Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
March 20, 2018
Are you looking for something in the vain of old school horror movies and books? IF so, you should definitely read Wherewolves by John Vamvas and Olga Montes, this book seriously scared the pants off me. From the very beginning of the book, the adrenaline is pumping, but you don’t know which way is up, I loved it!
A group of high schoolers are headed to a survival camp over the weekend. While at the camp the teenagers learn to how to act in moments of necessary survival, and eventually they start to get a little bit better at the whole camping thing. Eventually their friendship and loyalty turns vicious. One after another the kids start to disappear from the campsite, which freaks the remaining kids out. Soon they realize that they may be facing something that they didn’t think was real, but it sure does seem like there’s something more than human out in those woods, possibly werewolves.
One of my favorite story telling tactics is to start from the end, which is how this book starts, and it seriously freaked me out. It freaked me out so much that I had to keep reading, and every single word in this book was just amplifying my fear, in a fantastic way. I absolutely adored this book, and cannot wait to see if these two write more books. I give this one 5 out of 5 stars, I guarantee this book will get the hair on the back of your neck standing on end!
When the authors first sent me this novel, I wasn’t too excited about it. The title immediately suggests it to be a paranormal horror, and I imagined characters cowering in the dark as a fluffy thing with teeth prowled outside their walls, trying to claw its way in. Wherewolves surprised me, as it’s so much more than that, and the fluffy thing with teeth was only a small part of the horrific jigsaw I tried desperately to piece together.
The first 10% of the novel starts off as we’d expect, with a woman running for her life from (you guessed it) two fluffy things with teeth. The suspense here is unreal, and the atmosphere created is one of sheer confusion and panic. We’re thrown in at the deep end, and we think we’re on a chronological line with some idea of what we’re dealing with. We are incorrect.
The narrative then abruptly removes us from the forest, and throws into more familiar, yet similarly terrifying, surroundings – a high school. It’s here we are treated to an in-depth characterisation of each of the students, and this does wonders to help us understand their fears and motivations. It’s true to life high school, with bullying, shallow relationships, and the power struggle of popularity. The knowledge we gain of the students helps make the carnage, when it comes, much more interesting as we see how humanity differs when faced with a fight or flight situation.
It takes a while to get to the violence, but the build-up makes this rewarding. The students are taken on a trip to the forest as part of their soldier training. Rather than a study of supernatural monsters, it’s more of a study on the human condition, and how we treat other. The characters react to emotional abuse, each of them battling with their own inner demons carved from traumatic past experience.
The suspense, gore, and violence involved is worthy of a B-movie. I particularly liked the monsters remaining ever so slightly out of sight, adding to the tension, saving us from an overdone focus, and keeping the unknown behind the veil until the last moment. There are a good few twists thrown our way which make us question everything we’ve already learned; I love being kept guessing until the last gasp and being forced to change my perception, so this was a welcome device. Seeing everything come together at the end, and basking in the horror of it all was wonderful.
Vamvas and Montes had originally written this story as a screenplay, which I’m pleased to hear is currently in production. At times, it really does feel like reading a screenplay; details seem to have been added as an after thought, and dialogue takes precedence over description. This doesn’t actually impact the enjoyment of the story too heavily, instead adding to the fast paced character development, which is an important factor. I do feel some more descriptive elements could have helped the novel flow more smoothly.
A true social commentary where we come to understand monsters are human, and can be made that way by other humans. An incredibly worthwhile read, which I’m glad I was asked to review – thank you.
★★★★★ It’s by far the best book I have read this year if not in the last 18 months. Twists and turns, with a very different take on a classic tale of the monster lurking inside. Looking forward to the sequel.
We are then later introduced to the characters of the class. It is clear early on that Doris and Jeffrey are teased quite a lot by their peers. They are viewed as the class geeks, making them a target for nasty comments and pranks. Their parents and teacher, Sergeant Tim O’Sullivan, make matters even worse for the two as they are pressured into taking part on a survival trip that neither want to go on. This would leave them being surrounded by a whole class of taunters, and who knows how far they’ll go!
Jeffrey and Doris are not the only two to stand out from the rest. Elie is also recognised as different due to his Arabic roots and does receive some racist comments. Some of the main characters take it upon themselves to ensure that Elie doesn’t make it to the trip. The dialogue, jokes, mockery and bullying are certainly areas that anyone who has experienced High School will empathise with, and the strength of the modern-day dialogue will connect young and new adult readers (I would recommend 15ys+).
