Read Moondogs by Alexander Yates Michael J. Windsor Online


A singularly effervescent novel pivoting around the disappearance of an American businessman in the Philippines and the long-suffering son, jilted lover, slick police commissioner, misguided villain, and supernatural saviors who all want a piece of him. Mourning the recent loss of his mother, twentysomething Benicio—aka Benny—travels to Manila to reconnect with his estranA singularly effervescent novel pivoting around the disappearance of an American businessman in the Philippines and the long-suffering son, jilted lover, slick police commissioner, misguided villain, and supernatural saviors who all want a piece of him. Mourning the recent loss of his mother, twentysome­thing Benicio—aka Benny—travels to Manila to reconnect with his estranged father, Howard. But when he arrives his father is nowhere to be found—leaving an irri­tated son to conclude that Howard has let him down for the umpteenth time. However, his father has actually been kid­napped by a meth-addled cabdriver, with grand plans to sell him to local terrorists as bait in the country’s never-ending power struggle between insurgents, separatists, and “demo­cratic” muscle. Benicio’s search for Howard reveals more about his father’s womanizing ways and suspicious business deals, reopening the old hurts that he’d hoped to mend. Interspersed with the son’s inquiry and the father’s calamitous life in captivity are the high-octane interconnecting narratives of Reynato Ocampo, the local celebrity-hero policeman charged with rescuing Howard; Ocampo’s ragtag team of wizardry-infused soldiers; and Monique, a novice officer at the American embassy whose family still feels feverishly unmoored in the Philippines. With blistering forward momentum, crackling dialogue, wonderfully bizarre turns, and glimpses into both Filipino and expat culture, the novel marches toward a stunning cli­max, which ultimately challenges our conventional ideas of family and identity and introduces Yates as a powerful new voice in contemporary literature....

Title : Moondogs
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780385533782
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 339 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Moondogs Reviews

  • Lea
    2018-11-27 03:25

    3.5 starsOkay, I finished this a couple of weeks ago -- at the time I finished it, I gave it 3.5 stars, but now I'm not so sure. I'm thinking the writing probably pushes it closer to 4 stars . . .Moondogs follows several characters whose lives intertwine:There is Benicio, who has traveled to the Philippines to reconnect with his estranged father; Howard, shady businessman and Benicio's dad; Reynato Ocampo, a local policeman whose life has been immortalized in film; Ocampo's special ops unit (named Ka-Pow); Monique, an American diplomat trying to find herself in the Philippines; Ignacio and his rooster, Kelog -- the villains -- as well as several others.It's interesting to see how the characters are joined together, and the writing is very good.But . . .I went into this book expecting it to be a sort of modern-day One Hundred Years of Solitude. I love magical realism, and I was very excited to find something new to read in this vein. From the book's description: . . . Each member of this special operations unit, aptly named Ka-Pow, is endowed with a magical skill-set: there's a man who can transform himself into any animal at will; another who is a magnet for everyone else's bad luck; and their newest recruit, a troubled young soldier who can shoot to kill from any location so long as he knows the person's name.Although this is an accurate description, it made me believe that there would be far more magic in this book. In reality, these parts, while wonderful, are a very small part of the story. Essentially, this book was far too REAL for my taste. I wanted the magical parts to be the main focus of the story, but they were only a very small portion of it.I do think that this book would be worth reading, especially for those who enjoy a more reality-based story (but don't mind some magic thrown into the mix).I will definitely be on the lookout for future books from this author, although I'll be hoping for his next book to integrate even more magic into the story.

  • Scott Rhee
    2018-12-06 04:39

    According to the author, moondogs are the halo-like coronae that appear around the moon on particularly clear night skies. What this has to do with the singularly weird but entertaining novel "Moondogs" by Alexander Yates is still rather unclear to me, but it doesn't detract from my enjoyment of the story, much of which, like the title, kind of went over my head anyway. First off, it's about The Phillipines. I've never been to the Phillipines, and, after reading this book, I doubt it will ever make it on my top ten places to visit list. It is, apparently, a place replete with a rich history, some of which reflects poorly on the United States. The story begins with the kidnapping of an American businessman named Howard, who is the epitome of the Ugly American: fat, rich, disrespectful, and careless. On the same day he is kidnapped, his estranged son Benicio arrives in Manila, in the hopes of repairing their broken relationship. Meanwhile, the American ambassador to the Philipines, Monique, awakes one day to find that her husband and children have left. Surprisingly, it is not because she has been carrying on a steamy months-long affair with Reynato, a Filipino police detective with an almost celebrity-like status as a supercop. In the '70s and '80s, an actor named Carlos played Reynato in a series of popular action films, and now Carlos is running for Senate. Oh, and Reynato has been secretly putting together a death squad comprised of soldiers with supernatural powers, a commando unit he calls Ka-Pow. I know this sounds like a weird Filipino soap opera/peyote vision a la David Lynch's "Twin Peaks", and it certainly has that feel at times. It's also a pretty suspenseful thriller, a hard-boiled crime drama, a rollicking fantasy-comedy, and a not-so-flattering travelogue of the Philipines. Yates writes well, and while his inspiration clearly emanates from the novels of Thomas Pynchon and Tom Robbins, he has his own unique voice. I think this is Yates's debut novel (don't quote me on that), which, if true, is pretty damned impressive.

