Thursday, May 10, 2012
Just Finished Reading ... Hemlock
by Kathleen Peacock
Published by: HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen
May 8, 2012
Source: Received an e-galley from the publisher through Edelweiss. My FTC disclosure is on the right sidebar.
My summary: Abandoned by her parents, Mackenzie "Mac" Dobson is being raised in the small town of Hemlock by her cousin, Tess. A series of werewolf killings has left Hemlock residents on edge. Werewolves have roamed the United States for over a decade, and any human suspected to have Lupine Syndrome is rounded up and sent to a camp. After Mac's best friend Amy is killed by a white wolf, Mac is heartbroken. She's also worried about Amy's boyfriend Jason, whose anger and grief has led him to join the Trackers, a vigilante group headed by Branson Derby, a man whose family was killed by wolves. Mac is haunted by Amy in her dreams, and is determined to find her friend's killer, even though a werewolf might be lurking within anyone she knows -- and around every corner.
My take: This book is an interesting fusion of YA pop culture tropes: one part Veronica Mars solving her best friend's murder, one part MTV's Teen Wolf, one part Oz from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, one part YA paranormal romance.
As a mystery, this book works well. I liked getting to know murder victim Amy through her appearance in Mac's dreams. Mac is genuinely distraught over Amy's death, and wants to find the person/wolf responsible. A reader playing very close attention could put all the pieces together and solve the crime -- which is how a mystery should work! I did figure out the killer's identity, but not until close to the end of the book.
Another of my favorite aspects of the story is the small town of Hemlock and the paranoia that develops there following the series of wolf attacks. The book's depiction of small town life --- the pizza place, the local bar, the waterfront -- was vivid and interesting, and I had fun guessing which characters might secretly be werewolves. The details about the LS virus may be a little thin for sci-fi buffs, but the story offered more than enough detail for someone like me who gets the creeps thinking about pandemics.
While I liked the sense of menace the Trackers evoked in the story, at other times they seemed like an obvious plot device. We're told that the Trackers are ruthless -- rounding up anyone who might have been infected with Lupine Syndrome through a werewolf scratch or bite. Poor Mac suffers several narrow escapes from werewolves, but is barely questioned by the Trackers, despite the fact that she is injured in every attack.
Hemlock also features the ever-popular love triangle. This didn't really ring true to me-- Mac is a tough, no-nonsense girl who didn't seem to be the type to juggle two guys, especially the two guys in question. Even Mac seemed surprised by this unlikely turn of events.
All in all, I enjoyed reading Hemlock and will be curious to see where Kathleen Peacock chooses to take the sequel.
What's your take on werewolf stories?