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Review: Laika

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Laika Laika by Nick Abadzis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the story of a Russian dog sent to the earth orbit in Sputnik II, Laika (lit. the barker). The story was sad but that’s what happened in a real life. I feel like it’s a story of helpless, trapped characters.

There was a chief designer who was forced to answer his leader wish to launch something into space in a month time, the team who had to make adjustments here and there and decided to not include the return-to-earth plan, the dogs carer/instructor who knew a little too late about the whole plan and had nothing on her hand to stop it, and of course Laika who could not do anything but to submit to whatever mankind had decided to do with her life.

Throughout the story, I also gradually became helpless, I found it hard to blame anybody. The nearest person I’d like to curse might be the chief designer. The leader? I stay away from him, they’re Russian. But then again the chief designer was just doing what he had been told to. And it was not just that, before he was a chief designer, he was wrongly accused and got prisoned. He struggled through hard times but he didn’t give up. I like how he kept reminding himself by saying: “I will not die. I am destined to be somebody big. I will not die” (pardon my sentences, I read the Indonesian translation and have not checked the original edition). That’s how the opening goes, him walking in a stormy night trying to get to Moscow with a hope to get his name cleared.

Laika’s life before Sputnik II is also portrayed in a way that I root for the dog because of her patience. She was loved of course, she was told to be one special dog. But she also managed to keep running into people who wanted to hurt her (can I count the Sputnik team in?). What mesmerized me was Laika seemed to keep her faith in kindness and in human. Is it because she is a dog? But I’ve seen dogs in Dog Whisperer TV shows that got traumatized. Or maybe because it’s just a graphic novel and the author got to decide? I don’t know, I haven’t yet to find out how deep the author’s research for this novel.

More heartwrentching point? There’s a quote from the chief designer at the end of the novel. He said that the information gathered from the Sputnik II launch was not significant. It didn’t have contribution to the first human trip to space that happened 4 years after Sputnik II. At this point, the for-science excuse immediately faded away and the unforgiving thought in my mind wondered if Laika died to only fulfill the leader’s wish.

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Written by Elfira Y S

July 8th, 2012 at 11:56 am

Posted in my bookshelves

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