In the late seventeenth century, famed teenage pirate Emer Morrisey was on the cusp of escaping the pirate life with her one true love and unfathomable riches when she was slain and cursed with the dust of one hundred dogs, dooming her to one hundred lives as a dog before returning to a human bodywith her memories intactNow she's a contemporary American teenager and all she needs is a shovel and a ride to Jamaica This book had such great reviews and praised so highly by both critics and readers, I expected to adore it Sorry to say, I was a little underwhelmed I liked it, but I didn't love it Let me start with the positives First of all, the concept of the book if not original, then certainly not very frequently explored I find the idea of reincarnation quite fascinating This book is very hard to put down It is an extremely engaging and consuming read Some elements of the story are very emotional and powerful and I will not forget them soon Emer's character is well defined and I admire her strength and courage.But there are also some negatives that I want to address The story consists of several distinctive threads Emer's pirate journey, Saffron's treasure hunt, Emer's dog lives While all these threads are interesting independently, they never completely come together in my opinion and therefore make this book quite a bizarre mix of not fully connected ideas For instance, the 100 dogs' aspect of the book can be taken out of the story altogether Simply because Emer's experiences as dogs never come into play and feel like an afterthought We spend a lot of time in the sick mind of Frenchmanreincarnate Fred Livingston But does this knowledge of his twisted thoughts add anything to the story? I don't think so.In my opinion, The Dust of 100 Dogs could have been a truly great story if it were a little bitfocused However this book caught my attention enough to wish to check out what A.S King writes next. Infamous and bloodthirsty, teenage pirate Emer is all set to leave her days plundering the Spanish in the Caribbean behind and sail off with her longlost and newfound love, Seanie, and their treasure for Ireland, when she is killed by an old enemy and cursed to live the life of a hundred dogs.A hundred dogs and about three hundred years later, Emer is reborn in 1972 as Saffron Adams with all her memories intact, memories of being Emer and of being numerous dogs all over the world The last child of five born to alcoholic and depressive parents living in Pennsylvania, she wants only to get through school, grab a shovel and head back to Jamaica to dig up her treasure While she waits she imagines all the colourful ways she can flog, dismember and otherwise torture the people in her life who annoy the crap out of her, in true Emer style.The Dust of 100 Dogs is told from three perspectives and two timelines: Saffron's first person narration in her present (leading up to 1990); Emer growing up in Ireland in the 1650s, escaping Cromwell, fleeing Paris and ending up captain of an impressive pirate fleet in the Caribbean; and the mildly insane Fred Livingstone, an ageing but still wealthy real estate broker living in Jamaica with his muchabused dog Rusty also in Saffron's present All three narratives navigate towards each other to reach a conclusion that's 100 dogs in the making.Emer and Saffron are wonderful characters, leading different lives, never quite the same person and yet similar enough in ways, both living through tumultuous times and with difficult people Through it all she they? narrates with dark irony, a measure of contempt and a swig of childish enthusiasm While she's not entirely loveable or even, at times, likeable, she's still charismatic, interesting (never dull), and sympathetic By the end of the novel I really cared about Saffron Both Emer and Saffron present different social issues: Emer of girls and women sold like chattel to men, slaving their lives away in some cases and never taken seriously enough; and Saffron of parents who have grand dreams for their children, pressuring them to live the lives they never could, pinning all their hopes on them and then being upset when they rebel Both Emer and Saffron speak for a great many teenagers, especially but not exclusively girls, as they try to stand up for themselves So it's not hard to cheer Emer on as she kills a wouldbe rapist with a rock, or storms a ship's deck with a cutlass in hand.Livingstone was another welldrawn, cleverly crafted character At first, when he suddenly turns up in the story, I wasn't sure why he was there, but I trusted King that there was a good reason and there is He was a mix of brutish fear and cowardly ego, and perversity as he ogles the girls on the beach and imagines conversations in his head where he flirts with them and invites them to dinner He's a sad man driven to quick rages and you can only feel terribly sorry for poor Rusty the doberman.Speaking of dogs, interspersed throughout the novel are six dog facts that cleverly reinforce, mirror or complement whatever part of the story they interrupt You can tell that King is a dog person, and her insights into the nature of dogs from Saffron's perspective, and she's had a lot of experience! are great for dog lovers and people, like me, who would like a dog one day but don't really understand them or know what to do with them.After a bit of a slow start while you get your footing with Saffron's dry, unloving narration (she does have some familial feeling but, knowing exactly where she's come from, she never really sees herself as their daughter or part of their family, which is a bit sad really), the story really picks up as it weaves through time and adventures and gets quite exciting A wonderful tale of adventure on the high seas (I love that phrase!) and teenage impatience; young love and loss and sheer determination. This is definitely one of theinteresting premises that I've encountered in young adult fiction and, given all of the carbon copy Twilight/Harry Potter series books out there, it deserves high praise for that alone Young Emer Morrisey has a loving family and a happy childhood until her parents are brutally killed and her village destroyed during Cromwell's invasion of