I WE need a dog?
We’d been without a dog for too long. The Hub, who for some strange reason never particularly warmed to the idea of predawn winter doggie constitutionals, pretended that he didn’t miss having a dog. This was despite the fact that the dog was the only female who was ever going to greet his every return with delighted kisses and the occasional enthusiastic sniff of his private parts.
I started my campaign. First, I assured the Hub that I was determined to acquire a pair of miniature canines (maybe even poodles)—one black and one white—who he would end up taking for walks in public (probably convincing all observers that he was actually into musical theater in a major way). Matching doggie coats would, I hinted darkly, be involved. He stayed strong, so I upped the campaign intensity, sending him photos of adorable little black and white scotties from the animal shelter sites, and covering the fridge with the pictures. He started to look panicked, and I knew it was time to strike.
One local shelter specialized in abandoned working dogs, and they told me about a puppy who needed a home. Because of the recession, shepherds from South America who had been working in Eastern Washington State had been returning home, often leaving their dogs behind. I met the shelter’s foster doggie-mom in a parking lot after she made the long drive over the mountains to Seattle. In the back of her car was an unhappy miniature Australian Shepherd pup who had—judging from the state of her kennel—not enjoyed the mountain driving.
The shelter lady was diabolically clever. “I have to get back over the mountains. Why don’t you just take her home for the weekend. If it’s not a good fit, we can take her back on Monday.” We both knew, of course, that if I drove off with that puppy, we would never meet again.
I brought the little dog home and set her down in front of the Hub. She was skinny, shivering, and her tail had been mercilessly docked until there wasn’t even a stub remaining. She looked up at him with huge eyes and wiggled her little butt in ecstasy when he petted her. I reminded him that she wasn’t allowed on the furniture, pretended I had something else to do, and sneaked out. When I peeked in at them ten minutes later, he was sitting on the floor with the little dog in his lap.
I went back into the kitchen and cleared the fridge of black and white scottie pictures. Then I called the shelter and told them the dog had decided to keep us.
So when author Dylan Lee Peters told me his latest book, The Dean Machine, was based on his own beloved shelter dog, and that a portion of all royalties received would support animal shelters, I was delighted.
Do you have a pet who owns you? How did they come into your life?
The Dean Machine by Dylan Lee Peters
Meet Dan Delacor, an utterly boring citizen of Yellow City. Every day he puts on his yellow shoes, yellow shirt, yellow pants, and yellow tie, and catches a ride on the Tunnel Runner from the suburbs into downtown. He has a job, a home, and a girlfriend, and he never wonders what waits beyond the giant glass wall that surrounds Yellow City.
Except… Dan isn’t as boring as he seems. He often wonders why everything in Yellow City has to be yellow. He wonders why he suffers frequent anxiety attacks, and why he can’t help himself from strolling through dangerous neighborhoods, or running wildly through the fields that separate downtown from the suburbs. Mostly though, Dan wonders why he can’t remember how he lost his right arm, or anything that happened before five years ago.
So, when Dan’s mundane yellow world is interrupted with the seemingly impossible presence of a little red dog named Dean, he quickly finds out there are answers to his questions, and that everything he knows is a lie.
Follow Dan as he learns the secrets of his true identity, the scope of the world beyond the wall, and the true intentions of Yellow City’s mysterious leader, Chancellor Elgrey Vinsidian. Meet Wendy, the twelve-year-old girl on a rescue mission, Echo Valkzdokker, the woman with a love for danger, James Perkins, the wily pilot who has a way with words, and Bianna Kensington, the cold-mannered rebel with a cause. Look through the cracks of this new world with Dan as he learns why his little friend is nicknamed The Dean Machine, what special bond they share, and why the dog deserves a legacy that should live on forever.
He lives to love.
He would die to protect.
His heart is a machine.
- Book Title: The Dean Machine
- Author: Dylan Lee Peters
- Genre: Dystopian SciFi
- Publisher: Amazon Digital Services (3 December, 2015)
- Pages: 296
This is a first for me. In the past, I’ve been skeptical of book prefaces, and avoided introductory material like a plague. But not only did I read “The True Story Behind The Dean Machine”, but by the end I was was crying and smiling at little Dean’s incredibly charming, moving, heartbreaking, uplifting story. For the first time, I honestly believe that the preface is not just worth reading, but actually contains some of the best writing in the book.
The novel section starts by introducing us to Dan “Danger” Delacor, an ordinary guy with a boring job in the Yellow City. But almost immediately, we realize that there is something strange about Dan. He has no memory of his past, or of how he came to lose one arm. As Dan is “rescued” by an odd little girl and her even more unusual little dog, and they bounce from one adventure to the next, we find out more about the worlds inside and out of the Yellow City, and slowly unravel the mystery of Dan’s past.
As many fans of epic fantasy know, Dylan Lee Peters is author of the best-selling Everflame series. But The Dean Machine is darker, despite the preface and its message of hope and joy:
“Dean lived to love, and he was very aware of us and that we were the ones who were giving him this new life. He needed us, and in a lot of ways, I think that we needed him. Dean changed the way I viewed a lot of things about the world, and he changed the way I viewed a lot of things about myself. He made me see life with renewed value for all living things. He made me remember to enjoy the fleeting moments we have with one another, and in all of our relationships.”
For a long time, Dan’s emotions are strangely flat, even when his memories start to return. The reason for that is revealed as Dan and his friends slowly peel back the layers-within-layers of the evil in Yellow City. I don’t want to reveal spoilers, but as a reader, it’s difficult to have to follow these curiously non-dimensional characters all the way through the book until the reasons for their missing pieces are finally revealed. In addition, there are dark scenes of torture which are, frankly never explained even in light of the final reveal. I felt like each time someone explained about why other’s memories were completely manipulated, we opened another nesting doll, only to find that the final “doll” was just a fortune cookie paper strip that reads “People are mean to animals and big business is bad“.
To me it felt like the writing had gone to a dark place indeed, where some stock villain was engaged in really REALLY awful torture because…why not? There are those who might find that compelling, but it seems like a way to get out of writing original plot content. Indeed, one of Dan’s torture scenes is strangely a cross between scenes in The Princess Bride and Firefly (Episode 10, War Stories), as Dan’s torturer asks him, “So what we are then challenged to do is to find that needle in the haystack in order to truly know each other. Do you know how you find a needle in a haystack Dan? Do you know the quickest solution? You burn the haystack to askes. You destroy everything around that needle until it is the only thing left. Then, and only then, can you know someone.”
The other problem is that the reader must not only suspend knowledge and belief in anything remotely connected to actual science, but also must buy into the core belief that for no apparent reason, Dan is the greatest engineer who ever lived (the proof of which is a mechanical heart enhancer powered by the love in a dog’s heart). The power of love is the ultimate theme of the book. But for me, the only place I was really convinced of that is the preface.
I would give The Dean Machine three stars for the writing, terrific descriptions, and amazing premise. And another half star just for that wonderful preface.**I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**
Dylan Lee Peters lives in Palm Coast, Florida, with his wife and ever-growing animal family. He has also written the Everflame series, an epic fantasy adventure that is comprised of four books. He is also not a fan of seafood…in case you were wondering. Learn more at www.dylanleepeters.com (more about his writing, not his food preferences)