Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Last Werewolf Hunter by William Woodall

Title: The Lost Werewolf Hunter: The Complete Series
Series: The Lost Werewolf Hunter
Author: William Woodall
Length: 9931 Kindle units
Rating: 4 stars

The Plot

Zach doesn’t want to be a monster, which is a problem since his family seem bound and determined to turn him into a werewolf, whether he likes it or not. To avoid this fate, Zach runs away from home and searches for an uncle that he never met. He thinks that his only choice is to flee, but he slowly discovers that he may be the only person with the power to end the werewolf curse, once and for all.

The Good

At the risk of crossing the line into pretentious critic, I have to say that what I liked best about The Last Werewolf Hunter was the voice. (I know, I know. Next thing you know I will be coming out of movies talking about how amazing the sound editing was.)  I really feel as if I am in the head of a southern teenage boy, and though the phrasing is often colloquial, it is never unclear.

When I was asked to review this book, I was warned that it “had some Christian elements” but not in a bad way. I feel obliged to offer the same warning, though I actually feel that, if anything, it was Christian in a good way. Zach was not preachy or judgmental but tried to live his life according to Christian tenets of looking for good in people and, you know, not killing them, even if they were werewolves who had made some morally dubious choices. I’m not going to say that hardcore atheists would want to read the book, and there is some mythologically irrelevant praying over cursed stones. But if you don’t have a problem with theoretical Christianity’s “love thy neighbor” and such, you probably won’t have a problem with the book either.

The Bad

The Last Werewolf Hunter is really more of a middle grade book than a young adult book. This is not necessarily a bad thing if that’s what you were looking for, but there are reasons that I try to keep my reviews to the YA genre. The first of the three books was basically the story of a boy surviving on his own. (Which gave me unfortunate flashbacks to my 7th grade reading teacher who loved survival books and once mocked me in front of the entire class for not feeling the same way. God, I hated that woman.) The second two books picked up some, but at nearly 10,000 Kindle units, The Last Werewolf Hunter is definitely the longest book I have reviewed yet, and that’s a lot of words to get through if you’re not that into it.

I would say that the biggest issue with the book that does not have to do with personal preference is the emotional distance Zach seems to have from some of the events taking place. In the first book, Zach is reading Robinson Crusoe, and I imagine that the parallel is intentional. The problem is that while Daniel Defoe did a great thing in writing the first ever novel in the English language, what he wrote was largely a list of happenings with none of the emotional depth that modern readers expect. The Last Werewolf Hunter definitely makes vast improvements on this score, but sometimes you want to shake Zach and yell, “Your cousin is in a jar! Show emotion!”

The Romance

Zach does not meet his love interest until the third book in the series, which makes perfect sense, given that he is twelve and fourteen years old in the first two books, respectively. He meets Jolie on the first page of book 3 and then falls in love with her fairly quickly. Their relationship has a few pitfalls – like that she and her family might kill werewolves and loot their stuff or that he needs to break into her family’s secret lab to enact his plan. All in all, though, they seem relatively happy with each other. I do find it a little unlikely that they would be quite so gung-ho about the romance when so many of their relations were quasi-dead. But, you know, teenagers in love, what can you do?

Will I read more?

Since the subtitle for this book is “The Complete Series,” and since the ending is pretty definite, I don’t imagine there will be any more to read. Of course, at the end of both the second and third installment, Zach thought he had achieved his ultimate goal only to discover in the next book that he had more to accomplish. So it would not be outside the realm of possibility for Zach to find out that he had yet another quest, like now needing to rid the world of vampires.

If such a thing were to occur, would I then read the book? Eh, probably not, but more because of personal preference than for any reason to do with the book itself.

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