 184
Format: ARC
Source: BEA

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?

Generally, I prefer my middle grade novels to be about genius children and, even better, set in a fantasy world. Many contemporary or action novels about average children bore me and leave me cold. As such, I was nervous to read Maria V. Snyder’s Storm Watcher. While I loved her fantasy offerings, I wasn’t sure if this one could be nearly as enjoyable. However, Snyder has done well, and the moppets in Storm Watcher are likable and the puppies are the best.

Luke Riley does fall into the category of fairly average boys. He’s a bit sweeter, smarter and more nervous than the usual, but I wouldn’t say his in the realm of genius. Luke’s family has been on edge ever since his mother’s death, which has left Luke feeling guilty and his father and twin brothers snapping at him. What his family shares is a strong love of dogs, but Luke’s the odd one out again, because he doesn’t want a bloodhound like his dad and brothers have; he wants a papillon.

In order to take up the offer of the pick of the litter from a local breeder, the only way his family can afford such a well-bred dog with the loss of his mother’s salary, Luke takes a summer job working at Storm Watch, working for Willajean, a dog breeder. She raises bloodhounds, papillons and german shepherds, and Luke has to decide between choosing the puppy he wants or the puppy his dad wants him to want.

The best part for me by far was reading about Luke’s work at the breeder’s. Now, obviously, this isn’t one of those terrible puppy farms; they have a fairly small number of dogs and treat them really well. Basically, I’m a little bit sad that I don’t have a dog right now (though don’t tell my cat, Perseus), because this book made me want to hug all of the dogs. The training tips in here are also super interesting, and I really, really want to teach some dogs to play tag and hide and seek now.

Though the dogs are definitely the highlight of the book, Snyder throws in a lot of lessons about family and facing one’s fears. Luke’s family has to learn how to deal with the tragedy of their mother’s loss and to learn how to deal with one another again. Willajean and her daughters, snobby Alayna and awesome Megan, have to figure out whether they can trust the girls’ dad, who once betrayed them. Then there’s Luke, who has to deal with his phobia of storms if he ever wants a real shot at being a meteorologist, which he might want to be someday.

The one thing that I really didn’t care for was the way that Luke’s brothers are written. The twins make endless stupid jokes, which is probably true for teenage boys, but seriously I hated them. Then they have this out-of-nowhere change of heart and are magically decent. Their character arc was not solid enough for me, though I guess how much do I expect in less than two hundred pages.

Dog lovers definitely need to read this one, and I know my childhood self would have been all over this. When I was young, my dad would have read this one with me, because we shared a love of dogs; the horse books I read with mom.

Favorite Quote:

‘Actually if I don’t get at least one odd look a day, I start wondering what’s the matter.’

10 responses to “Review: Storm Watcher”

  1. Jenn says:

    This book sounds cute. I hadn’t heard much about it previously. Most of what I like about the book is that it seems like it doesn’t end the way most of the MG dog books do (with the dog dying). I feel like a terrible person every time a kid goes home with Where the Red Fern Grows because I know they’re going to cry.

    • Christina Franke says:

      It is very cute and no animal death! You will not weep like Where the Red Fern Grows. It’s a happy animal book!

      • Jenn says:

        Oh fantastic! I’m always looking for good MG books that aren’t fantasy/scifi ones. I only have a handful of those I can do a book talk for so I’m trying to expand my MG book knowledge.

        • Christina Franke says:

          Yeah, I’ve got a lot of blank spots in my MG knowledge as well. I’m fairly picky about it, unlike YA, where I’ll try almost anything. Haha.

  2. Danielle says:

    Oh this sounds lovely, I’ve been getting into MG fiction again and I do love dogs (as my twitter feed will attest to). Will look out for this
    Danielle recently posted…Blog Tour: When the World was Flat (and we were in love) Author Guest Post!My Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      It’s so cute, and doesn’t run to TOO adorable, if you know what I mean. Also, the puppies are so sweet and smart.

  3. I really can’t wait to read this. I am a bit worried, as you know how much of a shelter advocate I am and breeders are the reason there are so many dogs in the shelter in the first place, but I will keep my mind open because it does sound cute.

    I’m really glad you liked it! I had no idea what to expect from this one!
    Kara @ Great Imaginations recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Best Sequels EverMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      I know you’re a shelter advocate, with good reason, but at least they’re treating the dogs really well? As breeders go, I don’t think they get better than this. Also, focus on the adorable puppies.

  4. It sounds like this book might skew towards a bit of a younger crowd, so it’s probably not for me, although, I can totally relate to the love of dogs parts. The MC also vaguely reminds me of my little brother with regard to the interest/obsession with weather. I think I’m going to recommend this one to him!
    Nikki @ Foil the Plot recently posted…Book Review: Cinder by Marissa MeyerMy Profile

  5. Jessie says:

    “Generally, I prefer my middle grade novels to be about genius children and, even better, set in a fantasy world.” Perfect line is perfect. That’s how I like mine too -fantastical and full of precocious kiddies.

    I have a weird track record with Snyder. Her series start strong and then… go way off the rails. It’s happened with both series I’ve read. However — PUPPIES. That is clearly enough to get me to pay attention.

    And Percy totally knows you wrote that and is side-eyeing you from somewhere inside your house. Cats ALWAYS KNOW.

    I honestly have not heard too much about this one outside of this review, so I may wait on buying it. But it’s definitely on m radar.
    Jessie recently posted…15 Day Blogger Challenge – Blog AppealMy Profile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge