Benighted

Benighted

Benighted

By Kit Whitfield

Del Rey

ISBN: 0-345-49163-7

4 stars

Lola May Galley is human. When the moon rises, she does not go lyco. Instead of growing fur and howling at the moon, she sets out with others from the Department for the Ongoing Regulation of Lycanthropic Activity (DORLA) to catch stray lycos and criminals who haven’t locked themselves up properly. She is a human in a world run by werewolves. She is looked down upon for being born non-lyco (considered a disability by most in her world), and like all others with her disability, she spends her days and nights working for the lycos in a lyco run world.

During a full moon, a friend loses a hand when a lune goes bad and then he ends up murdered before the attacker is brought to trial. She finds herself wrapped up in a case that runs much deeper than she thought with societal implications that leave her terrified and almost numb.

I know vampire and werewolf stories are starting to run thin, and even I myself, who happens to like stories with these creatures, am getting a bit tired. Yet, after reading In Great Waters, I found I liked Whitfield’s writing and wanted to read more. I found Benighted and became entranced with her world. She takes the normal werewolf story and turns it upside down. It is now the humans living in poor conditions, fighting prejudice at the hands of a world run by werewolves, and living degrading and horrifying lives. Being born a bareback (the negative term given to those children born head first and human) means living a life only to attend to lycos. They are given no other choice and for them it is a sad, scary, dangerous, and mostly short life.

Lola was the only non-lyco born in her family and she lived her entire life wondering what it would be like to turn with the full moon. When she finds herself in a relationship with a lyco, she ends up finding answers to questions that she never thought about. The devastating consequences make for a good, and sad, story. There are some, more like many, disturbing moments in this book. When Lola talks about her childhood I felt like she shared a bit too much and I wished she would take some of it back but it was already on the table at the point. It took me a while to like Lola even though I felt for her from the start. She does things that she hates, and begins to hate herself with good reason. It’s unfortunate that she feels, and in many cases is right, that she has no other choice. For someone in her position, it is only a life of servitude and nothing more even if she is made to feel free. It is the life she was born into and nothing will change her. She becomes more hardened against the outside world and that’s just to keep herself sane.

Whitfield is a good writer and I enjoyed this one much more than In Great Waters. Even if you’re tired of werewolves, I’d say give this one a chance. It’s an interesting, if sad and disturbing, world to get drawn into. There are a lot of themes at play, many of which I haven’t even touched on here, that leave you wondering more about societal ramifications than actual werewolves. It’s a dark world to get drawn into.

Shiver

Shiver

Shiver

By Maggie Stiefvater

Scholastic Press

ISBN: 978-0-545-12326-6

4.5 stars

Grace is a normal high school girl. Her parents, while loving, are lax in the parenting department and and she’s learned to raise herself. She’s a good student, has friends, and a thing for the wolves in the backyard — specifically the one with yellow eyes. As a child, she was attacked by a pack of wolves and she’s convinced the yellow-eyed one saved her. Now, she spends many nights in the backyard trying to befriend him. When a student from her class is attacked, the town sets out to destroy the wolves and Grace is determined to stop them fearing her wolf will be hurt or even killed.

After trying to stop the culling, she returns home to find a naked boy on her back porch bleeding. Oddly, he has the same yellow eyes as her wolf. Grace takes him to the hospital, and when he reveals his miraculous healing ability, she takes him home. Sam, her wolf, has been in love with her since the day he saved her and knowing this will be his last year to become human, wants to spend every waking moment with her. Grace, knowing she has finally found her wolf, refuses to let him go even when it might mean death.

Werewolves are now it for me. I don’t know why I haven’t been reading more all along. Or maybe I’ve just been reading the wrong werewolf books.

Either way, while the werewolves were fascinating, the relationship is was what really hooked me. Yes, the boy is a wolf, but somehow when Grace and Sam are together, you believe these two individuals belong together and the rest of the cold, cruel world fades away. You don’t want to see them part and when the inevitable happens, it’s heartbreaking and somehow very real.

I had to remind myself that I was reading a young adult book in a few places. The romance is pretty tempered, they are high school kids, but intimate in many ways I didn’t expect. After I finished the book, I felt I would have liked to know more about the wolves, how they came about, and a little bit more about why they changed. The ending felt a tad out of place for me but that’s really my only criticism here and it didn’t hit me until after I had finished. I was so into the book that at the time it seemed plausible. I plan to check out more of Stiefvater’s books. I really like her style and way with characters.