Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Review: Red Moon

Red Moon
Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Urban Fantasy
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Those who enjoy a very well-told story, political metaphors, werewolves, like to think about current events
Book Available: May 7, 2013 in hardcover and Kindle formats, Audio CD and Audible
Trigger Warnings: murder, sexual assault, rape, sexual slavery, hate crimes, terroristic acts, cannibalism
Animal Abuse: a minor character is reported to have stomped a puppy to death; hunting by human and lycan, including deer, goat, and possibly a cat (I will point out that I don't have a problem with hunting for meat, but I do have a problem with trophy hunting in which only the antlers are taken, and one event is trophy hunting); deer with locked antlers—one is shot, other left locked to dead deer and stuck

My Thoughts: Like The Last Werewolf (review linked here where formatting allowed), this book has absolutely beautiful writing about a really ugly situation. For example:
... he feels the darkness of the grave pressing around the fire and infecting his vision so that there seems to be no separation between the living and the dead, a child born with a mud wasp's nest for a heart and its eyes already pocketed with dust, ready to be clapped into a box and dropped down a hole.
Just beautiful writing! While very transparently a metaphor—for Muslims and the fear of Islamic terrorism, and racial segregation, and the sort of discrimination that those with AIDS have to deal with, for almost any sort of hot-button discrimination/segregation topic of which you can think—the lycans in this book are also a very distinct people, once segregated (as people of color once were) but now integrated—as long as certain conditions are met. Being drugged. Not transforming. Reporting their existence and being on a database... You see the idea forming. As one of the characters discovers, “Plagues don't just kill people—and that's what lobos is, a plague—they kill humanity.” In the end, that is mostly what this book is about. It is about how hatred causes people to split when they should work together, it is about how people let their fear take over rather than truly seeking a solution, rather than realizing that people are people and need to be taken at individual, face value.

This story is told from several different people's point of view. As a result, each section, each character, speaks and is written in a slightly different voice, which is a very impressive bit of storytelling. The most beautiful, poetic voice is Patrick's, interestingly. Chase is sort of crude and extremely self-involved. Claire is fairly matter-of-fact, but emotional. Miriam is a survivor, but also someone who notices things around her. It's really very well done and I was very impressed with the author's ability to so completely switch his style for each character.

The book is primarily in present tense, and as such could have been a real mess, but the author does a great job pulling it off. It's also gives the reader details from both sides of the issue, and the author also does a great job of providing a sympathetic view for both sides, which is very tricky with something that is as politically charged as this. There are times you feel disgust for the lycans, and there are times you feel disgust for the humans, and then you realize that it all has a pattern. In the end, there is good and bad on each side, and the majority of people simply want to be left along to go on with their lives. I think a lot of people will be frustrated over this lack of any particular person to hate or love, since so many instances of actions are ambiguous, or could be seen from different points of view. While it is the actions of the Resistance that cause the most horrible things, at the same time you can sort of see their point of view—they are, after all, being treated like second-class citizens based upon the fact that they have an illness that is not their fault. This doesn't excuse their actions in my mind—after all, there is never an excuse to kill innocent people to make a point—but it makes it more difficult to hate them. The actions of the government make me crazy, because it's the same old thing—desperately do something, even if that something will not make a lick of difference and will probably, in fact, only make things worse, like taking away protected status, forcing lycans into an open registry, and other things that will do nothing but tick off the law-abiding citizens that are now being scapegoated (sort of like the modern situation with gun control).

This is an ARC, an unproofed galley, so I hope someone will find this consistent mistake I noticed, which was “Constantine wire”. The term they were looking for was concertina wire. As nearly as I can tell, “Constantine” wire is a modern “invention” caused by misunderstanding and people trying to claim that no, it's a thing... but the thing it describes, in the short note on Wiki, is barbed wire, as opposed to razor wire, which is concertina wire, which is what the military uses. Also, the blurb is a bit misleading, as it makes it sound as though some external event, almost supernatural in nature (the so-called Red Moon) is what will cause people to go crazy, but in fact this is not the case.

In the end, this was an often very difficult book to read. Because it is so dense, because there are so many things going on, because it is so densely politically metaphorical, because there is no real hero or villain in the end, I imagine there will be a lot of people who find the book frustrating and difficult. That said, I think it is a very worthwhile topic, a very well-done piece of writing, and a very important story for people to read. My personal enjoyment was around three stars, but the writing and style is easily 5 stars, and that is how I will rate this one, because it is worth it. Check it out.

Disclosure: I received a paperback ARC/Galley from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: They live among us.

They are our neighbors, our mothers, our lovers.

They change.

When government agents kick down Claire Forrester's front door and murder her parents, Claire realizes just how different she is. Patrick Gamble was nothing special until the day he got on a plane and hours later stepped off it, the only passenger left alive, a hero. Chase Williams has sworn to protect the people of the United States from the menace in their midst, but he is becoming the very thing he has promised to destroy. So far, the threat has been controlled by laws and violence and drugs. But the night of the red moon is coming, when an unrecognizable world will emerge... and the battle for humanity will begin.

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