Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Unleashed by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguié

Title: Unleashed
Author: Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguié
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: November 22, 2011
Pages: 382 pages (hardback)
How I Got the Book: Amazon Vine-provided ARC

Unleashed (Wolf Springs Chronicles, #1)Katelyn McBride's life changed in an instant when her mother died. Uprooted from her California home, Katelyn was shipped to the middle of nowhere, Arkansas, to her only living relative, her grandfather. And now she has to start over in Wolf Springs, a tiny village in the Ozark Mountains.

Like any small town, Wolf Springs has secrets. But the secrets hidden here are more sinister than Katelyn could ever imagine. It's a town with a history that reaches back centuries, spans continents, and conceals terrifying truths.

And Katelyn McBride is about to change everything.

Broken families, ageless grudges, forced alliances, and love that blooms in the darkest night--welcome to Wolf Springs.


After an earthquake kills her mother, Katelyn McBride is sent to live with her grandfather Ed all the way out in Wolf Springs, Arkansas. The transition from LA to small-town America is a rough one, but other matters come to occupy her time. Two girls die from wolf attacks, there's a program just outside town to help people "release their inner wolves," and her new friend Cordelia is hiding something about her family. Then there are the two boys in her life: Justin, Cordelia's cousin and a hottie whose gaze sets her on fire, and Trick, the sweetheart she rides to school with. Katelyn may turn out to be what the people of Wolf Springs have been waiting for: the end to an ancient war.

Katelyn is a petty, judgmental brat. Would you not dislike a heroine who seriously expects to go to school in a small town to see students wearing overalls and cutoff denim shorts, chewing on straw, and driving tractors? I hate, hate, hate characters who are mean about small towns or small town life. Then you add in her saying another girl must be putting out to have a certain guy as her boyfriend and you have a character I would happily push over a cliff. At the very least, Katelyn admits she is too stupid to live, but this does not make her any more tolerable or likable. If anything, it shows that someone thought through how ridiculous she is and still did not change it.

Some personal bias comes in concerning the budding relationship between Katelyn and Justin. It's a long story, but the short version is that a good friend of mine and her boyfriend have a toxic relationship that has hurt her badly and her boyfriend claims to be a werewolf.  My dislike of him translates into a dislike of werewolves, but I didn't realize this until after I requested a copy of Unleashed, so bully for it.

There are multiple similarities between my friend and Katelyn and then the boyfriend and Justin, the most important being that the guys both had girlfriends when they met the girls and cheated on their girlfriends with the girls. Infidelity is a huge pet peeve of mine. Supporting Justin and Katelyn is already impossible because of their heavy resemblance to my friend's toxic relationship, but if not for that, it would still be impossible for me to support them because Justin is cheating on his girlfriend for Katelyn. No magical connection makes cheating okay.

Other than that, characterization is thin. Justin is a disgusting creep who always manages to seem like he's turned on, Trick is... well,  Trick doesn't get much characterization, and there are multiple characters who only exist to be around for a scene or two, tell Katelyn this important plot point at this point in time, and then get put on a bus by divorce or fading into obscurity. With all these infodump characters lying around, you think one could explain how an old man living out in the middle of the woods would know a high school guy like Trick and convince him to drive his granddaughter an hour back and forth each day for school.

The title of the novel, series name, and cover make it obvious what kind of book this is. The painfully predictable events of the novel make it even more obvious. Yet Katelyn does not figure out what's going on at any point--someone else has to tell her, and that doesn't happen until page 278 out of 382 in my copy.

There was exactly one scene in this book I liked, and that would be the earthquake scene at the very beginning of the book. The Fenner family dynamic with a father suffering from dementia and a mentally disabled little brother captures some of my interest too, but some is also lost due to the cliche characterization of the rest of the family. Otherwise, there isn't anything I liked and the novel is full of holes, like how a room full of werewolves--at least ten, up to thirty--with enhanced senses of smell managed not to smell Katelyn when she was close enough to hear them.

Writing this negative review isn't exactly fun when there's so little praise I can offer, but it has to be done. I'm not going to lie about liking something when I didn't--I'm a truthful reviewer. I only ever get so negative when there is something to be negative about. My advice is to skip this one, but make your own decisions on it.

1 star!

What am I reading next?: Dark Goddess by Sarwat Chadda