Once on their camping trip for their survival weekend the story begins to twist. The plot is unpredictable and doesn’t work out quite the way as expected. Is it a paranormal, or is it a teenage horror? Or both? There is the suspicion of the super-human reaction, brought on by a new drug, that has been mentioned on the news not too far from where the group are camping that may explain what is going on. But then again, amid the hills and trees, who knows what lurks about in the darkness just waiting for it’s next kill! Or, could it be that Elie has been pushed too far and decided to retaliate?
As one by one the class students are being killed the tension escalates to a higher level. The reader will have to keep on reading to find out what is happening, and who or what is being so savage. With so many class students to remember I did get a little lost keeping track of some of them as they disperse and run from these terrible beasts. This would be easier to follow if watching the screenplay and visualising them on stage or on screen.
I also felt that when reading the dialogue between the students early on it was very much like reading a script, albeit with a little more description. As a book this made the reader wait a little too long before the action really began to start up again. However, as a screenplay and watching it on stage I would imagine the atmosphere to be electric. The book may benefit in parts to a little more description and atmosphere building to create a more fluid read and even more tension.
That said, the authors do get their message across very clearly. Whilst there may be dangers out there in the world, we are a danger to ourselves. The way in which we treat each other, hold grudges, taunt and attack is sometimes the biggest beast of them all. Wherewolves shows how a group of people, some of whom can’t stand each other, can pull together during times of trouble in order to survive. And a message to the younger reader in particular is to not mistreat others. You never know who the bigger beast will be eventually, and you may need to pull together to beat an even bigger one!
Wherewolves is a lively story throughout, whether it be from the taunting and jeering between the students, or the action and horror. As it draws to an end you can really see the brilliance as everything comes together, and even areas that haven’t been explained earlier are covered later on. It is well worth the read, and I would imagine it would be fantastic to watch!
A copy of Wherewolves was provided by the author, Olga Montes, in return for a fair and honest review.
This is a clever book. It lets you think you’ve got it all figured out, when really you’ve only grasped a portion of what’s going on.
This is the first time that I’ve ever read a book based on a screenplay that was written as a way to garner interest for said screenplay. And while I have no doubt that Wherewolves could make a great movie, I prefer it as a novel. There are some interesting ideas presented here that could be completely ruined if not done properly. Thankfully, whether this movie gets made or not, we will have the story in this form.
Wherewolves follows a group of mostly military brats that are preparing to embark on a weekend-long survival course. To say that you’ll dislike these characters is an understatement. Make no mistake, these kids are asshats by design. Even the authors acknowledge this at the end, stating that they hoped it didn’t ruin their humanity. I don’t believe it did. They felt genuine. People suck, and teenagers often are the dredge of society. For me they were tangible characters. I never felt sorry for them, but they seemed like real people. (Except for the red-headed kid named Billy Bob. Red-headed kids are never named Billy Bob. More likely Stewart or Phillip.)
The weakest part of the book personally, was the motivations of the teacher, O’Sullivan and his brother. It spells it out for you, but it didn’t feel authentic. The thing that impressed me most was the sensation that these could all be real individuals. Everything about their motivations and reactions felt organically plausible. Except for Tim and Brian O’Sullivan. They had a purpose to serve in the story, I just would have liked it to have been hashed out a bit more. A small gripe in the grand scheme, truly.
The Kindle edition says it is 306 pages long. It felt like 100. In a world where Stephen King drones on for about 100 pages too many, I was left wishing there were more pages to Wherewolves. As a reader, that’s the problem I want to have. You can get your copy and start reading today from Amazon. I highly suggest you do.
Jacob Hopkins November 18, 2014
Posted: August 29, 2014 in Freakin Friday, horror, reviews, werewolves
I’m a huge fan of B- movies and this reads like a good one. As I read each scene I easily and gleefully visualized it, every bloody bit of it.
A group of troubled teens are taken into the woods for a survival weekend. The teacher leaves them to fend for themselves. I know. Seen ir or read it before…. you think.
The author brings a lot to the table, introducing you to the characters which consist of the typical jocks, bullies, and geeks. You get to know what drives them, what scares them, before they even enter the woods that night.
As dark approaches, they huddle around the campfire telling stories. It might not be a cozy gathering, but things aren’t too bad. Until they sense something watching them.
This is where the story gets gritty. I love character driven novels and how, when a group is faced with a life or death situation, the dynamics come into play. It takes just a few hours for the fight or flight instincts to consume the teens and chaos to reign once some of the group go missing.
The screaming and snarling from the deep dark of the woods scatters the group and they fear each other as much as what’s stalking them.