  • Brad
    2018-12-01 10:45

    Having gone to the Philippines for a month a couple of years ago, I have a fondness for pretty much anything Filipino. I was intrigued to discover this novel set in the Philippines as not many novels published in the US are set there. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The author does a fine job putting you right in the Philippines without going overboard. Somehow, Yates takes blends family drama, a police procedural involving a kidnapping, and characters with fantastical mystical powers. A poor kid from the South who can but a bullet into any target he can conjure in his mind. An embassy worker who can cause earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. A guy who can shape shift into any animal. If this all sounds preposterous and possibly corny, Yates pulls it off and makes it work. I enjoyed the quirkiness and strong writing of this novel. I hope others discover this fine debut novel.

  • Jennifer
    2018-12-05 07:29

    This book was bizarre and felt all over the place. There were three different storylines going on, two of which barely connected to the main one (but connected to each other) for how much room they were given in the book. I think Monique was an unnecessary character. The story didn't gain anything from her chapters and perspective. I would have been okay with the other two storylines intertwining and admittedly after a certain point I skimmed her chapters only looking for anything important. The bit of magic in the book was interesting, I enjoyed those characters. If this had been two separate books, one with Benicio and Howard, the other with Reynato, Efrem and the 'family,' each given more attention, I think it would have made for two amazing novels. Overall, being off-kilter balanced the intense nature of the rest of the story and it still felt worth the read.

  • Teresa Lukey
    2018-11-30 08:37

    WOW! Where should I start with this unique and fantastical tale? There is something for just about everybody in this book. Mystery, politics, mysticism, romance, family saga, satire, you name it...This book is completely different from anything I have ever read before and I could not wait to get back to it. In fact, my 10 year-old found me on the couch late one night barely able to keep my eye lids open and told me I really needed to go to bed, but I just wanted more.The main story follows a son, Benicio, and is father, Howard Bridgewater, who have had a falling out as a result of Howard's unfaithfulness to Benicio's mother. After Benicio's mother passes away, he decides that it's time to reconcile with his father, thus begins the fantastical tale previously mentioned.Benicio's decides to fly to the Philippines, where his father resides, to go on a diving trip with Howard. Before Benicio arrives in the Philippines, his father is kidnapped by Ignacio, a taxi driver who carries around his green smoking rooster and eventually tries to sell Howard to local terrorists.It takes about a week for people to realize that Howard has been kidnapped and an adulteress Monique from the US Embassy is assigned to manage his case and seek out the location of Howard Bridwater's kidnapper's. Monique is having an affair with Reynato Ocampo, who heads Task Force Ka-Pow and is a local police officer idolized by the community after a television show was created for him because he's known to stick up for the unstuck up for.Task Force Ka-Pow consists of four bruhos that have varying talents, from changing into another living thing to shooting someone who's miles away and out of the normal sight range. Task Force Ka-Pow is charged with recovering Howard Bridgewater, but where money is concerned there is always someone that gets their priorities mixed up.There are so many interesting characters in this book and so many other side stories I could touch on, but I will save those for the reader to discover. I cannot recommend this book enough. NOTE FOR THE SENSITIVE READER: There is some foul language and sex in this one

  • Felice
    2018-11-28 04:25

    Moondogs is a terrific novel. It's the kind of book that brings desperate elements together in an unusual location (for me) in a surprisingly off kilter way. There's a grieving son, an estranged Father, soldiers with wizard-y superpowers, a local celebrity hero cop who has inspired a series of over the top action movies, adulterous embassy employees, a meth-addicted cab driver, a smoking rooster, a prostitute and a actor with political ambitions. All these characters come together in the Philippines when the estranged Father is kidnapped by wannabe terrorists before he can reunite with the grieving son. Too many years of retail and visits from sales reps have me aching to tell you that Moondogs is blank meets blank. Not because this novel is a mish-mash of the creativity of others but because it is so original that referencing Moondogs to even the smallest similarities in other works would give you a better idea of what to expect when you read it than my tiny mind can produce. This is a twenty first century screwball comedy. The situations are realistic enough to make you appreciate the humanity in the story but at the same time so broad that the humor and almost Tall Tale qualities carry you along on a very enjoyable ride. Moondogs author Alexander Yates gets a big round of applause for this his first novel. He has balanced the unsavory with the farcical in this novel like a pro. His writing is crisp and colorful and his story is inventive and well paced. Adventure and comedy may jump off the page in Moondogs but not at the expense of a heartfelt Father Son story.