Ireland From that point on, Emer's life is one disappointment after another: poverty, arranged marriage, abusive uncle, hunger, imprisonment, and rape It's no wonder that she loses hope in goodness and kindness and, when fate brings her to the pirate haven of Tortuga, she decides to take from others as viciously as life has taken from her That's rightEmer is kicking ass and taking names as the captain of her own pirate ship and it's not long before she manages to make a name for herself as one of the most cunning and bloodthirsty pirates to ever sail the seven seas When Emer crosses the wrong man, she is killed and cursed with The Dust of 100 Dogs, meaning that she will be reincarnated 100 times as a dog before finally being reincarnated as a human being and able to take care of unfinished business.The novel begins with the birth of Saffron Adams, the human reincarnation of Emer after she has endured several canine lifetimes Saffron is her own person, yet still has all of Emer's memories and knowledge As Saffron searches for the treasure Emer was able to bury before her death, the novel deftly switches from past to present as we learn of Emer's past and Saffron's future If all of this sounds bizarre and confusing, well, it is, but in a good way The novel maintains suspense and draws all of the storylines together to a satisfactory conclusion The one expectation that wasn't met for me is that we learn very little about Emer's dog lives; instead, the chapters are interspersed with short vignettes about what Emer the dog learned about human nature from various owners in various time periods This is probably a smart move on the part of King as reading about the lives of 100 dogs, while intriguing, could become pretty tedious somewhere around the third Milkbone treat given, leg humped, or fire hydrant peed upon.In reading other reviews, many readers were shocked by the brutality and the sexuality in the book (which I actually found to be pretty tame) Um, yeah, I think that it could be because it's a FREAKIN' PIRATE book and not a Disney theme park ride Others seemed to be shocked to find such content in a young adult book, but I have no such worries I'm sure teenagers have already figured out the sex thing, yeah? And they've probably done it from unsupervised watching of cable television and unmonitored Internet usage their parents make accessible And it's a hell of a lot better than reading three books of Bella lusting after sparkling Edward's cold, hardwell, you know (*removes self from soapbox and drags it back to the corner*)So, yes, good book, definitely enjoyed it, and suffered no negative side effects other than a desire to walk around saying, Arrrggghhh, me matey to everyone I met for a week.Cross posted at This Insignificant Cinder and at Shelf Inflicted Let me just say that I love the idea of this book A girl who has suffered poverty, famine, loss, and abuse in 17th century Ireland winds up finding herself in the role of “scourge of the seven seas” and just when she thinks that she has it all made, she ends up dead and cursed to live out one hundred lifetimes as a dog Sounds like a really terrific and original idea, right? Well, it is It’s just not executed very well This story feels rushed, bland, and forgettable So I say five stars for the amazing idea, but two stars for the carrying out of that idea I still think that A.S King is a tremendously talented writer, and this book is by no means excruciatingly bad But I would probably read Please Ignore Vera Dietz before this one, just so you know how good she can be.We catch up with this feisty girl in the 1980’s, where she’s a now a teenager named Saffron, born into a lower middle class family in the U.S Some of the most entertaining and enjoyable parts of this book are found in the opening scenes, where Saffron is a wee mite of a preschooler with all the memories and experiences of a bloodthirsty pirate tucked away in her head With all of the knowledge of a ruthless adult, plus one hundred canines, Saffron excels at school Her parents’ greatest wish is that she will go to college and raise the status and wealth of her family, but she has no desire to follow that path She remembers one night a few centuries ago when she lost the love of her life, and left behind a hoard of treasures Now she’s determined to go back and reclaim what she lost.At just over two hundred pages, I think that this book is too short I neededtime to know these characters and fill in all of the gaps in this story Some elements I feel could have been trimmed to make way forexplanation and character building For example, Saffron’s very inconsequential and brief relationship with a neighborhood boy who turns out to be a jerk Why not cut that and include somethingabout Emer’s lost love? I also didn’t really feel like the “one hundred dog lifetimes” element was developed or linked to the story enough The little doggie care tips do not feel connected to the story in any clear way (although I can see how a few of them are vaguely connected), and mainly just seem unnecessary I love the whole idea, but I would have liked to see Saffron learn, grow, and mature from those one hundred canine lives It really didn’t seem like she did.Many of the important storydriving scenes seem shoved in, and even nonsensical For example, when Emer is revealed as a woman among a wounded group of sailors recovering from a battle with pirates, the Captain, unsure of what to do with her (can’t strand her, can’t keep her aboard), decides to give her an entire ship and some of his few remaining crewmen and set her up as the Captain with no strings attached Seriously Or when Emer decides to volunteer to go to Tortuga as a sort of mail order bride, but then is completely aghast to discover that the men there want to sleep with her What did you think was going to happen?!Perfect Musical PairingThe Black Eyed Peas – I Gotta FeelingThis book is a bit like a pop song It’s catchy and flashy and so much fun on the front end But then you get it stuck in your head and go on a listening marathon, about halfway through which you realize that this song is actually not fun or exciting It’s extremely repetitive and the lyrics are complete shit.