Still, it's what's between the covers that counts, right? This time, yes.
This is a story about some woofs and their follies. (I'm trying to diversify my parapseudo consumption to include all forms of freaky beings, but so far, it's woofs, vamps, faeries, and unclassified immortals. I guess that's the sexy stuff the kids go for.) Woof clans and their wacky mating rituals makes for an interesting backdrop to yet another story of a girl tortured by her longing for two boys.
- Believable teenagers. And they go through believable teenage problems. Yes, they're woofs and whatnot, but they have to deal with hormones, popularity, relationships, bucking tradition. None of the junk that I compare to Dawson's Creek, where the kids are smarter than any 15-year-old ever bred (except, I guess, Doogie Hauser).
- Conflict. There's nothing like a story of a character with tooth-grindingly difficult choices to make. The protag, Calla, has to choose between her heritage, her loins, her heart, and her freedom. I like that. I also like that the story has guaranteed that whichever choice she makes will piss someone off in a big way.
- Characters. I actually care for once. I don't know why. It's not like these characters are any different from the other parapseudo kids. There's a dynamic that moves their relationships along, though, and each relationship's dynamic is unique. Calla is a rebel, shirking everyone's expectations. Ren is a real surprise, different from the usual jerk who tempts the brainless girl toward her demise. Shay is a great distraction for both of them. The best part? They're all hornier than hell, and they're not afraid to go for it in the girls' bathroom!
- Socially relevant. There's racial, class, gender, sexuality, and institutional implications throughout, catapulting the story leagues above many of the other parapseudos I've so gladly buzzed through. The richie riches control the workers. The workers think they're doing their part for a tradition the richies have convinced them is symbiotic. There are closeted gays taken advantage of by other closeted gays. Alpha women bowing to alpha men. Outsiders being initiated by the powerful. It's fun!
- Evil undercurrent. Even when things seem to be going the right way, there's a darkness that lingers in the shadows. No, really. There are shadows that are evil. Wraiths, actually. You know. Evil shadows. Anyway, they're pretty scary--but could be a lot scarier. I want to see the wraiths in action. Don't close the door! I want to see why they're legendary. There are also scary succubi and incubi that emerge from the walls--sort of. And some of the leaders are just Satan.
- Woof stuff. When the characters are in their woof forms, they crave hot, bloody meat, so they take down deer and rip into them. Hahahaha! It's radical.
- Giant spider.
- Forced sequel purchase. It pretty much ends at the climax. Readius interruptus.
- Calla's mother. She's too fluffy to have raised such a strong young woman. She's all about lace and tradition. And she's scared of all the richie riches.
- No important deaths. There's a lot of possibility, but no one worthwhile dies. Not that I wanted Shay or Ren to bite it--but how about a beta woof or an important relationship?
- Too many secondary characters. They blend together until the very end--and even then, I don't really know who's who or who likes what or who is the higher ranking woof.
- Setting. I want more, as usual. When I teach creative writing, I encourage students to pay keen attention to setting, as it's often more important than secondary characters in indicating key changes in plot, characterization, and conflict. Okay. Enough of that. I just want to see, hear, smell, and touch every damn place--even a library! Actually, especially the library in this case because some serious emotional and physical damage takes place there.