  • Melisa
    2018-11-26 08:35

    Found the book difficult to get through. Even though later in the book the story got more life. It's a book that illustrates life, the good, the bad and the ugly!

  • Cheryl Gatling
    2018-12-15 07:27

    Recently some of my friends and I amused ourselves with the question, "On the scale of 1 to 10, how weird would you say you are?" Moondogs is s novel that starts out reading like a normal story. Maybe I'd give it at most a 2 on the weirdness scale, one for being set in the exotic locale of the Philippines, and another one for having a rooster introduced on page one as a character and a villain. But Benicio (who travels to the Philippines to re-connect with his estranged father) and his girlfriend Alice seem like normal people. Monique (an American diplomat in the Philippines) and her trailing family seem like normal people. Dysfunctional, but normal. Then on page 49 Effrem Khalid Bakkar raises his rifle and shoots dead a man 30 miles away. The needle on the weirdness meter just shot up to a good 8 or 9. Turns out this is a book about superheroes. Except they aren't heroes. Superheroes only use their powers for good. These bruhos, one who can turn himself into an animal, one who turns violence into magic tricks, one who always gets hurt, but (so far, anyway) never dies, use their powers for... what do they use their powers for? Combined as the Task Force Ka-Pow, they go out after criminals because... because their boss Reynato Ocampo tells them to, because it's just what they do, because it's fun. They are, "Beautiful. Powerful. Scary. And bad." The short version of the story is that American businessman Howard Bridgewater is kidnapped, and the Task Force Ka-Pow goes to rescue him. But there is no short version. It's about Benicio and his father. It's about Benicio and his girlfriend. It's about Monique and her affair. It's about Monique and her marriage. It's about a local prostitute named Solita who says Howard fathered her son. It's about Charlie Fuentes, movie star turned politician. And then there are the minor characters. I admit that I got confused at times. Wait. Who is Edilberto again? Who is Bobby Dancer? All of these threads and characters, who at first seem to have nothing to do with each other, will end up tied in a single (messy) knot, and watching them draw together is a pleasure. Along the way, pretty much anything may happen. Because this is a weird book. Weird in a good way.

  • Alanna
    2018-11-21 08:31

    Set against the lush backdrop of the Philippines within the context of the politics and history that shape the country, MOONDOGS is a gorgeous and fantastical debut novel from Alexander Yates that challenges our conventional ideas of family, cultural identity, and how we define the place we call home. At its heart, MOONDOGS is a story of relationships—suffering and loss, love and betrayal, redemption and forgiveness, sprinkled with magical realism.After Benicio loses his mother to a fatal car crash, he agrees to spend the summer in the Philippines with his businessman father, Howard, in an effort to heal their broken relationship. But, when Benicio arrives in Manila, Howard is nowhere to be found—leaving Benicio to fend for himself in a country that feels very foreign and so far removed from his life in the States. As Benicio searches for Howard he learns more about his father’s womanizing ways and shady morals, suspicious business deals, and the possibility of an illegitimate son born to a prostitute. When his girlfriend Alice joins him in Manila, her presence is a stabilizing force for Benicio, as he seeks to escape the shadow of his father and the predictions of his mother.Interspersed with Benicio’s story are the interconnecting narratives of Monique, the American Citizen Services department head at the US Embassy whose family is falling apart under the stress of living in the Philippines; Renato Ocampo, local celebrity-hero policeman charged with finding Howard, and his rag-tag team of soldiers who each have a special magical ability; and Ignacio, a cabdriver who has kidnapped Howard and has plans to sell him to terrorists. Although MOONDOGS is primarily Benicio’s story, the rest of the characters who populate the novel reaffirm the theme of identity. Who can we call family? How can we fit in? Where is our place in the world?This is an amazing novel and Yates is a fresh new voice in contemporary literature... someone to watch!