The authors brought it all to the table, the fear of the dark, the peer pressure, the teen angst, and the will to survive. This book may have teen characters, but I don’t think there’s much difference between how they acted and a group of adults would act. If you’ve watched Stephen King’s The Mist, you can see how quickly adults succumb to their own fears. In fact, I think the teens might be better prepared for something like this. They aren’t that far from when they feared the bogey man under the bed and may be quicker to believe the unimaginable.
From the title you get a clue to what’s stalking these teens. Feral beasts from your nightmares. These aren’t shifters. They don’t turn into humans and they are horrific in their maniacal glee as they rampage through the group.
I knew what was waiting out in the woods, I knew not everyone would survive, and I knew some would turn on each other and that filled me with trepidation, built the tension to a fever pitch, and had me jumping when my dog suddenly barked at something outside. His own special effects to set the mood for me.
I just love a good werewolf book without the shifter glamour and romance. It was a bloody frolic right to the deliciously wicked ending.
What a rush to this story! Ok I’m getting ahead of myself.
A group of trouble teens is dropped off in the woods for a weekend of surviving on their own. While their teacher watches from afar. There is already tension and animosity among the teens, but being away from adults unleashes it all. But as night falls, things start happening. Guns come out, pants drop, and people change. Around the camp fire the teens talk about werewolves and how one of them could be one. Doris and Jeffery the geeks are in their element. It becomes clear that something or someone is watching them as the night progresses. It doesn’t take long for the teens to start turning on each other, not trusting, afraid and confused as to what is happening.
Can they survive the weekend? Can they survive themselves?
This is a fast paced ride through blood and guts. Being a child of the 80′s and growing up on movies like this one, took me home! The best thing about this book, it’s written for the big screen. I found myself caught up in this book, trying to picture how it would look on the big screen. The plot is well scripted and kept me guessing all the way up to the end. Honestly, I’m surprised I didn’t faint from reading this book as many times as I held my breath. The story pulled me in and made me one of the teens in the story, I was caught up in the action, fearing for my life. The down side for me, to many kids – 18. I had a hard time remember who was who and who was together, I knew who hated who, that was easy.
The book starts off with a young woman running away from creatures, seeking refuge with a truck driver in his cab. And whatever is out there seems to be attacking his cab as well despite him driving fast.
We are than taken back about 2 days or so prior and are introduced to Doris, a High School Student and clearly an oddball, dresses differently and likes werewolves. She does not fit in with the rest of the ‘popular crew’ at school and gets bullied ruthlessly by the others. Only Jeffrey, a fellow student, gets bullied even more. In the first chapters, we get introduced to all 18 of the students who are preparing to go on a ‘survival camp’ weekend with their ex-military teacher, Tim O’Sullivan who wants to toughen them up. Once in the camp, strange things start to happen. First, all students seem to lose all their inhibitions, which for some of them really goes beyond their usual behaviour. But it is getting worse, and something is lurking out there.
I did enjoy this fast-paced read. I understand it is written for a movie script, and I can absolutely see this as a movie. It is not just teen/slasher, but there is a deeper background. Without giving too much away, each of the 18 students has their individual story which gets revealed as you read along, and there are reasons why some of them behave in a certain way i.e. is there more to the bullying than meets the eye. My favourite character (though not one of the lead characters) is probably Dawn who is deeply traumatised by her parent’s death which she witnessed and unable to speak since. None of the kids ‘background stories’ is giving in great detail and long explanations, but is interwoven, and this certainly brings the story along without stalling and without unnecessary padding. I did find the writing very refreshing. It does get a bit gory at the end, with torn body parts etc, but this is what we expect from a werewolf story really, don’t we?
I did had a bit of trouble at the beginning to extinguish between the different teens – there are 18 of them. I had to go back a few times so see ‘so who was that again?’ – obviously that won’t be so much of an issue with a film version. Some of them are more distinguished than others, but the authors do ‘show’ rather than ‘tell’ their individualities i.e. Ronald whose nickname is Obama because he looks like the president, Elie who his disliked because ‘his folks’ are to blame for the US going to war (i.e. he is Muslim). It also becomes clear that they all live near a US Army base, so the life of most of them is in one way or another effected by being the children of Army personnel. And teacher O’Sullivan might have other motives as well rather than just being someone who wants adventure for their kids.
While there are some sexual scenes, it is nothing explicit and I would think it can be read from 16+ definitely.
Overall, an enjoyable read, and I’m looking forward to the movie version. I did like the ending and for me personally, even though there is a lot of blot and guts here in the final chapters, in a twisted way it is also a positive story about raising above bullying and overcoming personal problems. Yes, some might disagree that it is a rather drastic way of dealing but than, it is fiction, and it is suppose to make us think and challenge.