bait dogTitle: Bait Dog

Author: Chuck Wendig

Publisher: Terribleminds 1st Edition

Published: Out Now

RRP: Kindle £3.19

This title includes the novella Shotgun Gravy

The last time Atlanta Burns tangled with the town bullies it seemed like she and her friends won the day. But then one of those friends ended up dead – dead by his own hand if you believed it. Atlanta and her friend Shane are not so sure.

Atlanta, afraid of once again stirring up the hornet’s nest by looking into Chris’ death, instead focuses on looking into the death of a local teen’s beloved dog. But doing this is no easy task, and soon Atlanta and her friends are embroiled in the world of dog fights. But also she finds that events surrounding the death of the dog shed light of Chris’ alleged suicide.

As events unfold Atlanta once again finds herself face-to-face with bullies, and staring down a corruption that’s seeped into town like a septic infection. It’s all too much for one girl to handle, and she knows she and her trusty .410 Squirrel gun must go up against some of the most callous and cruel people she’d ever likely to meet.

One girl, her single-barrel Winchester shotgun and a whole town full of terrible that deserves her brand of teenage justice.

Chuck Wendig certainly knows how to write strong young women with bad attitude and the sort of mouth that would make a docker blush. Atlanta Burns is very much in the Miriam Black mould, strong willed, independent. She’s the sort of take-no-shit girl that I imaged Ellen Ripley was growing up. But unlike any other Chuck Wendig book I’ve so far read this one is set in the “real world”, no one has psychic powers, no one is a vampire, its about real people trying to deal with real world issues.

This is a very hard book to read. It covers three subjects that are disturbing and upsetting, bullying, racism and animal cruelty. All are prevalent no matter where you live, and all something that needs to be addressed. Chuck has managed to do this in a way that is informative and entertaining (though I’m not sure that is the right word, there is nothing entertaining about either of the subjects, but in order to sell a story you have to entertain somewhere).

As with the Miriam Black character Atlanta is from a dysfunctional family, she has a fractured relationship with her mother, and in some way blames her for being the way she is. Atlanta is the victim of abuse at the hands of one of her mother’s boyfriends, an event that happened prior to the start of the novella Shotgun Gravy, but an event that very much haunts her – and drives her – still. Because of that event Atlanta has a certain reputation with her peers. She is some parts admired and some parts feared. People do not know how to interact with her, afraid they may offend, worse that she may react.

Is Atlanta Burns a violent person? No, I don’t think she is. She’s a girl that has gone through some seriously bad shit and is dealing with it in her own unique way. Does she win? The jury is out, although there is an end of sorts to the story in this book, it’s not the end to the story as a whole. The bullies, racists and downright nasty fuckers are still out there, and so is Atlanta.