  • Gaby
    2018-12-12 08:26

    Moondogs by debut novelist Alexander Yates set in present day Philippines combines magic, action, and satire. Yates draws on his own knowledge of the Philippines where he graduated from high school and later returned to work for the political section of the US Embassy. His familiarity with and knowledge of the place and its people comes across. While the persons, places, and events are fictionalized, his Filipino and expat characters are familiar enough that Yates could have written about people we know. The lead character is Benicio Bridgewater, the son of a Columbian mother and American father. His parents had divorced years ago and Benicio has had a strained relationship with his father for years, but following Benicio’s mother’s funeral he’s decided to visit his father in the Philippines to repair the relationship. When his father stands him up in the airport, Benicio is left angry and hurt. It turns out that his father Howard had been kidnapped by a meth-addled cabdriver and his strange companions. When the crime is discovered, local celebrity hero Reynato Ocampo and his special operations unit nicknamed Ka-Pow is called in to rescue Howard. Each member of the Ka-Pow team has a unique magical talent which Ocampo learns to harness. The characters in Moondogs run the gamut: yayas, drivers, and hotel staff, “political consultants” and actors turned politicians, pampered and privileged kids from the International School Manila, expat businessmen and “exotic dancers”, desperate hustlers, kidnappers, military men, and terrorists from the South. Yates seems to have captured much of the Philippine experience and added his own special stamp creating an unusual, rollicking read.

  • Rosemarie
    2018-12-09 04:42

    Moondogs I only have one problem, I do not like this book it is all over the place. There were times when I thought, "ok I get this now" then I don't. It is a bit hard to keep my mind wrapped around it What I did get out of it was that, Benico, Benny, who lives in Virginia, had a mother who died in January in Chicago. Benico's Father Howard lives in the Philippines. Now Howard wants to try a reconciliation with his son, he asks him to come to the Philippines. When Benico arrives he cannot find his father, he is angry that his father appears to be playing his usual games. But it doesn't take too long for him to find out that his father had been kidnapped. The kidnapper is a drug addict/taxi driver that is trying to find some terrorists group to buy Benico's American father. Howard is in the Hotel business making him a good target for kidnappers. In his quest to find his father's kidnappers Benico has to face the fact that his father is an objectionable character, even though he really does mean to do the right thing by his son Oh did I mention the Rooster? Kelog, apparently the rooster has the coloring of a Kellogg cereal box, ergo the name Kelog. His likeness is featured on the cover of this book. If you are into intrigue then you will probably enjoy this

  • Judy
    2018-12-06 09:29

    This was a very different book which touched on many genres in the fiction realm; including action, paranormal and suspense. There was a long list of very complex characters, many of whom were corrupt, immoral and dishonest people. I had a hard time finding characters that I really liked, because most of them were so flawed.The story focuses around Benicio Bridgewater who is traveling to the Philippines to visit his estranged father, Howard, with whom he is trying to reestablish a relationship. Benicio is a likeable enough character who has fought his own demons over the years mostly because of relationship problems with his own parents. Before Benicio arrives in Manila, his father is kidnapped. The ensuing action in the story focuses on recovering Howard, the complexities of the relationship between Benicio and his father, and the sub-plots that the other supporting characters create in the action related to those events. All in all, it was an interesting and well-written book. Thank you Goodreads First-Reads and Doubleday Publishing for the gift of this book. I look forward to following this author in the future.

  • Eissenn Downey jr.
    2018-12-05 08:43

    4.5 starsI fell in love with this book from page 1, where a pinoy meth addict and a chicken are introduced as villains. This is a story set in the Philippines and is consist of, perhaps, the most complex and interesting characters I've read in a while. We have a kidnapping pinoy meth addict, a villainous chicken, and his not-so-bright younger brother; an estranged father and son both seeking for re connection; a special task force team a la X-Men lead by a Dirty Harry like leader, a shapeshifter who can transform into any animal, a man who can absorb everybody's bad luck and also doesn't have the ability to die, someone who can shoot a man accurately from any distance as long as he have a name, and someone who can do magic; we have a woman who mothers two foster child and who cheats from his insomniac husband; a movie star turned senator, a prostitute, a campaign manager who got beaten up for switching sides, and a kid.I thank myself, or Ka, for bumping into this book. Such a satisfying read.

  • Carrie
    2018-11-20 05:45

    This book had me hooked and entertained more than I have been on a book in a good six months, and I've been reading a lot lately. I have seen other reviews mention that there are so many characters - and there are - but I really enjoyed how it all weaved together. I was pretty fascinated by Ka-Pow - I'd read a whole book on them!But, I am a sucker for a happy ending and if the last section of the book - book 2 - had been done differently this would have been one of my favorites of all time, no contest. I especially hated that the victim didn't ever get a break - I never like to see people suffer at random - and that Efrem was brought into a group that would just end up dissolving, and I felt like Benicio didn't get closure and should've been able to keep himself from being so tempted. The suspense of whether or not the victim would get rescued kept me into it even when I didn't like how the ending was shaping up.Still, four stars because the story is freaking awesome! I just didn't like the last 50 or so pages. I would absolutely love to see more from this author.

