The Dog Runner is a dystopian novel set in Australia, sometime in the near future.
Civilisation has disintegrated and the entire planet is in crisis because a lethal fungus has destroyed grains and grasses everywhere. So there is nothing for animals to eat, no dairy, no bread, no cereals, no crops of any sort – only starving wild animals to hunt and fight over.
Ella, Emery and their father live in the city where violent gangs roam the streets taking whatever they can. When Dad leaves to find Ella’s mum, the siblings and a team of dogs take off into the outback to Emery’s grandparents, where they hope that some of the old ways have survived.
Bren MacDibber creates a very threatening and frightening world. Most of the overt violence happens off-stage, but it is hinted at, like the fact that Ella has her hair cut short and is dressed in her brother’s hand-me-downs because they know, without explanation, that it is safer if she passes as a boy. Along the way, the children must learn when to trust, when to lie and when to pass people by to save themselves. They mush over land on a wheeled sled that young Ella learns to master along with guns and knives.
This is a tough, uncompromising story. Ultimately hopeful, The Dog Runner is a tribute to courage, love and family from an award-winning novelist who understands the land she writes about