A horror novel that works on several levels

4.0 out of 5 stars A horror novel that works on several levels, April 1, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
John Vamvas and Olga Montes’s WHEREWOLVES is a horror novel that goes a step beyond the expected. In part, it’s about a group of troubled teens trying to survive an unthinkable horror during a school-sponsored weekend survival trip. But the actual horror here has less to do with the creatures that ruthlessly attack the teens than it does the adults who orchestrated it all – and with their ultimate motives.
WHEREWOLVES begins with a woman running frantically from some sort of creatures. Vamvas and Montes do an admirable job creating heart-pounding tension as Dilly fights for her life. We get just brief glimpses of whatever it is that’s chasing her, but it’s enough. When a hapless truck driver tries to help, things get even more chillingly terrifying. Then the novel shifts to Hooper High School where a group of unruly teens are preparing for a survival trip sponsored by their teacher, a retired military hero named O’Sullivan. These are real kids, warts and all, and they talk and act pretty much the way we would expect them to. Most of them are angry and defensive, some are bullies, a few are downright dangerous, and none of them – with two possible exceptions – are particularly likable. These are all military brats whose parents were killed or damaged in Iraq, or who have experienced other terrors in their young lives. And O’Sullivan hopes to use the survival weekend to help them get past the trauma and find the strength and heroism he believes lies within them.
Unfortunately, things go very wrong. When O’Sullivan leaves the kids on their own for the night, the same creatures we saw at the start of the novel begin to wreak havoc on the campsite, picking off the kids in horror-movie fashion. But what’s really going on? There are hints here of the 2012 film “Cabin in the Woods,” which means there’s more to what’s happening than we think. In the end, we find ourselves back at the beginning, but this time it all makes sense. And it’s more horrible than we ever could have imagined.
This novel is being marketed to the “mature Young Adult” or “New Adult” markets, which means you should expect heavy doses of profanity, sex, and violence. And Vamvas and Montes don’t disappoint. The teens in this novel pretty much do nothing but spew profanity and lust after each other. And once the carnage kicks into high gear (about two-thirds of the way in), there’s enough blood and guts to satisfy any horror fan. This is not a book for younger teens, and parents should be warned that even though the main characters are high school students this novel does not read like a YA title.
My one criticism is that the majority of WHEREWOLVES focuses on O’Sullivan’s class of troubled teens, meaning readers do have to slog through a whole lot of teen nonsense on the way to the denouement. I have to admit to getting a little impatient for the creatures to resurface as I plowed my way through the pranks, bullying, sexual repartee, and general teenage shenanigans. And there were a few of those kids I couldn’t wait to see torn apart by beasts in the night. But Vamvas and Montes do eventually deliver, and the payoff is worth the wait, so be patient. I’m just not sure New Adult readers (usually in their early twenties) would be as interested in all this teen angst as younger readers might. But with all the graphic violence, sex, and language, this is not a book for younger teens.
The authors have said that WHEREWOLVES is “not so much a horror story as it is a social commentary,” and I do agree with that. The book is more about the world we live in – and how we treat each other – than it is about monsters in the night. “Despite their lack of likability,” the authors said, “we hope our characters’ humanity shines through, thus distorting the reader’s concept of good and bad, black and white, right and wrong.” That’s an excellent assessment of what happens in WHEREWOLVES. This is one horror novel that will have you thinking long after you’ve finished reading.

Wherewolves!!!! Not your typical monster tale.

5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn’t stop reading!

The book starts off with a pretty decent action scene which gets your attention. The action is described using short bursts of sentences, not long and overburdened with excessive detail. Some people like too much detail but I like a smooth read where I don’t need Google translator for the big words (yes I’m literate, but like I said I enjoy fun, smooth reads.)

The dialogue, the important part, is VERY believable and even the characters thoughts come out as believable. By that I mean the dialogue is something that you’d most likely actually hear, not contrived. The dialogue and character interactions are true-to-life and sometimes disturbing. Its a sad fact that kids can get tormented emotionally by peers and I love how the book chronicles both the main story and the characters lives without creating havoc. The characters develop just enough to pull you in, and they make those hard choices that, in reality, would most likely occur. For instance, if facing a monster and hanging over a cliff would you A) get eaten B) let go and fall?

The teens act and behave just as real teens do, and if you don’t have kids you might not get into this aspect. When dealing with monsters its important to have as much realism as possible which leads to the chills and furrowed brow. As you read, the pages are filled with the thoughts of the characters so that you can follow the story from your perspective AND theirs. It was like a fantasy rendition of The Breakfast Club at times. Not in a boring way, but in an interactive way.

The first action scene is followed up by a surprise action scene which was more like a gift because most books go from the initial action to the story line. This book went from action to story line/action and it didn’t let up for awhile.

THERE ARE TWISTS and they start on page 15. Where did the girl go? Actually, her showing up alive was the first twist. After all that, you expect her to ‘turn’ and eat hospital people but you get….a twist. They aren’t complicated twists, only fun. You don’t have to do a lot of thinking or figuring out, not those kind of twists, but twists where you THINK the story will keep heading one way and then it goes “nope” and suddenly turns you to the right a bit…then the left….then straight then to the right again. Its crazy how much i loved this read.

It keeps you engaged because you HAVE to know what is happening. The first chapter didn’t seem to stop. It was so full of action that I literally couldn’t even stop to answer my door. Whomever it was can come back. I was at the diner scene and not stopping.

So basically, short and easy to digest writing style. True and believable dialogue. Wonderfully detailed without over-use of big words or redundant fight scenes. It reminded me a bit of Lord of the Flies versus Silver Bullet but only way cooler. For whatever reason, i couldn’t physically stop reading until the 3rd chapter