  • Rita Wiebner
    2018-11-17 02:31

    I won this book from Goodreads, First Reads a few weeks ago. I was in the middle of Pillars of the Earth, so wanted to wait until I was done with that to delve into this. Interesting book. It was a little bit scattered, but once you got your head around all of the characters and a bit of the backtracking within the story, it was pretty good. I feel a little let down by the ending. I really enjoyed the whole Ka-Pow crew, and wished they would have had a stronger presence in the book and had not turned out the way they did in the end. Benny's character was a bit annoying to me. Be seemed to really not mature in the book the way I think he should have. I feel the same about him at the end as I did at the beginning, confused and wary.Some things were just strange and didn't make sense to me - I didn't really get Monique's character, or Solito. Solito just didn't seem developed enough. Overall a good, quick read!

  • Kirkus MacGowan
    2018-11-18 09:39

    I usually stick to the epic fantasy genre but I am glad I stepped out of the box for this one. I was reading Chuck Sambuchino's Guide to Literary Agents blog and Yates wrote a guest post offering advice to writers. By leaving a comment, I entered a contest to win a signed copy of his book and it arrived in the mail a week later.It was a quick read, fast-paced, and interesting as well. Yates does an amazing job putting the reader in the Philippines. His knowledge of the culture and setting was obvious. The mixture of quirky humor with action, and the magical properties of the characters, came together well to tell an interesting story.While a great read, the only thing I wish he had changed was to draw out the climax a little. With the fast pace of the entire novel I can see how it would be hard to slow things down, but in my opinion it would have tipped the scale closer to five stars.Thanks for sharing your story with us Alexander Yates.

  • Philip
    2018-11-28 10:47

    Fascinating, well-written "magical realism" novel set that in the Philippines that resists easy classification. There are terrorists, U.S. diplomats, kidnappings, super-powered hit squads, martial arts chickens...Yates obviously knows what he's writing about. His portrayals of life in the Philippines (from high society Manila to countryside cock fighting), U.S. Embassy "country team" meetings, even scuba diving are not only accurate but artistically drawn. The only thing that kept this from a fifth star was the ending, which I found a little unresolved. But otherwise, a thoroughly enjoyable read from an upcoming author I'm sure I'll be seeing more from.(This book was recommended to me by my son, who had it recommended to him by his creative writing teacher at JMU. Good call, Will!)

  • Kimberly Morghan
    2018-11-18 06:40

    The author's writing style is colorful, which catches the flavor of the setting in Manilla and surrounding areas. The characters are equally colorful and full of quirks and flaws. Several of the characters have odd powers, some with more control over them than others. Then there are a few damaged relationships and politics thrown into the mix. It was an engaging story, and a fairly quick read, with plenty of action and enough double-crossing to keep you reading to find out where it would all go next. I wasn't as disturbed by the non-linear time jumping as some reviewers because I felt the author gave adequate hints to allow you to place each chapter into it's proper part of the overall narrative, and that added to the quirkiness overall. The end wasn't exactly what I'd hoped, but it wraps things up well.

  • Jane Brant
    2018-11-27 07:28

    How shall I describe this novel to an "innocent" reader? Start with a flamboyantly colored fighting cock rooster owned by a drug addicted cab driver looking for some easy money in kidnapping a "rich, fat, old white guy" American, of course. See, I bet that got you add a forlorn son who's alienated from his rich, fat, old white guy daddy and grieving for his mother done wrong by daddy dearest. Yep, I ended up not likely any of these characters in the end...maybe the son a little who does seem to look for some kind of redemption. But with all this, I must say that as a first novel, Alexander Yates got my attention...and maybe that is enough.

  • Bomalabs
    2018-11-19 03:25

    Magic-Realism in a Philippine (or should I say Phil-Am) setting. Slow at the beginning but got pretty exciting as it ends, it was more of a nagging curiosity about what will eventually happen to the characters. Having read 3/4ths of the book I really wanted to know, and so I ended up staying up until 2 AM to finish it. Because of this, I knew that I liked this book even if my first impression was I that I won't.

  • Audrey
    2018-11-26 10:28 Illustrated Review Good for: People who like ensemble casts and magical realism. The sometimes brutal graphic violence—even by … Continue reading →

  • Lee Tracy
    2018-12-18 09:41

    I loved this book. I loved the way Manila and the Philippines is a character of its own. I love the way several characters wrestle with unknown and dangerous interiors more forbidding than the jungles and cities they're in.

