Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Review: "Red Moon" by Benjamin Percy

Books like Benjamin Percy’s epic werewolf novel Red Moon are always a pleasure to read, even when they are not perfect. That is especially true when they come from a writer as skilled as Percy, who seamlessly blends typical genre elements like graphic violence and suspense with intricate character development that makes you care intensely for these people in their horrible situations. But like the other two Percy books I’ve read, his short story collection Refresh, Refresh (whose title story is one of the best short stories I’ve read in the past few years) and his debut novel The Wilding, Percy can get a little bit too political for my tastes, with The Wilding being a plea for environmental awareness through a Deliverance-like story, and here it is a look at racism and the Occupy movement through the lens of lycanthropy. Don’t get me wrong, it is still an interesting story, with a few unexpected turns in narrative and interpretation, but these notions can get in the way of the stories enjoyment. Percy intertwines three story threads that eventually collide in a weirdly rendered present where werewolves not only exist out in the open, but are a public health crisis with their own rogue cells and even their own colony near Russia. We first meet Patrick Gamble, a young man flying to visit his mother, when his plane is attacked by a rogue wolf and he is the only survivor, leaving him with violently mixed feelings about werewolves as the story progresses. Claire Forrester’s parents are slaughtered by a swat team, and she slowly learns, through her tough aunt Miriam who she really is. And Chase Williams, a presidential hopeful until he is bitten by a wolf, becomes a pawn for something bigger. This book is always exciting, with many actions scenes that take your breath away, and might even make you lose your lunch. But it can be hard to follow at points as Percy reaches his maximum density, but the effects of this book last for a long time, which play to its strengths as an epic, and Percy’s ability to blend genres. If you can get past this book’s somewhat heavy-handed agenda and need for relevance, it’s quite a doozy.
Rating: 4/5

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