When I was a kid I was the guy who read Hardy Boys, Famous Five, etc. My first foray into adult fiction was, as I’ve said numerous times, Pet Sematary, but there wasn’t really anything supremely awesome that I knew of back then, nothing that really fired the imagination. There probably was, I’m sure, hell, there had to be, but obviously either my parents didn’t want me to read those books (Hehehe!) or the librarians had no idea what they were doing. In any case, my point is this – I think I had a pretty cool intro to reading, but the kids who will pick up Rise of the Wolf are in for an awesome, incredible ride!
I actually don’t even know where to begin with this review – I’m scared that I won’t be able to get my thoughts into order, not enough so that I can explain to you why this novel is so damn cool. But I’ll try anyway. 🙂
The first thing that gave me pause, and a smile, was the novel’s main character, Drew. He’s definitely not the average teen-who-gets-thrown-into-a-situation-he-can-barely-handle-and-learns-he-has-a-gift. Sure, Drew is sometimes stereotypical in what he does and says, but he’s the practical polar-opposite of any other character I’ve come across in YA fiction. In fact, he’s almost a momma’s boy! You’ll see what I mean when you read the book, but Drew totally succeeded in pulling me into the world that Curtis had created. As any character should do, he is sometimes whiny, sometimes irritating, sometimes funny and sometimes serious, but instead of these personality traits detracting from the story, I feel they enhanced the story. Fiction in any genre is, after all, about how we deal with and perceive the world and the people that fill it, and goodness knows that when a character is perfect I’m the first one to think, “WTF, Dude, nono, huh-uh.” So Drew was really cool. 🙂
What Curtis also manages to do, though, is to populate his world with a great many cool characters, and he also manages to make all of them memorable. As Drew travels through the world he comes into contact with many different classes of people, from different backgrounds and with wildly varying personalities, and each of them managed to stick in my brain. It’s difficult do give you any kind of description without spoiling some of what you’ll read, but suffice it to say that I was chuckling, frowning, wide-eyed and heart-sore while I read this book; the various emotional journeys that the characters go on really helped me to connect with practically all of them. 🙂
The star of the novel, though, which didn’t detract from the characters at all, mind you, was the world itself. Curtis approached the world in such a way that it was at once intriguing, awesome, and in some cases, frightening. My belief was suspended completely, to be honest. It was also apparent to me that there’s plenty more that Curtis has got in store for us, in terms of the history of his world. Indeed, even the events mentioned in the novel could probably make an awesome novels in their own right! There was a feeling of long-range storytelling to this novel which helped me sink deeper into it, and by the end, I was honestly on the edge of my seat – some adult fantasy writers out there can learn much from the pacing and tension that lead up to and include the novel’s climax. 🙂
I’m not going to say much about the rest of the world, or its nobles and people, because to do so would really spoil the book. I will say this, however – Drew being a werewolf (and that’s not a spoiler, by the way – it’s blindingly obvious by just looking at the cover) is just the tip of the iceberg. 🙂
The way Curtis told the story was also something I enjoyed – there were enough POV characters so that I got that well-rounded melding of ideas and beliefs, and the storytelling was top-notch, with some chapters ending on a cliffhanger and others flowing along at that speedy clip that kept me reading.
All in all, Curtis did an amazing job, and I can completely understand why Puffin is so impressed and excited for this novel, and indeed, for the series. The book isn’t perfect -no book can be- but even the stereotypes that Curtis employs worked for me – I could see them coming, but when they arrived, they’d been twisted and changed enough so that I was still reading, still turning the pages, and still immersed. I’ll even go so far as to say this – looking back on how the characters were handled, the events, the scope and breadth of the world and the sheer readability of the novel, Rise of the Wolf is, in my opinion, the Game of Thrones of YA Fantasy. (I can feel your eyebrows shooting up!) I know plenty of people may disagree with me, and that’s fine, everyone’s entitled to their own opinions, but that’s how I see this novel. It has emotional intensity, some really hectic and tense moments, a sprawling history and wonderful characters. 🙂 Get a kid to read this and he or she will very probably be hooked on reading for life. 🙂
I’m really and truly looking forward to the next novel – I’ll see if I can get a title out of Curtis sometime 😉 – and I can definitely recommend this novel highly; it’s imaginative, epic, emotionally gripping and utterly exciting!
9 / 10
Check out Curtis’ website here, and his blog here; for more info about Wereworld, check out this link to the press release, and to order your copies (it’ll be available from January and is coming to South Africa, too!), click here for Amazon UK.