Young Adult / Fantasy Mash-up / Re-imagined Classic
I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars
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Deciding to leave his easy life in Santa Clara Valley, Buck Miller, the son of a wealthy judge and raisin farmer, pursues gold riches in the Klondike. Before he reaches his destination, Buck is kidnapped by vampires, turned into a werewolf, and forced to work as the vampire's sled dog. Now, in an unfamiliar place and in an unfamiliar body, Buck must learn to survive more than just the brutal weather. With attacks from vicious animals and abuse from his masters, will Buck be able to regain his humanity or will he spend the rest of his days living as a wolf?
Think of this book like the meme that's going around that says "type the last thing you did and then add 'because I'm Batman' behind it." It's Jack London's complete text of The Call of the Wild, but it's been appended. Very little of London's writing has been changed, but author Carl Waters has added enough that a paranormal spin has been placed on the story -- and it works.
For those who are unfamiliar with the original story, The Call of the Wild, you will be impressed by Jack London's sophisticated writing and the depth of the storytelling. Author Waters fairly seamlessly adds in his own wording and makes minor tweaks so that the story fits the new paranormal circumstances. The opening of the story is the only place Wild and Wild Werewolf are significantly different, but it was necessary to establish that the main character in Wild Werewolf starts out as a man (not a dog) and is transformed into a werewolf. The writing changes flow smoothly with London's, and readers will find it very interesting as they watch Buck's "retrogression" from a civilized gentleman into a beast living in a kill or be killed life.
I found this a SUPER creative re-imagination of the original story that answers a lot of "what if" questions: What if Buck wasn't a husky but a werewolf? What if John Thornton was Joan Thornton? What if the Frenchmen were actually vampires? These were great twists, with my favorite being what ultimately triggered Buck's transformation from wolf to wolfman, paving the way for him to become the legendary Ghost Wolf (not Ghost Dog, as in the original).
The only place I found the story lacking was in Buck's lack of homesickness for the life and the people left behind. It was initially explained away by a "fog" in his memory, but then later Buck remembers specifics from his life as a man, and he doesn't even have a pang of regret or longing. This didn't ring true to me, though I know Buck in London's version felt very little homesickness.
I recommend this book to young adults and older and to both people who have read and not read The Call of the Wild. It's just a fun mash-up and as long as readers understand that Waters isn't ripping-off Jack London's material (that's why he has London's name in the credits), it's a great tangent story. Be warned, the fights between the animals are pretty graphic, and the brutality of man against beast are not lightly glossed over. It's a brutal world in the original, and it's a brutal world in the mash-up.
Thank you to the author for providing me an eBook in exchange for my honest review -- the only kind I give.
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AUTHOR CARL WATERS
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