Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"Unleashed" by Kristopher Reisz

“Unleashed” by Kristopher Reisz
352 pages
Simon Pulse (February 19, 2008)

As a debut post to my specialized in reviewing blog, I am going to report my impressions from “Unleashed” by Kristopher Reisz. But first I want to brag that this is a personal copy sent straight from the author himself, the very first I have ever received without winning a giveaway. So I don’t feel like a virgin in that area anymore and after the squealing was ticked on my to-do-list I set out to read it.

I was a bit skeptical with whether I am truly going to enjoy it or not since the paranormal limelight favored werewolves, which are in my book least favorable. As a reader and writer my accent falls on magic and mental power, whereas the werewolves are thoroughly physical and carnal. TV movies showing unintelligent half human, half wolf monstrosities didn’t help either to build a better view. Even when I researched shamanism and learned that werewolves change into whole wolves and don’t rely on the moon and had a deeper spiritual symbolism I wasn’t very keen. But I read this book and everything has changed for the better. People don’t joke around, when they say that written words have power.

Being a teen and the book being young adult with characters my age I think it was a match made in library heaven. The story is told by multiple points of view, but follows mainly Daniel, who is the shooting star in his high school in Birmingham and has the perfect life. He is the most popular, most athletic and has one a place in Cornwell, an Ivy League college. However on his path to fit the part of the perfect pupil with brightest future, Daniel has lost his own path and his identity.

Watching Misty, one of the werewolves and outsiders in Daniel’s school, rescuing a run over dog by leaving class is the trigger event that snips Daniel from the glamour cliques of high school and sets him on his way to self-discovery. Misty and Daniel grow fonder to each other until they become a couple and together with Misty’s pack, consisting of her brother Mark and her friends Val and Eric, roam the city as werewolves. However as wolves the pack loses all ties to humanity and while Daniel is isolated by the pack for hiding his admission to Cornel, he tries to restore his friends back to humanity. The climax comes at a post graduation party, where former friends stand against each other in a suspenseful and also very poetic ending.

It’s interesting to note how the actual transformation from humans to werewolves occurs, since I am not aware of anyone else to have done it the same way. The pack needs a catalyst to allow their shape to shift and in this book the part is taken by the Amarita mushroom usually known as a hallucination inducing drug. With it and the mention of weed Kristopher draws an interesting aspect about a twenty first century teenager and the use of mild drugs. Apart from the usual symbolism these details add depth to the characters and the reality of the book.

Kristopher does a very interesting job with the school’s outcasts building up their back ground, giving them different and yet interconnecting personalities, making them carriers of some kind of message for the reader. Daniel is the shooting star, who is forgotten by the school once he disobeys the popularity order and he shows how ephemeral and treacherous fame is. Misty is a gentle dreamer encased in a tough shell to crack and she is an example what happens, when a person has been held in the steel vice of life for too long.

I admire what mister Reisz has done with the werewolf aspect of the story. As a reader of his blog I have learned why he chose werewolves, because they seem most real from the most paranormal creatures existing. Every human being holds a primal side to his character that transforms him in an animal metaphorically speaking, even though there is proof that in the middle ages people were blamed for werewolves exactly because of their more primal behavior. In shamanism the wolf is a spiritual animal that stands for reinvention and finding one’s way and one’s self through life. Kristopher does an amazing job combining both. The new found pack is on the brink to lose their link to humanity, but once they save themselves they emerge wiser, more confident in their own skin and more knowing of who they are. Basically what happens to all teens once, but without the werewolf aspect.

In conclusion I can only add that “Unleashed” offers a lot to think about to its readers presented in a very dynamic and emotion filled story, where one bad decision leads to others and so on until the end changes your whole world.


SQT said...

Very nice site.

Good review too. I'm always amazed at how well teen fiction works for adult readers. It's a fine line to walk and these authors never cease to amaze me. Plus, werewolf fiction is always a bonus.

daydream said...

Thank you, It's same thing with children literature. It took me ages to discover how cool Grimm's fairy tales are, mainly after reading the gory originals. YA is a genre meant for people with insight, I salute them for that. Of course beasties are always fun to have around.

Dark Wolf said...

Very nice blog. I wih you happy blogging with this one too.

daydream said...

Thank you Mihai! I am hoping that this one gets recognition in time.

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