Thursday, August 16, 2012

Review: Hemlock

HEMLOCK (Hemlock #1)
Kathleen Peacock
Paranormal Young Adult
416 pages
Katherine Tegen Books
Available Now
Gifted from Bailey at IB Book Blogging

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Mackenzie and Amy were best friends.

Since then, Mac's life has been turned upside down. She is being haunted by Amy in her dreams, and an extremist group called the Trackers has come to Mac's hometown of Hemlock to hunt down Amy's killer:

A white werewolf.

Lupine syndrome--also known as the werewolf virus--is on the rise across the country. Many of the infected try to hide their symptoms, but bloodlust is not easy to control.

Wanting desperately to put an end to her nightmares, Mac decides to investigate Amy's murder herself. She discovers secrets lurking in the shadows of Hemlock, secrets about Amy's boy-friend, Jason, her good pal Kyle, and especially her late best friend. Mac is thrown into a maelstrom of violence and betrayal that puts her life at risk.

Kathleen Peacock's thrilling novel is the first in the Hemlock trilogy, a spell-binding urban fantasy series filled with provocative questions about prejudice, trust, lies, and love.


MY THOUGHTS
Hemlock is a story that despite being paranormal in nature doesn’t in fact feel all that paranormal at all, giving us a world fairly similar to our own filled with characters so gloriously easy to both love and hate that we quickly find ourselves riveted, our need to know every minute detail of the werewolf mythology fading into the recesses of our minds as we simply sink into the story and enjoy every moment. Many times with the first book in a supernatural series, the desire to have the world and what makes it different from the reality in which we live fully explained to us is a substantial one, and we often feel a disconnect when our questions go unanswered to leave our minds floundering as we ineffectively try to fill in the blanks that have been left for us. With Hemlock, even though the history of the Lupine syndrome is only touched upon briefly, we never feel as though key details are missing, and the characters’ easy acceptance of werewolf existence facilitates our ability to simply believe without constantly questioning every supernatural aspect.

Those infected with Lupine syndrome in Ms. Peacock’s world are incredibly intriguing, the fact that they are both predator as well as prey toying with our emotions as we marvel at their strength, speed, and ability to kill while at the same time despair of the fact that they’re being singled out and persecuted for being different. All of the characters are stunningly dichotomous, those with only a single physical human form possessing a second skin they pull on to aid them in their duplicity, their lies and secrets turning them into two distinct individuals just as the wolves they so despise exist in two separate forms. With the exception of Mac, every character has something small or large they keep locked away from us as readers–some part of themselves they wish to keep hidden– and we have the pleasure of trying to wade through all the different disguises each wears, whether human or animal, to try and find the true face underneath.

Early on in the story it seems as though we’re going to find Mac as the tip and focal point of a love triangle that includes best friends Kyle and Jason, and though that does happen to some degree, Mac makes a clear decision in this first installment and doesn’t waver once she understands the depth of the feelings she’s been denying for years, and for that alone we want to reach in and hug her. The fact that she’s embroiled in a teenage love triangle, however briefly, is acknowledged and even mocked a bit by Mac and the others, and we can’t help but smile ruefully at Mac’s ability to be self-deprecating despite the gravity of her circumstances. While the triangle may become more pronounced in future installments, Ms. Peacock handles it beautifully in this first book, creating a great deal of tension between all three even though Mac really only has true romantic feelings for one in particular.

The only minor drawback to Hemlock is Mac, Jason, and Kyle’s ability to let their guilt over Amy’s death get the better of them repeatedly, often weighing themselves down with questions as the words “if only” run through their minds on continuous loops. In addition to continually painting themselves with guilty conscious-laden brushes, they also frequently fling blame at one another, deliberately making snide and hurtful comments in a fit of pique and self-loathing they know will leave a scar no matter how much they don't actually mean what is said, and while we can understand their need to express their hurt verbally, it does get a bit tedious after a while. That small flaw aside however, Hemlock is an action-packed story from beginning to end, layers of complex darkness revealed bit by bit as we get to know our friends, enemies, and everything in between better.


Rating:  4/5

47 comments:

  1. I was surprised at how much I liked this book. The whole were wolf thing was cool and I loved the mystery of it all.
    I don't remember being annoyed with their guilt and "if only" but maybe I just forgot since its been awhile.
    Glad you enjoyed it!

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    1. I was fine with the guilt for a while, it made absolute sense, but when they kept using it to hurt one another I got a little tired of it. Still, loved it overall:)

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  2. I am interested to read a new twist on werewolves. Also happy to hear that the love triangle doesn't come to fruition and that they make a mockery of it! That is nice!

