Thursday, 30 January 2014

When Mr Dog Bites by Brian Conaghan

Dylan Mint has Tourette’s. For Dylan, life is a constant battle to keep the bad stuff in – the swearing, the tics, the howling dog that escapes whenever he gets stressed. And, as a sixteen-year-old virgin and pupil at Drumhill Special School, getting stressed is something of an occupational hazard.

But then a routine visit to the hospital changes everything. Overhearing a hushed conversation between the doctor and his mother, Dylan discovers that he's going to die next March.

So he grants himself three parting wishes: three ‘Cool Things To Do Before I Cack It’.

It isn’t a long list, but it is ambitious, and he doesn't have much time. But as Dylan sets out to make his wishes come true, he discovers that nothing – and no-one – is quite as he had previously supposed.

A story about life, death, love, sex and swearing, When Mr Dog Bites will take you on one *#@! of a journey.

When this came through my letter box I was more than a little surprised.  I hadn’t asked for it and nobody had told me it was coming.  I hadn’t heard of this book before so I wasn’t really sure what It was about.  I read the blurb and decided to give it a shot and bump it up to the top of my reading list.  From the cover and the book description I got the feeling that When Mr Dog Bites would be sweet, charming, funny and touching.  For the most part that was exactly what it was and I am really glad I was sent a copy.

It is probably worth pointing out that this book has a parental advisory on the back (the first I have seen on a book.) This is a book that parents are going to want to check out first before giving it to any young teens.  There is a lot of bad language in this book, not just little swear words but the two big ones as well.  The use of language isn’t gratuitous as Dylan, the main character, has Tourette’s but it is perhaps not appropriate for some young readers.

This book is solely about Dylan it is told from his point of view and is pretty much all about him so if you don’t like him this book will be a problem for you.  Luckily for me I liked him instantly.  He was adorable, funny and quite sweet.  There is an innocence to him that was endearing which made reading about all his struggled sometimes difficult.  He has a best friend, Amir, who was also pretty special and they made an unlikely but sweet paring.  Another big character in Dylan’s life is his mother whom I struggled to connect with at all.  I understand that she is going through a tough time but she grated on me when she took it out on her son a little too often.

Despite my love of Dylan there were some problems.  His voice was often an issue.  He often came across as a child and not a teen.  There were times when he could have passed for a nine year old not a teen about to embark on his first sexual encounter.  I understand that Tourette’s can go hand in hand with other issues but I felt that was never address and I wasn’t really sure why he sounded so young. It was really hard for me to connect the Dylan that was bordering on adulthood and the Dylan that sounded like a pre-teen.

I found the storytelling to be quite strong but a tad predictable which was a shame.  However I think Brian Conaghan has done a really good job at weaving a good, funny and often touching story about a tough subject.

3 stars

Published January 16th 2014 by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc .  Book Cover courtesy of Goodreads.  A free copy was provided by the publisher.

Review written by Kate Phillips 


  1. This sounds interesting. I'll have to admit, when I read the title, and saw the cover of the book, I wasn't going to read the review. It sounded weird, and not like something that I would enjoy. But I decided to stop by anyways and figure out what this book was about. I'm glad to see you liked it! It sounds like it would be a hard book to tackle writing, but since you liked it for the most part, I may add it to my TBR list (:

  2. Just wanted you to know I featured you today an my Feature and Follow Friday post. I really enjoy your blog. Here’s my FF.


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