Review: Low Red Moon
Warning: This post is quite spoilery. I apologize, but it was the only way I could adequately convey my thoughts about this book. I respect your right to not read this review, but please don’t complain about spoilers if you do choose to continue reading.
The only thing Avery Hood can remember about the night her parents died is that she saw silver—deadly silver, moving inhumanly fast. As much as she wants to remember who killed them, she can’t, and there’s nothing left to do but try to piece her life back together. Then Avery meets the new boy in school—Ben, mysterious and beautiful, with whom she feels a connection like nothing she’s ever experienced. When Ben reveals he’s a werewolf, Avery still trusts him—at first. Then she sees that sometimes his eyes flash inhuman silver. And she learns that she’s not the only one who can’t remember the night her parents died. Part murder mystery, part grief narrative, and part heart-stopping, headlong romance, Low Red Moon is a must-read for teen paranormal fans. As breathless as Twilight and as spooky as Shiver, this is a book to be devoured in one sitting—by an acclaimed YA author making her paranormal debut under the pseudonym Ivy Devlin.—From Amazon
Low Red Moon is not an amazing novel by any literary standards. The prose feels rough and unpolished. There are far too many sentences left unfinished, too many thoughts and plot details dangling in thin air, presumably waiting for the reader to fill in the gaps. There was also a great deal of repetition; the lore of Woodlake’s wolves is explained over and over again in nearly identical terms each time. It was like I was being beaten over the head with the mythology to be sure that I got it.
Paranormal fiction is so common these days, it feels as though the author took for granted that people would accept certain components of the story as typical for the genre. For example, the “romance” between Ben and Avery did not strike me as believable or authentic. Tortured girl meets hot new boy in town—this is nothing original, but I don’t mind it if there are enough plot details supporting it to make it realistic. In this story, though, there is almost no buildup to the relationship; the characters meet each other and immediately fall in love. This may be the norm for the genre, but I hope not for real life. Ben and Avery supposedly have an instant connection and share the ability to feel each other’s emotions. They love each other, and yet, they share virtually no time together outside of the many instances in which Ben manages to save Avery from certain death.
Conversely, I loved the relationship that developed between Avery and her grandmother. Avery’s grief after her parents’ death is beautifully depicted; her sorrow feels tangible. The isolation she experiences when she first goes to live with Renee, who she hasn’t talked to or called Grandma since she was a young child, is also devastating. As Avery begins to realize that her grandmother did indeed love her family, even if Renee was disappointed in her son’s choices, the tension between them dissipates. They begin to bond as they build a new porch at Renee’s home and go out for dinners. Theirs is a trust that’s earned, not one that comes automatically. The slow connection that forms between these two characters is closer to what I would have liked to see occur romantically between Ben and Avery.
Despite its shortcomings, the book kept me hanging on every word. No matter how much I struggled with the writing or the believability, I couldn’t put it down. The mystery had me turning page after page wanting to know why Avery’s parents were murdered and who or what killed them. I did enjoy the ending, which deviated nicely from what would have been the predictable story arc. I can’t resist a small town drama, particularly when there’s a little environmentalism thrown in, and I have been fascinated by the paranormal since I was a little kid, devouring horror stories and watching endless hours of Are You Afraid of the Dark and So Weird.
The product description on Amazon compares Low Red Moon to Twilight and Shiver. I have not yet read Twilight—I hate to jump on the bandwagon, but I’m sure I’ll read it soon enough just to find out why everyone’s so crazy about it. From what I have heard, though, I think both this book and Twilight show that a novel doesn’t have to have much literary merit for it to be an enjoyable read. From what I can tell, the response to this book in the blogosphere has been entirely positive, making me wonder occasionally if I’m being overly critical. However, I have read Shiver, and I think Maggie Stiefvater’s book is in a whole different league. If you are interested in YA paranormal romances involving werewolves, I would definitely recommend Shiver. I think Stiefvater’s language is beautiful and captivating, the plot is gripping, and Sam is an incredibly crush-worthy male protagonist. Low Red Moon is a fun, quick read, but I didn’t find it to have as much to offer as Shiver.
Note: The featured cover is NOT the final cover. It is a picture of the uncorrected ARC. I hear the actual cover is breathtaking, but I have not yet seen it. I really liked this cover and a lot of the multi-colored images that appear throughout the ARC, but I’m not sure what will remain in the final version.