Title: Watchdog | Author: Will McIntosh | Publisher: Delacorte Press | Pub. Date: 2017-10-10 | Pages: 182 | ISBN13: 9781524713843 | Genre: Middle Grade Science Fiction | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: Library
Thirteen-year-old twins Vick and Tara have built an incredible machine–a loyal robotic watchdog named Daisy. But, when local crime boss Ms. Alba schemes to add Daisy to her robot army, Vick and Tara must go to great lengths to protect their prized pet. Because Daisy is more than just any robot–she’s their constant protector, and together the three make a great team.
Vick and Tara are determined to stop the mob from tearing their little family apart. And they might just succeed! Sure, the evil Ms. Alba has more robot watchdogs, but none are as smart–or as faithful–as their Daisy. Plus, if things get too dangerous, Tara could always upgrade their pet. With her mechanical skills, she could make Daisy bigger, stronger, and a lot more intimidating!
Watchdog was fast-paced, well-imagined, and took robots in a slightly different direction than you normally see. They very much seem inspired by the robots like Wowwee and Teksta produce. I loved just imagining some of them, and what they would actually look like walking down the street.
And some of the dialogue did have me laughing. Kids really are inclined to say the first thing that pops into their head.
I just couldn’t get into Watchdog. I wanted to. It seemed like a fun book, and I liked the idea of a super-smart robot dog (like I’d previously read about in Jonathan Ballagh’s The Quantum Door), but Watchdog just fell short of the mark for me. I think the problem started, honestly, the second Daisy picked up something to use it like a bat. Okay, yes, I know she was given ‘paws’ that had the capability to do that, but it just seemed to make things too easy. And from there it was various little things that took me out of the story. The dog simply acted too human and made things (relatively) too easy for the kids for me to be able to suspend disbelief. Like when she was designing some of her own body parts.
Now, I had originally remarked on the portrayal of autism in one of the characters not seeming very realistic to myself or the autism educator I had spoken with. However, the author commented on the original version of the review saying that his children are on the autism spectrum and he has a degree in psychology. As I have neither of those things, I’m going to say that obviously I was wrong and the autism educator I had spoken with had apparently not seen this set of behaviors either. Autism does, as I previously commented, have a wide range of behaviors on the spectrum. So, my apologies there to the author.
When writing this update, I realised that what I also want is to see more books like Corrine Duyvis’ On the Edge of Gone, where autism has a huge effect on a character, but they overcome regardless. I think that being my first experience of a book with a primary character with autism had influenced how I view all other books where the spectrum is represented. Is that fair or right of me? No, it’s not. But it is something I am acknowledging that I’ve just recognized about myself. We shall see if I can overcome that.
The author announced in October, 2017 that Watchdog was being developed as an animated TV series. I think this is a good move. It could make a really fun TV show for kids to watch. I hope that they keep Tara as autistic in the series as well. There aren’t nearly enough positive representations of people with autism in visual media.
Overall, Watchdog was a decent attempt at a middle grade novel but even taking the previous issues I had with the portrayal of autism out of the picture, I still can’t say that I particularly liked the book. So, I will be sticking with the 3 out of 5 rating.
Buy Link: Amazon