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    1. YES! Loved the way this love triangle progressed because, in my mind, there was never a question of who she was going to be with:)

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  3. This one looks good.I think I can overlook the minor flaw you pointed out :)
    Nice review as always jenny


    Krazyyme @ Young Readers

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    1. It was definitely a minor flaw, some people might not even notice it at all. I was being picky:)

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  4. I've heard really good things about this one. I must admit that werewolves aren't really my favourite type of supernatural creature to read about, but I'll have to give this one a go!

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    1. Yes, please do! I really liked the werewolf mythology in this one and can't wait to learn more:)

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  5. I'm glad the love triangle wasn't infuriating as the usual ones that we find in YA books these days, and despite some of the issues you had, this was a relatively enjoyable read. A lot of readers have said this isn't like your typical paranormal read, which I'm so pleased to hear! I can't wait to pick this up seeing as you enjoyed it so much! Lovely review Jenny! :)

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    1. I thought it was fabulous! And it felt different despite focusing on werewolves, and I think that's a huge accomplishment for the author:) Can't wait for book 2!

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  6. I'm really glad that you enjoyed this book, Jenny! :)
    It was a book that really took me by surprise. I loved it too.
    I agree about the love triangle. This is one book where the love triangle didn't bother me at all. I think the author dealt with it in a really good way. :)
    I also agree about the guilt they felt due to Amy's death. It was overwhelming at times, but I still enjoyed the book.
    Lovely review, Jenny! :)

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    1. Same Nick! I initially cringed when a love triangle started to form, but then it never came to bother me. I don't know if she'll play it up more in the next book, but I was pleased with it in this book!

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  7. Really glad you enjoyed this, Jenny! Although I haven't pick up this book yet, it's always fun to see another person enjoy a book :D

    I'm intrigued by the best friends ploy. Personally, I love reading about childhood friends turning into lovers because these are the ones that feel natural.

    Thank you for the lovely review, Jenny XD

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    1. ME TOO!!!! The best friends to romantic relationship element is one of my absolute favorites.

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  8. I'm glad you mentioned the love triangle. I was worried about that aspect but it sounds like it is handled well here. I do hope it doesn't become more pronounced as the series goes on though. ;) I still need to read this and I am definitely looking forward to it! Lovely review, Jenny!

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    1. I share in that hope, but I feel like even if the other player gains ground with Mac's affections, it will still end up being the first guy:)

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  9. I love books that allow me to put away my information whore and just experience the book for what it's worth. A love triangle, though, even mocked at, makes me pause. (As does the fact one of the love interests has the same name as the boyfriend. My poor little brain can't wrap itself around that.)

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    1. Don't fear this love triangle, at least in this first book:) And obviously you would be rooting for the one with boyfriend's name!

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  10. Amazing review Jenny!!!!! I'm glad the love triangle in this book was done really well, that Mac even laughed at it. I need to read this book sometime to see each character's little secret side.
    :0

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    1. Thanks Rachel! I hope you get a chance to pick it up soon, I really enjoyed it:)

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  11. YAY Jenny! Hemlock is one of the best written werewolves stories out there! I loved the world building and the idea of where the author is headed. Awesome review!!!

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    1. I was super impressed with this one, and I need more from Kathleen immediately:)

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  12. I'm so glad you liked this one, Jenny! Unfortunately, I wasn't a huge fan of this novel and the love triangle really got on my nerves, especially since we can see that the next novel is going to be Jason and Mac's romance, but I did love the mystery elements of this tale. Wonderful review!(:

    ~Keertana
    Ivy Book Bindings

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    1. I feared the next book was going to intensify the love triangle, so we'll see how that one goes over with me:)

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  13. Yay! I want to join in on the Mac group hug!! I'm happy to know she makes a clear decision. And I have to admit you have me super curious about how this world is put together, without much explanation, but still very believable. One of the things I admire the most about writers is their ability to make the reader believe.

    Congrats on winning a book that is a winner. LOL And thanks for another stunning review.

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    1. I definitely had some questions about the world, but I wasn't dying for the answers you know? I was able to enjoy the story with what she provided in this first book:)

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  14. *raises hand in the air in defeat* so, you love this werewolf story too??? Now... how can I refuse to read it? I've read awesome review after review from people raving about this book.
    Now, you come along my friend and now, I need to read it!!!

    I like the way you describe the Love Triangle, it does seem to be right and nicely played and .. not dragged out! I like this.. Plus. I think I want to meet Mac!

