Happy Saturday, guys!
We're doing a quick review of Max: Best Friend. Hero. Marine. today. The film is playing in limited release, and if you're anything like me, you probably bawled when you watched the trailer.
So when HarperCollins sent me the film adapation, I was definitely intrigued enough to read it!
Paperback, 253 pages
Published June 2015
Max is a highly trained military canine who has always protected his fellow soldiers. But when he loses his handler and best friend, Kyle, Max is traumatized and unable to remain in the service.
He is sent home to America, where the only human he connects with is Justin, and he is soon adopted by Kyle’s family, essentially saving his life. At first Justin has no interest in taking care of his late brother’s troubled dog. However, the two learn to trust each other, which helps the four-legged veteran become his heroic self once more. As the pair starts to unravel the mystery of what really happened to Kyle, they find more excitement—and danger—than they bargained for. But they might also find an unlikely new best friend—in each other.
The book introduces us to Jake, who has spent much of his life feeling like he has been living in older brother Kyle's shadow. However, when Kyle is killed in Afghanistan, Justin is asked to take care of his brother's canine partner, and soon realizes that there was a lot about his brother and his life in the military, that he didn't know.
What I liked the most about Max, is the fact that the authors (and by proxy, the screenwriters) delves into something that is not often discussed: how younger siblings and canine partners acclimate, after losing someone in combat. They do so wonderfully here, showing both the pressures of trying to live up to someone who is no longer around, while also struggling with the grief and overall recovery process.
The authors beautifully explore how Max and Justin are very much united in their grief, and Justin's struggles to understand the various levels of said grief. He has to come to terms with the fact that Max represents a life that he believes took Kyle away from him, but also with the understanding that because of their mutally shared grief, he's the only person who can continue to advocate for Max's recovery. It's a touching reminder on how it's sometimes the hardest things that we face, which help us the most.
Outside of the core story between Justin and Max, the writers also do a nice job of touching on some of the misconceptions and misperceptions that come with family-related drama. There's a nice storyline involving with Justin and his father, and also a great storyline on Justin's friends learning to stand up for themselves.
Ultimately, while I don't make it a habit of reading novelizations of films, Max was a thoroughly enjoyable read. I strongly recommend this book for younger readers, who may have questions after watching the films. This book helps provide a deeper level of analysis to the story.