Wild & Chance (Wild & Chance #1)

Wild & Chance (Wild & Chance #1)
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Release Date
April 13, 2021
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Jason Bourne meets Homeward Bound in this fast-paced tale about an unusually intelligent dog with amnesia who must discover—and then face—her past with the help of a new friend.

When a girl wakes up trapped on a sinking ship with no memory of who she is, she has nothing but her instinct to survive. As she fights her way to freedom, she quickly discovers two incredible facts: She is a dog and she can understand human speech.

Soon, she befriends a thirteen-year-old boy named Chance who gives her a name of her own: Wild. But Wild and Chance find themselves running for their lives, pursued by relentless Animal Control officers.

Joined by a mysterious hacker girl named Junebug, the unlikely trio fight for survival while trying to solve the mystery of Wild's extraordinary strength, super-intelligence, and high-tech collar.

Equal parts heart-pounding action and heartfelt journey, Wild & Chance grabs the reader from page one and never lets go.

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Our main character wakes up when the yacht she is on explodes and people are chasing her. She makes it to land, and eventually meets Chance, a boy who is in a group home because his mother is addicted to drugs. He offers to help Wild, who turns out to be a dog. Not just any dog, but a genetically modified super dog who can talk to humans with the proper collar and corresponding ear bud, can heal quickly, and has great physical prowess. Wild has vague memories of a little girl whom she loved, and is trying to remember enough to get home, but in the meantime, people are out to get her! Chance takes her to a pet store to buy a leash, and a groomer there identifies the dog as "Honey", but the two can't stay long before someone is after them. Myron the groomer had a case Wild had asked him to hold, and also mentions "Maelstrom". Chance and Wild are joined by Junebug, a hacker who helps them locate a GPS chip in Wild's hip that needs to be removed. Junebug has stolen her father's car, so police are after her, but she doesn't think it's animal control who are after Wild. She lets them know that there was a Dr. Pao who developed a BreedX, and the group tries to locate her to find out what she had to do with Wild's development. They can't stay long, and Junebug says they should go to her father's cabin and try to lay low. There's a lot more going on with Wild, though, and there are a lot of people who are invested in her abilities. Will she be able to find her family? Or is she the type of dog who is destined for greater, or worse, things?
Good Points
There are a lot of nice twists and turns that I didn't see coming and I don't want to ruin. Suffice it to say that Junebug is not quite who she appears to be! This book was written in a very fast-paced, pell-mell style that was very much like watching a movie. I think that students who like spy books, dog books, or a lot of action and adventure will get into this one immediately. There's just not a good place to put the book down for about five chapters-- you just need to know what happens next. That is what my students want, but it's hard to find. There's also a lot of science, some philosophy about the idea of home and friends, and a plethora of villains! Top notch stuff. There could possibly be a sequel. I hope so!

Every good middle grade adventure should start with an explosion. This did make the beginning a bit confusing-- Wild is not identified as a dog for a bit. A few sentences about who she was would help struggling readers get their bearings before being swept up in the action.

I loved Zadoff's 2009 Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have, and even picked up his Hungry: Lessons Learned on the Journey from Fat to Thin (2007), but his other titles have been a bit too Young Adult for my crowd. Wild and Chance is a perfect middle grade adventure book with a wildly appealing cover. I'm glad to see this author delving into middle grade books that will appeal to readers of Horowitz's Stormbreaker, Lubar's Cyberia, and McIntosh's Watchdog.
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