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    1. Okay, I replied to you but for whatever reason my blog ate it. Awesome. I did really enjoy this one, I think you will too. You need to go buy it asap and then let me know what you think!

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  15. Ok Ill admit it, I was totally going to blow this one off, there are so many YAs out right now Im having to pass up plenty....but your review sold me, must meet this Mac and soon...:)

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    1. YAY! I really hope you like it:) I loved Mac.

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  16. Oh Mac sounds like a character I'd really like. I can also see why the guilt would be bothersome after a bit. It sounds like it drags down the story too much. Still this is the book I wanted to read and now want to read it even more! See what you do to me, Jenny? *sniff*

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    1. You. Are. Welcome. I regret nothing:)

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  17. Sounds good, still, the cover does not give me the same feeling as I get from reading your review

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  18. Awesome, the werewolf mythology in this one definitely does sound different and interesting! I also really love that every character has an interesting secret that you get to discover along the way - Cassandra Clare also did that very well in Clockwork Angel, I thought. And hugs to Mac! I really want to try to find time to read this one now.

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  19. I liked this story but didn't love it. I think the love triangle reduced my enjoyment a bit, though I did like the mythology since it's different than many I've read.

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  20. Ugh, I still need to read this one. Not only does your review make it sound really good *sobs that her reviews her never as beautifully written* - and I love that each of the characters has some sort of secret - but it's also by a Canadian author!

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  21. I love the sound of this one! I'm not a fan of love triangles but it sounds like the duality present in the plot lines and the characters themselves would appeal to me a lot.

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  22. SO, I totally had NO intension of reading this book what so ever, but man, Jenny, your review! It makes me want to get this book NOW! Great review and I'm happy you liked it!

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  23. I'm not really into love triangles so it's good to know that it's short-lived in Hemlock. I'm also glad that this is the type of paranormal that doesn't feel like paranormal at all. I actually don't know what that is, but that surely piqued my interest. Nice to know you liked it and I understand why you find the redundancy of the expression of guilt to be tedious. Heck, just reading your review about it makes me annoyed already. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jenny!

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  24. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE JENNY!! I absolutely love Hemlock too! When I started reading it, I was really immersed in the story and I liked how the werewolves in Hemlock was very close to the original myth. And yes, I agree that Kathleen handles the love triangle really well and it's beautifully crafted! I was really intrigued by Jason at first although I guess I can say I'm Team Kyle since the beginning ;) I love the mystery revolving around Amy too and Mac is such a great heroine! Really can't wait for the sequel :)

    Awesome review, Jenny! ♥ SO glad you enjoyed it!

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  25. Oohhh I'm SO glad you enjoyed this Jenny!!! I read the first few pages, but it didn't grab my attention; mostly because of the fact that all the characters were guilt-ridden and...that was really cliched. I get really annoyed when characters let the guilt weigh them down - sometimes it just seems overdone. Anyway, I'm so thrilled the "love triangle" isn't like the usual, cliched ones! Fantastic review Jenny!

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  26. The guilt over death--I imagine their ages played a part in that. Though from a reading stand point repetitiveness of emotions can be distracting. It does sound like overall you really liked this :)

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  27. I liked this one but I wish we got to know the characters before Amy's death. I would have liked to see how close these friends were. I also really liked Kyle from the start. :D

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  28. I can't wait to pick this up, Jenny. I've seen this around and have been very interested but now I'm sold after reading your review. I'm glad to hear the love triangle is handled well. Wonderful review Jenny. :)

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  29. Glad you liked it! I keep hearing good things about Hemlock, and the author is Canadian, so I definitely want to pick it up sometime. =)

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  30. I loved Hemlock! It caught me entirely by surprise because I hadn't really paid much attention to it and, to be honest, there has been a slew of not-so-awesome teen werewolf stories. But I liked the way that werewolves were already "out" and it makes sense that there would be a lot of suspicion and prejudice about them. I confess, though, Kyle didn't do much for me. I'm hoping that Jason reforms.

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  31. I finished this a few days ago and absolutely ADORED it! I love how the world felt similar to our own and I didn't feel any need to question the virus either. I was torn between my feelings for the werewolves: I felt sorry for them since they were continually persecuted but on the other hand, they could be merciless murderers. The love triangle was pretty subtle but I'm glad Mac knew who she wanted to be with in the end - I'm looking forward to see how it all works out in future instalments! The guilt they all carried was frustrating at times but I barely noticed it because I loved everything about the book!

    Another amazingly beautiful review, Jenny <3

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