three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
34-May-June-2008
user_rating: 
0

A-DogfaceWhen Loren, a 14-year-old boy obsessed with the military, tries to burn a Navy SEAL symbol into the golf course where his mother’s latest boyfriend works, he is carted off to a rehabilitation "camp" for delinquent teens. It’s not long before he realizes that Camp Ascend!—a polluted and abandoned music camp run by the "Colonel," a scheming ex-con, his dim-witted wife, and her sadistic brother—is a fraud, despite the slick promises printed in its glossy brochure. Using his imagined martial skills, Loren pretends that he is a POW behind enemy lines. He’s soon recruiting his fellow captives in a desperate bid for revenge and, ultimately, freedom.
MacAdam Cage. 325 pages. $23. ISBN: 1596922583

Dallas Morning News 4 of 5 Stars
"With its bizarre characters, frank dialogue and violence, it belongs somewhere between Louis Sachar’s Holes and a Carl Hiaasen comic thriller. … Despite the clichés, the novel never loses its freshness." Anne Morris

Denver Post 4 of 5 Stars
"Dogface is a kids vs. adults tale where the teens, despite what they were up to before camp, have right on their side. … Garigliano shows a nice sense of black humor in his debut novel that makes Dogface a book that will make the reader laugh and cringe at the same time." Janna Fischer

Entertainment Weekly 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Finding an unexpected niche between YA fiction, military fantasy, and chick lit for dudes, Dogface succeeds via a combination of snappy action and strong characterizations." Whitney Pastorek

Cleveland Plain Dealer 3 of 5 Stars
"The book sags in the middle—too much time at camp—but the author has an ear for the thoughts and speech of adolescents. … Though good, the novel lacks the manic edge and black cynicism of [Carl] Hiaasen’s best stuff." James F. Sweeney

Critical Summary

Rejected by 25 publishers before finally making it into print, former Naval officer Jeff Garigliano’s debut novel is being billed as adult fiction despite its young protagonists and adolescent themes. "I looked at ‘young adult’ books and I didn’t like them and it didn’t belong there,’ states Garigliano. Most critics agreed with him, citing the novel’s black humor, violence, and sex scenes. (Only the Cleveland Plain Dealer felt these elements were "gratuitous, like a sex scene added to a movie to avoid the dreaded ‘PG’ rating.") Despite the debate over the novel’s proper market and a few slow spots, the critics were pleased with Garigliano’s strong characters, authentic dialogue, and obvious gift for humor that had reviewers laughing out loud.