Luke knows enough just enough about what his father does as a black ops infiltrator to know which questions not to ask. But when his dad goes missing, Luke realizes that life will always be different for him. Suddenly he must avoid the kidnappers looking to use him as leverage against his father, while at the same time evading the attention of the school's mysterious elite clique of Russian hipsters.

This YA novel is even more fun than the cover copy implies, throwing together werewolves, Indian legends, secret evil laboratories, martial arts, and – yes, really – a mysterious elite clique of Russian hipsters. And more. Much more. Despite its everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach, it’s a surprisingly coherent action-adventure with a big helping of comedy.

Given the title and cover, it’s no spoiler to say that Luke is a werewolf. Like Bruchac, the author, he’s also an Abenaki Indian. Between the Indian werewolves and a cool take on vampires, I suspect that Twilight was one of the inspirations for this novel. It’s not a parody, but there are a few winks in that direction. Luke, a bad-ass literature geek with a political bent and a mind crammed full of information, was reminiscent of a Cory Doctorow character, but with the saving grace of being much less smug. I liked him.

The mix of action, new riffs on old myths, and wisecracks would probably appeal a lot to Percy Jackson fans. It appealed a lot to me. There’s some over-explaining and messaginess, and while Meena, the girl Luke crushes on, is a likable character with her own issues, she is structurally just The Girl. And the denuement is a bit rushed. But overall, I liked it a lot. Many of you would probably like it too.

This is one of the debut titles of Tu Publishing, an imprint of Lee and Low and the only mainstream YA imprint I know of in America dedicated to publishing multicultural sf and fantasy. They’re off to a good start.

Wolf Mark

Meet Joseph Bruchac: poet, novelist, storyteller, musician, nuclear physicist, race car driver
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