Call of the Wild: Jack London and Carl Waters
Sometimes the decisions we make although well thought out turn out to be anything what we expect or want. Born into a wealthy family, a father whose a judge and raisin farmer, given everything he could possibly want, Buck Miller turns a blind eye to it all, leaves the woman he wanted to marry to find gold and riches in the Klondike. Unprepared for what happens as he leaves the comforts of his home, never realizing that what lies ahead would change his life, his direction and outlook. Kidnapped by vampires, bitten by a dog and turned into a werewolf and forced to work as a sled dog for a vampire. Unaccustomed to the life, the enemies, the cruelties and learning how to fend off others, Buck learns many hard lessons before all is said and one. Trained, beaten, forced to live in a cage, deal with others that are now like him, the metamorphosis is challenging, great as one young man becomes something most humans are not and learns that the only way to survive is to fight, steal and kill. The weather might be worse than some of the winters experienced within many of our stages, survival skills that he needs to learn and overcoming attacks from predators, jealousies, cruel masters who are out to make money at his expense and that of others, Buck has to decide just how far he will go to get food, deal with other werewolves, find a way to regain his humanity or forever lose sight of the person who he wanted to be and is. Reading the paper on a daily basis never suspected what was about to happen to him. The gold rush might have been what enticed him to start but no one realized who controlled it. La Zanna Nera: Black Fang: or as I quote from Chapter One: Whose thirst for blood was matched only by their greed. Wanting vampire dogs and the dogs they desired were heavy and had strong muscles and enough fur to protect them from the cold weather. So, where does Buck fit in? Stealing, crating and taking these young men, turning them into dogs and making sure they were never seen again. With rich parents, a judge for a father, you would think that no one would attempt to take anyone from someone so powerful. Buck loved the outdoors, hunting and was muscular. But, would he survive what was and is in store for him? The year is 1897 and the Klondike strike sent many men to the North. Hoping to follow in his father’s footsteps, marry Ysabel Lawrence and live a wonderful life, why did he decide on adventure and learning more about the unconquered Klondike?
As you learn more about his plight, how he learns to defend himself against his own breed, listening to those in charge whose language is quite different from ours or his, you hear his inner most thoughts, fears and desires yet he does not balk at his new surroundings, his new appearance instead he finds ways to avoid conflict until he cannot.
Assimilating into a routine was hard at first and the harshness of his owners even more. But, as with humans these dogs or werewolves were no different each one vying for position and some bullying others into submission. Fights among the dogs was not uncommon and although Francois and Perrault tried to lead them and make them work until they could not longer move, the end result would at times be tragic as in the case of Dolly who went mad. But, even with children there is often one that is your nemesis or rival and in the case of Buck was Spitz. Described in detail the violence between them, the fierceness and the anger both possessed the only way that it could be settled would be a fight to the finish. Buck wanted to lead the pack and leadership was a role that he intended to win at all costs. Dave was the wheel dog, Solleks pulled with all of his strength but Buck wanted to take the lead with pride leading the others and holding them to task. But, Spitz made him thrash and would not give up as Buck decided that the only way to avoid being slammed and punished anymore was to make sure that justice was served and he did not get caught when doing something wrong. With Buck interfering between Spitz and anyone that he tried to bully, his general insubordination increased, could they hold him down or would they finally relent? Within Chapter three we learn more about the breakdown of discipline, Buck’s rise to power and Spitz final moments. But, although he won this round it did not endear him with his owners and things became more difficult and the dogs began to wither and the end result would be pain, grieve, starvation and defeat. Lies, betrayals, deceit, hate, anger and many human qualities take hold within Buck as his learns many lessons in life that most people never realize. Survival skills are honed in on and what happens in one scene will bring tears to your eyes and smiles of hope to your heart as one brave woman stands up to them all and Buck no longer has to fear the whip but learns the true meaning of love and trust. The cruelties that are inflicted are unconscionable
Author jack London wrote this book in 1903 and Carl Waters brings it back to life in the present. The Alaskan gold rush, the characters that are unique to the time period and the surroundings as in the original we remember that a dog named Buck was kidnapped and sold to the Canadian government and mistreated. The beatings are graphically depicted on both versions of the book as the whip hits the flank of the dogs and the blood spurts out. But, within the pages of this version a woman named Joan Thornton stands up to the men, proves a woman can stand tall and saves his life. As we get to know Joan we realize that the loyalties go both ways and even though he is faithful to her we realize that the need to killer and his killer instinct comes front and center at all times. Leaving his human form and yet eventually being able to retake it, Buck becomes faithful to his new master and yet needs to be free. Humans have their own frailties and failings as do the dogs in this story as each one carries his/her own burden and has to deal with the pain and strife in his/her own way. Within this story Buck is the son of a judge whereas in the original he is a large St. Bernard and half German Shepherd. He was not one of the judge’s kennel or house dogs. He walked with his master and hunted with the judge’s sons.
Within the 162 pages we come to love and respect Buck for what he has become and how he has managed to survive. Wanting to be the leader of the pack and hoping to be the king of his domain what happens when he goes off on his own and returns will not only transform him but change his life forever. Returning to a massacre and dealing with those that destroyed and killed the people he loved, Buck turns into a vicious killer and the final scenes will either endear you to him, cause pause for thought or make you wonder just where he will wind up. Will he continue to transform? Will he become the leader of a pack? Will he roam looking for prey forever? When people think about the Ghost Wolf and know he’s near and he travels to the valley of which the Yeechats do not know is he alone or are there many that follow him?
Removed from civilization, hoping to rise above and rule, living by the lash and the harshness of others would that harden him to the kindness bestowed on him if someone else comes into his life? Will he wander alone forever? Using the real names of the humans that were transformed, their plight and there fate, the author keeps the story real, realistic and the reader begins to understand by sides of each character. Enjoying the word, hardnosed, deeply spirited and strong -minded, Buck lets readers know that through adversity there is always the light of day when the darkness lifts. His courage, his bravery and his will to live is amazing as the taskmaster whips lash out, strike them hard and try to teach them lessons that some parents try to teach their children. Abuse is wrong.
I wonder if Buck had to make the same decision over again knowing the outcome and his fate whether he would do it the same way over again. Powerful story and powerful novel told in a different way yet reminding us that Jack London was a great author and Carl Waters added his special touch and own flare to this outstanding novel. Survival of the fittest you might say and the courage to stand his ground and never give up! Great lessons for everyone to learn.
Fran Lewis: Just Reviews