Thursday, September 19, 2013
Me on Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl
Author: Emily Pohl-Weary
Release Date: September 24, 2013
Publisher: Razorbill Canada (Penguin Canada imprint)
Eighteen-year-old rock star Sam Lee isn’t like other girls. She’s the super-talented bass player and songwriter for an all-girl indie band and an incurable loner. Then one night after a concert in Central Park, she’s attacked by a “wild dog.” Suddenly, this long-time vegetarian is craving meat, the bloodier, the better. Sam finds herself with an unbelievable secret and no one she trusts to share it. So begin the endless lies to cover up the hairy truth. When a new girl gang appears in the city, with claws and paws, Sam suspects there’s a connection to her own inner beast. Trapped in a tug-of-war between her animal and human selves, forced to choose between the guy who sparks her carnal appetite and the one who makes her feel like a normal teenage girl, Sam has to unravel the mysteries of the werewolf world before her bandmates, the media, and her mother catch up to her.
Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl is fast-paced, thrilling, and clever, a story all about Sam and her struggle to continue being an ordinary girl while craving copious amounts of meat. This is a quick and clever combining of genres, moments of contemporary mixed with the paranormal, with a narrator scrambling to keep her life as normal as possible under the trickiest and most impossible of circumstances.
Sam is a rock star who avoids the spotlight, a walking contradiction. Writing amazing songs and playing the bass like a musical genius gets her recognized and adored by fans of her band, but she's far more at home in the shadows, riding her bike through the park alone. After the attack in the park everyone is coming at her, her bandmates, her friends, the guy she's been crushing on, wanting to know what's happened. Or, in the case of one mysterious boy, wanting to help her through it.
Throughout the book, the moments where Sam catches a break and isn't racing around at near-breakneck speed is rare. She's still living her normal life, still playing bass with her bandmates, still avoiding the paparazzi, still being a teenage girl with a complicated crush, but she now has to deal with some strong wolfish instincts and a new craving for meat. Pohl-Weary keeps increasing the number of issues and secrets Sam has, increasing the amount of pressure she's under. Pressure to continue to write music and play bass, pressure to keep her werewolf side a secret, pressure to pick a guy out of the two she's attracted to. The chance of both sides coming together in a potential explosion increase over time, forcing Sam to stay on her toes.
Before the attack, Sam is a slightly fragile girl being forced into the spotlight, panicking over every tiny slip-up that someone might expose to the world. Afterwards, she fights to keep it hidden. No one can know what happened to her, what's still happening to her, and her fear over being exposed increases tenfold. As the book goes on, as Sam goes from concerned to panicked to frantic, it comes across so clearly in Pohl-Weary's writing. The pace of the book gets quicker and quicker and the tension grows higher and higher.
It seems that this is a book about a girl who wants to live an ordinary life while keeping so many things hidden. Some of those things aren't her fault, but she still has to work through them and keep on living. Her initial reaction is to avoid and lie, to keep it bottled up, but she doesn't necessarily cry foul and whine about it. She runs and lies in order to regroup and come at it on her own. She needs to handle all of it on her own because she has no idea who to trust. There are some spaces and openings that could hint at a potential second book, but whether or not there will be more of Sam, this was still an entertaining and exciting read.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Penguin Canada.)