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Assigned to this novel through its promotion and critical reviews, I keep stumbling upon the term “literary”. I guess this is supposed to mean a burnished writing style along with symbolic or allusional import to add insight and weight to the events portrayed or characters met. Well, as far as sending a message or making points outside of the plotting that enlighten the reader, this novel's intentive moments are more akin to mooning passing cars on the freeway. I mean, come on, you set up an alternative reality where, reminiscent of the currently-popular True Blood TV series, werewolves, or, as they are called here, Lycans—derived from the term lycanthropy, or just assumed from the currently-popular movie series, Underworld(a)—are existing out in the open among humans. And, just like that bottle of synthetic blood on Sookie's shelf, there's a Vioxx-like mystery gulp elixir to keep the beast out of the body of those infected. For this “disease” is not a virus or a germ, but a prion that stimulates the hypothalamus for an Incredible Hulk –like reaction.

Now, there is a concept in Art called “appearance-vs.-reality” that is used aplenty by so-called literary authors, and Red Moon enlists this device of disguise so thoroughly that “anybody can be a Lycan”(b)(p.434) at any point. And then there's the “star-crossed lovers” similitude for the main emotional connection in this story. Notice I said connection not engagement, but still, it carries literary recognition, doesn't it? There's also the Karate Kid -like mentoring among the females, but that's a cheap shot.(1)

--Cranach the Elder, circa 1512

I guess the most disappointing thing about this book is that it takes the fun out of being a werewolf. Not a lot of chewing goes on, especially disheartening since these woofers are not reliant on the full moon to howl. Transformation scenes are surprisingly scarce, and, when written, are frustrating in their inability to bring the beast to life. My inner mind never really visualized them. Astonishing, since most mainstream critics when falling on their praise swords for author Percy's skill with action and/or battle scenes—which, I agree, BTW—especially because those aren't the usual accolades sticky-noted on “literary” works. But then, the most striking—and treasonable—thing about Red Moon ing is that it is not a horror novel at all. This is a Thriller—similar to the film version of World War Z, which is not Science Fiction,

really—and, even more disconcerting, seemingly based on the formulaic blueprints associated with Best Sellers and/or Espionage tales. You can't fly airplanes into buildings without summoning up 911, nor can you substitute current history with Lycans for any interloper, whether they be al-Qaida, blacks, immigrants, the Taliban, hippie protesters, Native Americans, or the President of the United States. It just sniffs out this author's baddog doogie when it comes to fantasy world building. But if you don't agree with me, just replace spies or terrorists for werewolves and see if it doesn't chafe your fur with a little GENRE SPLICING. And, if you're serious about “literary” trappings among Fantasist shapeshifting Literature, try last year's The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan. Or, turn to the work that set the bar: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from 1886.

It's a page-turner, no doubt, although I had most of these objections by page 26. But, however reluctantly, I give it kudos as a Beach Book. It's big and bloated to waste the time—500+ pages, it's a tome, adding “literary” merit—with a number of overly-long discursions.(2) There's also those wonderful 3-5 page moments of cruelty and suspense with characters/situations never heard from again; poor farmer Walt (p.60), sniff, sniff. But some of Author Percy's descriptive scenes are quite riveting(3), just as his deus ex machina plotting is groan-inducing. I mean, how come the lights go out just as Claire stabs Puck to conveniently initiate an escape, or, why does Balor headquarter in a building easily hit by airstrikes?

But, who can fault verbosity when there's insights like:

 

She does not understand people . . . for their capability and appetite for violence. No other organism besides a virus seems so hungry to savage everything in its way. Violence defines humanity and determines headlines and elections and border, the whole world boiled down to who hits whom harder.

—p.390

 

Well, I guess I can, with:

 

Violence is as American as apple pie.

—H. Rap Brown, “Black Power” leader, chairman of SNCC, and Minister of Justice for the Black Panther Party during the radicalization of the 1960s.

 

But then, others disagree. Here's opinion from one of my favorite review sites here, plus an interview with the author .

 

a) Which was probably lifted it from some other writer, since Lycan is obviously shorthand for the early Greek badge of Lycanthrope. An interesting history can be found on Wiki—( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lycanthropy#Early_Modern_history )—dating back to the 1500s in the English language, but early as 2 nd Century BC in Greek mythology from notables like Herodotus and Pausanias. Lycaon was an early scoffer of the godhead, prompting Zeus to turn him into a wolf, the most popular version related by Ovid in his Metamorphses , written about the time of Jesus' birth.

b) Kinda like Cylons in Battlestar Galatica (2004-09), ya think?

1) Whatever happens to Miriam, BTW? And, what's with Balor? Jus' showing up, I mean, out of the ether.

2) ”Hunger rolls over inside him. He orders a breakfast sandwich . . . When his number is called, when he collects the bag, he rips it open and can barely find his breath as he shoves the sandwich in his mouth and gnaws it down. Then he licks the grease off the wrapper before crumpling it up to toss in the garbage. He suckles his fingertips. He wipes his hand along his thigh” . . . etc.

3) example the battle scene in the Republic —

 

© copyright 08/14/2013 by Larry Crawford

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