Book review

The Pack by Tom Pow (2004)

Remember that word, dystopia? It means a pessimistic view of the future where everything has turned to the bad. And that is the setting for this story.

It's a dangerous world. Especially if you are a child. And if you are a child, you probably won't be for long. It's too hard for the grownups to look after the children you see. No-one wants to do it. There isn't enough food to go round. They'll dump you, sooner or later. Then it's up to you. You can beg, steal or starve. You can be taken to work as child labour in the city. Or you can fend for yourself.

And how will you do that? You can't do it alone. You need support.

Bradley, Victor and Floris look out for each other. They're just kids. But they have help, from Hunger, Shelter and Fearless. They're dogs. They all live together in a pack. And I can tell you, if I was alone in a world like this one, I'd want Hunger on my side:

The Pack all shared an instinct for danger; they could all live on very little, they could all make decisions that appeared cruel if necessary and they could all cover ground quickly and silently - as cats. But Hunger could do more. In a dangerous time, he could sift patiently through the air, discarding the common dangers for ones that threatened Bradley and the Pack. He had a sense of something now -

This time there is a danger that Hunger can't protect the Pack from though. At least, he can't protect Floris. She is literally stolen from her bed in the night. There's quite a struggle, but Floris is lost. Victor can't manage without Floris. He's off straightaway behind her, on her trail, in the dark. Fearless goes with him. That leaves Bradley and Hunger to follow more slowly and carefully in the morning.

They're going to risk everything to get Floris back. It really is a dangerous world out there. Out in the Zones and the Forbidden Territories they're up against vicious street gangs, and worse.

And did you wonder what happened to Shelter? She stays behind to look after the Old Woman. You'll have to read the book for yourself to discover her part in the story.

Brilliant! I really enjoyed reading this. These children are just scraps of humanity when we first meet them, but by the end of their journey, they've grown. See what you think.

What can I read next?

If you enjoy The Pack, have a look at Tom Pow's other book for young readers:

  • Scabbit Isle

If you like to read stories set in terrible grim futures, have a look at this classic by Lois Lowry. She has created a much more ordered, authoritarian society:

Or this very enjoyable one by Nina Bawden, with a very divided society, more like Tom Pow's view:

Actually, there are a lot of dystopias to choose from. Another classic is this one by Robert Westall:

If you really enjoy the theme of healing and restoring that runs through The Pack,? you might like to look at something by David Almond:

And if you enjoyed reading about the journey that the children make to the north you might like to have a look at this classic by Anne Holm, which has a?similar feeling of burgeoning humanity:

If you are interested in the notion of dystopias you might like to read my short article on the subject:

Also, the Bookchooser has found these books with a similar profile:

The Pack features in these lists: