Sunday, November 29, 2009

Book Review - Patricia Briggs' Moon Called

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
Published by: SFBC Science Fiction Book Club
Publication Date: 2006
Format: Hardcover, 710 Pages
Rating: ★★★
To Buy (different edition than one reviewed)

In the Tri-Cities in Washington State, a "walker"(derived from skin-walker) named Mercedes Thompson runs a garage specializing in fixing cars of German engineering. One day a lost and confused werewolf shows up at her shop and she takes pity on "Mac," despite her better inclinations for her own safety. But he brings a mess of trouble down on Mercy's head. Some government types show up and Mercy ends up killing an unknown werewolf, quite a feat for a little coyote. She realizes that she has to do what she was hoping to avoid, call in the local pack Alpha, her acrimonious neighbor, Adam Hauptman. Things go from bad to worse once the pack is involved. Mercy is woken up in the middle of the night by Mac's body being dumped on her doorstep. She realizes something must have gone horribly wrong at the pack meeting Adam was holding. She rushes over to his house where there are corpses littering his house and he's barely alive. Worst of all...his daughter, Jesse is missing.

Mercy is scared and she doesn't know who to trust...perhaps one of the pack has gone turncoat. Adam needs help, but more importantly, he needs an Alpha stronger than him to protect himself and others while he heals. So she turns to the only person she knows she can trust and can control Adam, even if they haven't spoken since she shot like a bat out of hell away from Aspen Creek, Montana, and her old pack, headed by Bran, the Marrock (leader) of all North American werewolves. But confronting Bran is the least of her problems. Samuel is there. The werewolf who she almost ran away with at 16. The man who was perhaps her true mate. The man she has avoided for so long. Thankfully they are able to help her and Adam heads on the road to recovery, and then on the road back to the Tri-Cities, with Samuel in tow. But while there Mercy realizes that perhaps the wolves being secret won't last much longer, Bran is pushing for a "revelation" like the Fae did 20 years is making it harder and harder to conceal their presence and they are now a commonly known secret to the government. But she can only deal with one hurdle at a time and luckily the small band of travelers trusts Mercy's inclination that something is wrong with the pack and they ask her who she would trust...Warren, the only gay werewolf she knows is their bet for safety. Now back in the Tri-Cities with a secret base of operations, Warren's duplex, they start their hunt for the weird government types and Jesse. But first they have to tangle with some other Fae, who lead them into the path of the Vampires, and finally they have to find the traitors, because not just a werewolf has betrayed them...and if they're lucky, at the end of the day all will be well and Jesse will be safe.

This book is the first in the popular Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. I picked this book up because it's likened to other authors I like, in particular Charlaine Harris. I can see the similarity and my attraction to the subject matter that made me pick up the Sookie books will definitely lead me to pick up the rest of the series of a strong supernaturally inclined independent, neigh, kick ass female lead. Mercy is a great character, she is a successful female working in a male dominated society, and werewolf society breaks the definition of how dominant a male society can be. She's quirky, funny and willing to do whatever she wants and whatever it takes to get where she's going or needs to be. I also like that she's all inclusive and not bigotted in anyway. The werewolves seem to be all "shifters for themselves" whereas Mercy has an ex-boss who's a gremlin and a good friend who is a vampire, and it doesn't matter to her if a werewolf is gay.

I felt this book was very uneven though. There were times I totally loved this book and couldn't put it down and other times when I just couldn't be bothered. The world creation that Briggs has given us is a nice unique spin on our world, similar enough to ours that we can relate, but different enough that it's fascinating and an interesting possibilty, but also different enough from other writers that it's unique. But the plot was occasionally cliche ridden, some working while others falling flat on their face. In particular I take issue with the girl always having two guys fighting over her, even if she previously thought she had no prospects. That's just too convenient and not really realistic. I know escapism is what people are after, but it's just too predictable to have the males fight for the ladies hand. But I did not have nearly as many issues with that as I had with the "child in danger" plot. If there is a child WHY MUST THEY ALWAYS BE ENDANGERED?!? The second Jesse showed up I was very intrigued by this nice little punky character that is surrounded by wolves and views Mercy as a kindred spirit, and then she's kidnapped! I'm actually more interested to see how Jesse develops as a character in later books because I find her so interesting and she was relegated to a plot point for the convenience of the author to get Adam to do her plots bidding. Stop doing this folks! Just because it's a cliche doesn't mean that your using it makes it fresh and new again!

Finally, one little niggling point, I had issues with Buffy being mentioned. I should really say, I love Buffy and I love that the vampire friend of Mercy, Stefan, loves Buffy, but I think in a world were fairies have been public knowledge since the 70s that a show like Buffy would be inherently different.
I love Stefan and his Scooby Doo and Buffy obsession, but the Buffy thing just struck me a little odd, I know it would still exist, but it would be more of a mainstream tv show cause it mimics reality to an extent in Briggs' world, then a cult hit. Maybe it's just too much a call out to the demographic that reads this type of book, but it grates on me.

Personally, despite all the little gripes I have, I'd recommend this to anyone who likes urban fantasy. It's a quick, fun read that anyone who likes a little bit of a kick ass lead and a little bit of a mystery will thoroughly enjoy. Basically if you like Buffy you'll like this...maybe the author was onto something there...


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