Max: Best Friend. Hero. Marine

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Max: Best Friend. Hero. Marine
Age Range
8+
Release Date
June 09, 2015
ISBN
978-0062420398
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Now a major motion picture, this movie novelization tells the story of a canine hero. When Justin's older brother, Kyle, is killed in Afghanistan, Justin can't believe that his brother is really gone. Except there's one thing that Kyle left behind…. Max is a highly trained military canine who has always protected his fellow soldiers. But when he loses his handler and best friend, Kyle, Max is traumatized and unable to remain in the service. He is sent home to America, where the only human he connects with is Justin, and he is soon adopted by Kyle's family, essentially saving his life. At first Justin has no interest in taking care of his late brother's troubled dog. However, the two learn to trust each other, which helps the four-legged veteran become his heroic self once more. As the pair start to unravel the mystery of what really happened to Kyle, they find more excitement—and danger—than they bargained for. But they might also find an unlikely new best friend—in each other.

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The dogs of war
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Justin is a bit of a slacker and also very angry at his older brother, Kyle, for going off to fight in Afghanistan. When Kyle is killed, the entire family is inconsolable. Kyle's military dog, Max, is brought to the funeral and seems to understand that his handler is gone, and the family is moved enough to take Max in, even though he has seemed rather wild in some settings. Justin is annoyed at first, mainly because Justin is annoyed at everything, but grows attached to Max. When Tyler, a friend of his brother and a soldier who has come home injured, gets a job with Justin's father, he indicates that Max might have been the cause of Kyle's death. There's more to it than that, though: Tyler isn't completely truthful about anything having to do with his military time, and is up to no good. Justin might have been selling bootleg copies of video games, but Tyler is involved in dangerous and illegal activities.
Good Points
This had a lot to recommend it to reluctant readers who are interested in the military. There are enough details about Kyle and Tyler's experiences, as well as the father's, to keep those readers interested, but there is also a lot about the military dogs. Justin isn't the most likable character at first, mainly because he is so angry at so many people, but this, too, will speak to some readers. The ending, with its action and adventure, keeps this from getting bogged down in sentimentality.

A good companion to C. Alex London's Dog Tags series, this is a good fiction book to combine with informational texts about service dogs, such as Dorothy Hinshaw Patent's Dogs on Duty: Soldier's Best Friends on the Battle and Beyond.
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