  • Sasha Martinez
    2018-11-29 05:29

    I hesitate to describe Alexander Yates’ debut novel as surreal. Sure, among others, there’s a retired fighting cock who likes to smoke cigarettes—and who happens to be the sidekick of one meth-addled taxi driver turned inept kidnapper—but, you know, this novel feels strangely home. Its strangeness so familiar but compelling nonetheless. Its strangeness I’ve realized to be so patently Filipino. [Obviously, it is not uncommon to find a feral rooster smoking Philip Morrises in this glorious country. Ahem.]Is this novel an accurate representative of my country? Does it matter? Heh. But, you know, like all works earnest, I think Moondogs lends an honesty rarely seen, rarely tried—especially by authors technically strangers to the land/culture/people whose stories it dares tell. A factor is the palpable affection to place. Another is the fact that Yates deals with people—in extraordinary circumstances, sure; some of them with supernatural capabilities, yes—but the novel steadfastly holds on to its characters’ emotional and psychological arcs.But let’s begin with the camp and the cray-cray. Because it’s fun. And this novel is a lot of fun. Ahem. The aforementioned rooster and his owner, who opens the novel in a fine ka-blam entrance worthy of artsy-grainy films:A man and a rooster exit a taxi idling on a crowded street. The man is short and thin, and the rooster is green, and the rooster belongs to him. The taxi belongs to him as well. He’s wearing a fresh shirt, the blood all washed out, and his polyester slacks shine a little in the afternoon light. He’s too young to be balding but is. His mouth is a rotten mess, owing to bad hygiene and a shabu habit. His name is Ignacio. He and the rooster are villains.Oh, yeah, there is also an actor-turned-politician—which is, in all seriousness, one of the most common slashie occupations in this country:Charlie Fuentes stars as Reynato Ocampo, the hardest cop in the country, maybe in the whole damn world. The one and only Mr. Tough Knocks, the Dirty Harry of the Wild Wild East, Old Snaggletooth himself. They’ve all been to movie houses to watch him stick up for the unstuckup for, fixing the nation one dead criminal at a time. They’ve all seen him press Truth, his famous shitspilling pistol, into the foreheads of men who deserve it.Too awesome for words, especially when you realize that Charlie Fuentes is a composite of every actor who’s decided to put his brusque good looks on campaign posters, to use his easy charm to lull legions of fans into committing his name to a ballot. [Having paid more than my usual attention to the last election dude: the speeches here, how Charlie pounces on drama and vote-mongering? So sweetly real, haha.]And, dear god, Task Force Ka-Pow, a small, merry band of special operatives who happen to have superpowers and are, thus, truly shitspilling themselves? There’s a shapeshifter, there’s a man who specializes in magic tricks [only, ya know, realer and deadlier], and there’s the group’s official shit magnet—if a bullet’s meant for a teammate, it will always find its way to this poor guy’s chest. And then, of course, there’s Efrem Khalid Bakkar of the Boxer Boys of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, who happens to shoot anything, anyone, from any distance—and making that shot count.Yes, several times, the novel’s energy comes close to collapsing into itself—this reader flipping pages in a mad dash to figure where the hell I was, when the bleeping shit I’m in actually took place—and the cast lead seemingly disparate lives for most of the novel [although they eventually gather into the spectacle of this novel]. You follow all these characters, superpower-ed and otherwise, and it can be overwhelming to do so; there were plenty of opportunities for Yates to tighten his narrative, or at least his telling. But, demmet, I flipped pages, didn’t I? The fun I was experiencing overshadowed any confusion that I’d suffered.Mucho characters, mucho energy. But it’s a wonderful contrast and complement between these larger-than-life characters and their more quiet counterparts. There is Monique, US Embassy bigwig-slave, dealing with the pressures of her job, adapting to a culture she’d only experienced very young, and trying to appease a family [especially her “trailing spouse”] itching to get far, far away from this sticky place and its penchant for banana ketchup.And, you know, at the center of the novel is, after all, Benicio Bridgewater, a man forced to confront the Philippines in all its mad glory, hand-in-hand with the kidnapping of his estranged hotel [and other shady deals]-magnate father. It is Benicio who must reconcile hurts of the past—including the death of a much-loved mother—and even faces off with them in the present. His father’s womanizing ways? The prostitute in his father’s hotel room who, still a stranger the night before, had given him a hard-on. The insistence that he is not his father, god no? See Benicio rubbing shoulders with the country’s political elite, all their whims and caprices, their dangerous slyness, their sheen—the power they convince him he possesses. Moondogs is, essentially, Benicio Bridgewater’s journey. Appropriate, pun-ish name, and all that. Something needs to shake him up, and, yes, by this novel’s lyrically calm conclusion, this poor boy has been shook hard.But no one is simply larger-than-life, no one is simply a—sorry—a Muggle. The novel insists on digging into these people, uncovering the humanity beneath their assumed roles. And, we realize, along with them, that no one is who they seem. Secrets have been deliberately kept, and, sometimes, we even follow the characters discover things about themselves that they’d rather not discover, or hadn’t even considered. And that’s where Moondogs really hits the mark for me.The novel—for all its focus on special operatives with superpowers, on the glitz of actors-turned-politicians, on the spectacle of a kidnapping carried out by pseudo-terrorists—insists on grounding itself on questions about family, about home, and how the places we find ourselves in influence our very identity. That’s the earnestness, that’s the bigger risk.Its realism may be playfully skewed, with comic book tropes turning camp and vice versa, but this book is all heart, with a keen sensitivity to emotional narrative regardless of the spectacles. And yes, it’s so rare to see a novel about the cray-cray capital that is Manila (and I say that with much fondness) as engagingly, as sensitively—as inoffensively, haha—as Yates has crafted.Beyond being bruhos and token expats and mainstays in seedy-sensational Manila, these are people, ya hear? People who apologize through locked doors, people who keep boxes full of returned letters, people who are sick and tired of “food cooked in vinegar and soy sauce . . . [and] spaghetti with sugar and hotdogs”—people who, dammit, would like to figure out what home means exactly, even for just a single clearest moment, even if through the crosshairs of a sniper rifle’s viewfinder.Oh, and that cover? I want that on a shirt.

