These days, much of the popular paranormal fiction on YA shelves seems to be almost exclusively targeted at female audiences.
Teenage boys, however, can be thankful Catherine Jinks hasn’t forgotten them, following up her offbeat novel The Reformed Vampire Support Group (TRVSG) with another cool offering, The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group.
While the TRVSG was told from vampire Nina’s perspective, her latest novel is told through the eyes of 13-year-old Toby, who learns the hard way that his onset of hormones has also brought on the onset of latent lycanthropy.
Jinks turned vampire mythology on its head (her Sydney-based blood suckers are sickly and vulnerable, and not remotely interested in epic romances), and while she doesn’t take quite as many liberties with her werewolves, she still stays firmly grounded in realism.
Readers of TRVSG will be pleased to see the return of Rueben, the werewolf inadvertently rescued by the vampires (while they were timidly trying to track down a ‘slayer’).
It’s Rueben who tries to convince Toby he’s a werewolf (after the teenager is found dazed in a dingo pen after the last full moon). Not surprisingly, Toby thinks Rueben and his friends – the motely crew from TRVSG – are a bunch of weirdos, and it’s not until he’s kidnapped by men with more sinister motives that he begins to change his mind.
The story treads some familiar territory of TRVSG, but from a more masculine perspective (and, of course, is focused on werewolves, not vampires).
This time around the tone is darker and the story more violent (hard not to be when the plot centres on young werewolves being imprisoned and essentially turned into cage fighting pit bulls), but it’s never overdone, and there is still plenty of humour to stave off any real menace.
The pace is also faster this time around, with the action kicking in almost immediately, and then ramping up once Toby is kidnapped – and starts to realise Rueben wasn’t a complete nut job.
Again Jinks keeps her story unashamedly Australian, which for me was a big part of the book’s appeal.
And no, I’m not a teenage boy, but I still enjoyed it. I hope Jinks continues on with this group of characters, as there’s certainly plenty more she can do with them.