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4 May 2014

John Vamvas and Olga Montes
John Vamvas and Olga Montes
Publication Date
26 April 2013
paranormal, YA, werewolves


Using a fun, explosive style, full of new slang and fresh dialogue, WHEREWOLVES is the story of a group of high school seniors, most “military brats”, who are headed for an army-type survival weekend. 
The underdogs, Jeffrey and Doris, do not want to go as they fear for their safety among the disdain and cruelty of the popular students. Sergeant Tim O’Sullivan, their teacher, as well as their dysfunctional parents pressure them into going, but it is an unforgivable act by their peers that propels the pair to go. Likewise, Elie, a student resented because of his Arab roots, is even more determined to prove himself this weekend. In the background, a news report cautions of a wanted couple with alleged super-human strength supposedly brought on by a new drug on the streets. 
In the woods, the students hike, hunt, camp, and soon act in unity as the forest brings them closer together. But does it? O’Sullivan leaves them alone for the night. The students bond, chant, tell campfire tales, and quickly lose their fears and inhibitions. HOO-AH! Though sexual tensions are high, it soon turns to violence and everything quickly turns sour. 
When the kids start disappearing one after the other, the remaining begin to unwittingly “act like the natives” carving spears, ready to face whatever is out there. What has gotten into them? 
Amid blood-curdling growls and gruesome deaths, the story’s underlying layers are revealed. We see how misconceptions, prejudice, greed, fear, and hatred bring out the worst and best in us

My review

The book starts off with a young woman running away from creatures, seeking refuge with a truck driver in his cab. And whatever is out there seems to be attacking his cab as well despite him driving fast.

We are than taken back about 2 days or so prior and are introduced to Doris, a High School Student and clearly an oddball, dresses differently and likes werewolves. She does not fit in with the rest of the 'popular crew' at school and gets bullied ruthlessly by the others. Only Jeffrey, a fellow student, gets bullied even more. In the first chapters, we get introduced to all 18 of the students who are preparing to go on a 'survival camp' weekend with their ex-military teacher, Tim O'Sullivan who wants to toughen them up. Once in the camp, strange things start to happen. First, all students seem to lose all their inhibitions, which for some of them really goes beyond their usual behaviour. But it is getting worse, and something is lurking out there. 

I did enjoy this fast-paced read. I understand it is written for a movie script, and I can absolutely see this as a movie. It is not just teen/slasher, but there is a deeper background. Without giving too much away, each of the 18 students has their individual story which gets revealed as you read along, and there are reasons why some of them behave in a certain way i.e. is there more to the bullying than meets the eye. My favourite character (though not one of the lead characters) is probably Dawn who is deeply traumatised by her parent's death which she witnessed and unable to speak since. None of the kids 'background stories' is giving in great detail and long explanations, but is interwoven, and this certainly brings the story along without stalling and without unnecessary padding. I did find the writing very refreshing. It does get a bit gory at the end, with torn body parts etc, but this is what we expect from a werewolf story really, don't we? 

I did had a bit of trouble at the beginning to extinguish between the different teens - there are 18 of them. I had to go back a few times so see 'so who was that again?' - obviously that won't be so much of an issue with a film version. Some of them are more distinguished than others, but the authors do 'show' rather than 'tell' their individualities i.e. Ronald whose nickname is Obama because he looks like the president, Elie who his disliked because 'his folks' are to blame for the US going to war (i.e. he is Muslim). It also becomes clear that they all live near a US Army base, so the life of most of them is in one way or another effected by being the children of Army personnel. And teacher O'Sullivan might have other motives as well rather than just being someone who wants adventure for their kids. 

While there are some sexual scenes, it is nothing explicit and I would think it can be read from 16+ definitely. 

Overall, an enjoyable read, and I'm looking forward to the movie version. I did like the ending and for me personally, even though there is a lot of blot and guts here in the final chapters, in a twisted way it is also a positive story about raising above bullying and overcoming personal problems. Yes, some might disagree that it is a rather drastic way of dealing but than, it is fiction, and it is suppose to make us think and challenge. 

Book received from the authors in return for an honest review. 

About the authors:  
(taken from Amazon:)

Together for over 20 years, John and Olga started as an acting team but soon began to write their own scripts for lack of finding two-person plays they could tour across North America. They wrote and toured four full-length critically acclaimed plays to packed houses across Canada and the United States, including, Bad Boy, which they performed Off-Off-Broadway at New York’s Creative Place Theatre in the heart of Times Square. In 2001, they were approached to star in and rewrite the short film, Things Never Said in Playa Perdida. Playa won the audience award at the New York Short Film Festival in 2002 and tied first place at the Festivalisimo festival in Montreal. WHEREWOLVES was written as a screenplay in 2010. The couple has written the novel to get the story out while they wait for it to hit the screens.