  • Tony
    2018-11-28 03:26

    It's a bit of a struggle to categorize this debut novel, and that's a good thing. It's partly about a recent college grad seeking to make amends with his estranged father, who lives in the Philippines. It's partly about a famous Manila cop who is the basis for a wildly popular series of action films and his affair with a consular officer at the American Embassy. It's partly about her marriage and kids. It's partly about a low-end meth dealer who impulsively kidnaps the estranged father, but has no idea how to monetize him. Finally, it's about a special police squad made of male witches, including a sniper who can shoot and kill across hundreds of miles. And those are just the main characters...So although the main plotline is centered around the kidnapping, the story takes so many detours down so many colorful paths that it's much more than that. The book ends up being a really a surprisingly effective examination of families and feelings, even when it takes the reader into some graphic violence. Full of imagination and color, it's definitely worth checking out if you've got any interest in the Philippines or debut fiction of promise. I'll definitely be tracking down the author's next book.

  • Heather
    2018-11-30 07:47

    Colorful and enchantingly mystical, but rather disjointed.

  • Oliviaolivia
    2018-12-02 06:24

    4.5 I loved this.

  • Julie Smith (Knitting and Sundries)
    2018-12-12 10:45

    This review first appeared on my blog: quirky, unusual tale where a cigarette-smoking rooster is one of the bad guys, a band of bruhos (witches) nicknamed Task Force Ka-Pow are an arm of the good guys (or are they?), and a movie star whose fame is based on the real life of the leader of Task Force Ka-Pow is elected as a senator. Mix them with the kidnapping of a wealthy American national whose son comes to the Phillipines to visit him before anyone knows he's been kidnapped, a prostitute named Solita who claims her son June is the American's son, and an acting foreign service chief who may have her own bruha powers, and you have a tale that is wildly imaginative and inventive, with action and dialogue that will keep you turning pages.There are lots of characters here, but the author does such a wonderful job at giving us solid introductions to each of them that as you're reading, the connections between all of the individual stories begin to form, and each slice of each character is entertaining on it's own. You're never quite sure what's going to come next, and the turn of a page can lead you to another surprise.I'll bet you haven't read anything quite like this before. This is a wonderful debut novel, and I'll be looking forward to much more from Mr. Yates.QUOTES (from an ARC; may be different in final copy):The men on Efrem's island agreed that he'd been sent by God - sent for a reason. The Holy Man, someone who knew a lot about God, said it first. Efrem would take the world apart, so they could build it better. The gift was nothing to be afraid of. The angel of death was still an angel.It takes a moment for the pain to register, because his ear couldn't have just been sliced off. It's his ear. Ignacio staunches the bleeding with a dishcloth and crams the cloth into Howard's mouth to stop him screaming. Because he's screaming now. Because his ear's been cut off....Benicio really started crying. He wasn't even embarrassed about it, he just cried. Because this was so f---ing awful. Because somebody had hurt his father. They'd probably hurt him badly. And they would maybe kill him. And his father's best hope for being rescued was this guy, who, let's face it, was looking more and more like a maniac.Writing: 5 out of 5 starsPlot: 5 out of 5 starsCharacters: 5 out of 5 starsReading Immersion: 5 out 5 starsBOOK RATING: 5 out of 5 stars

