Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Wolf Blood: The Werewolf Apocalypse Begins (Lycanthropic #1) by Steve Morris

The apocalypse is beginning

Werewolves have come to London, and subtly put their plans in motion. Their actions lost and mistaken for a rampant increase in serial killing and a new deadly plague taxing the resources of the city.

As people react to the growing panic, the growing demand on emergency services - very few people guess the truth and several people find themselves on the front line of the upcoming war.

This book is a dystopian development story, as we begin the eve of an apocalypse - this time with werewolves rather than the more traditional zombies.

Which is a grossly simplistic way to sum up this book. Like many of the good dystopians, this is less about the specific creatures in question or even their evil so much as it is a study of how society and people react to the slow collapse

Here we see a lot of insights into growing fear, panic, vigilantism and prejudice as immigrant groups in particular are scapegoated as is all too often common

One of the more unusual elements of this book is the very large number of characters, most of whom aren’t connected to each other in any real way (unless you count “living in London” which is a pretty nebulous definition of connection given the size of this city) but each of which have very different experiences, opinions and viewpoints to the creeping disaster caused by the explosion of werewolf numbers

This also includes a number of werewolf characters or characters who become werewolves, adding a level of nuance to the big dangerous threat far more so than you’d get from, say, zombies

It is interesting to see such a wide range of characters each adapting to the horrors of the growing werewolf encroachment, each of them reacting differently. My favourite and chosen protagonist is Liz the policewoman who is determined to hold this together, despite her criminally inclined father encroaching on her life and her sudden adoption of a Romanian child. I like her and I’d love to follow her story above all. There’s the reclusive agoraphobic woman, the father with Alzheimer's she cares for and her sister - who uses sex to steal from wealthy man while loving the thrill and risk of the whole thing (she’s also a character I’d kind of love to see despite not loving her storyline so far). The Sikh boy who forms an unlikely alliance with the boy bullying him as well as trying to protect his sister along with upholding and thinking on Sikh values (perhaps a little much for a young teen). The deeply religious Catholic gay teenager facing a desperate moral and ethical battle over his sinfulness of being gay and a murdering cannibal (and these being put kind of together is not… ideal, even if the storyline and his relationship to a gay Black werewolf contains more levels than this). A computer nerd who becomes an obsessive survivalist as he’s the only one who sees the way it’s going. A biker gang. A woman who may be a sociopath and her university professor. A Carribean nurse full of amazing compassion…

This means this book has a lot of diversity and representation, especially since nearly all of these characters have storylines of their own, which I definitely applaud. Especially since so many of these characters are so very compelling and with very interesting storylines

My issue with this book is it’s really really really long. Or it feels really really long. I’m not sure if it’s a bad issue, exactly, because none of this book is bad or boring or a problem. But, I’m reminded very much of early seasons of The Strain or Fear the Walking Dead - where you know where the story is going, you know we’re heading to the werewolf dystopia. Everything screams that dystopia is coming and by half way through the book I was kind of ready for the preamble to be over and for us to move on.

And on all those characters? Again. It’s long. It’s long - or feels long - because the dystopia doesn’t develop slowly but because we’re seeing each day through many many many lenses which does slow it down.

And, again, I’m torn here. I can’t say I want rid of any of these lenses. I liked these lenses a lot. I can’t point to any and say “hey, we don’t need this” (or, rather, I can say that we don’t NEED any of them - only some of them) or “I don’t want this” because I pretty much did (except maybe the biker gang). So I have a weird conflict between both loving what is here, but also wishing it moved faster but not knowing how to do it without losing something I really valued.

Despite all these many point of views… I’m still not sure I buy it. Yes, these people are spreading werewolfness unbenownst to the general public and running amok on a night - but I find it unlikely that as little epidemiology happened with the “survivors” of werewolf bites as did - or that far far more werewolves running amok in the night weren’t killed by modern weaponry. We’re told how werewolves are multiplying and we see more and more werewolves appear and the stories of those werewolves. But it all seems to hinge on the authorities being… rather blase and absent? I mean this is a plague, a serial killer and werewolves charging around London and this is the extent of the response? This isn’t some city in the north. Leeds could fall into a volcano and it’s unlikely anyone in government would notice *waves bitter northerner flag*.

I do like this book and wonder where it will go from here - especially the shades coming in from werewolf attitudes (some of these werewolves, I simply cannot see being all gung ho for genocide or taking over the world etc) which is going to add new layers of complexity for future books, raising the potential of resistances, werewolf factions and Liz being supremely awesome. All of these characters have wonderful potential for the future now the world is definitely moving towards the dystopia and as some of these characters are beginning to team up. I am intrigued. I am hooked. I am interested. I am intrigued. But I also want the excellent character stories to be backed with some movement in the world as well.