Paranormal Young Adult
Katherine Tegen Books
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 THOUGHTSHemlock 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.