  • Eve
    2018-11-17 05:41

    Moondogs by Alexander Yates manages to include pretty much every unflattering stereotype about the Philippines and/or Filipinos – corrupt politicians, cockfighting, gold-digging prostitutes, kidnapping of white tourists. I started to tell my brother about this book and he asked, half-joking, “Does it have karaoke in it?” And I had to admit that it did. The author’s bio states that he went to school in the Philippines and worked for the U.S. Embassy there so it appears he might have written from experience. If so, his experience dealt mainly with the sleazy and frightening underbelly of Manila.The characters are mostly unsympathetic, almost all with ugly secrets that become exposed as the novel progresses. There’s a sense of Manila as a place where vice is bred and fostered. Benicio wrestles with easy temptation. Howard, his father, bloats with an obscene fortune doing shady business. Monique, an American working for the U.S. Embassy, has an extra-marital affair. Even the charming, heroic “good guy” turns out to be a ruthless, greedy villain. Like the everpresent soot in the air, no one escapes besmirched or untouched – I felt soiled just reading this book. Despite the stereotypes, however, the characters are complex and memorable and the plot was never predictable. I was constantly surprised with each turn of the page. Moondogs is full of colorful and unforgettable scenes of grittiness mixed with magical realism. I’m not sure if Yates borrowed from Philippine folklore but I loved the parts about the “bruho” – people with strange magical abilities, who are gathered to form the Ka-Pow Task Force, an undercover law enforcement force headed by a legendary cop. Efrem, discovered to have the ability to see what any person is doing or where he/she is no matter how far away, is plucked from the rank and file to join the Ka-Pow Task Force. He is the innocent who enters this seedy world and his journey is the most compelling and entertaining one for me. Moondogs has violence and the unfathomable attraction of pretty women to fat, unattractive, middle-aged men, which is even harder to believe than the concept of people with undiscovered magic inside them.

  • Chris
    2018-11-19 07:48

    A seriously strange and strangely enjoyable novel. If it hadn't been for a quite unsatisfying ending, I would probably give it four stars. Yates does a mind-bending job of keeping several story lines going on parallel tracks until he braids them all together. The story centers around Benicio Bridgewater, the son of a Costa Rican woman and American father. Benicio has a slightly unhealthy relationship with his girlfriend, Alice. While Benicio has been raised in the United States, his father, Howard, has been living in the Philippines for some time and the two have become estranged. After his mother dies in an accident, the two try to mend their fences by planning a dive trip in the Philippines. In Manila, Monique is a relatively new foreign service worker at the American embassy. While she was a navy brat raised in part in the Philippines, her husband and children aren't happy there, and her husband would be less happy if he knew she was having an affair. Reynato Ocampo is a national hero, a Manila cop whose exploits are the basis for a highly popular series of Charles-Bronson like action films. What isn't known is that Reynato has gathered a group of bad-guy hunters, each with a special supernatural power. And finally there are Ignacio and Little Boy, a couple of strung-out junkies who decide kidnapping Howard and trying to sell him to Moslem terrorists could be their ticket to the big time. Throw in a prostitute, an actor, a gay political consultant, a rooster and a gecko and you've got most of the main characters. Like I said, there is a LOT going on in this story. And each character is interesting and thought-provoking in their own way. Yates is a very talented writer capable of turning out just some fine descriptions. Unfortunately there are too many strings left hanging at the end, which left me without any sense of real closure on the story. Paul Michael does an excellent job with the narration for the most part, except for making several of the Filipinos sound very Arabic.

  • Halley
    2018-12-14 03:41

    I found this book on sale and to be honest I was rather unsure about it at first. And I don't regret it.First off I would just like to give a nod to the historical fiction that had a huge impact on the story. The EDSA had just happened, Marcos had gone off to Hawaii, Ninoy Aquino has been shot and his wife, Cory, has just been inaugurated as the first female president of the Philippines (her rule would not be a peaceful one). It was a time of confusion and people basically going 'Now what.' and realizing that there is still more to be taken care of than the previous dictatorship. The way that Yates was able to show that in his characters is just amazing, I'll give him that. And his characters are great. The members of Ka-Paw were well written, every one of them. I loved it. (Trivia: bruha is witch in Tagalog. Yates also refers to Tagalog as the national language, but now it's Filipino, although it would have been Tagalog in the time the story was set.) The son, Benecio, was a little flat for me at times though; it seemed like he was just dragged off from one part to another.Now for the story.I'll admit, I'm a sucker for 'intertwined' story arcs. And this book was really well done. The writing was just fantastic, and the first paragraph got me hooked. Especially the last sentence of that paragraph, my god.Also I loved that it was set in Manila. I have visited Manila just once for a week, and let me assure you there is no love lost. But I have always wanted to read a book set in the Philippines, and Moondogs did not disappoint. I could almost feel the uneven cement under your feet and the smell of kwek-kwek. No it does not want me to go back to Manila. Ha.It was a hard read, though. I thought that I would have breezed through it no problem, but I guess the writing bogged down in some parts. The pacing was just off, and I expected the ending to be better. But oh well.Overall, I love the characters, mostly, and Yates definitely knows Manila. 3.5, definitely.