The werewolf mythology is not new to the publishing world, but I admire the way Kathleen recreated the way we perceive werewolves. In her world, the Lupine Syndrome (LS) is what creates werewolves, after either being scratched or bitten by another werewolf. Nothing new there, but the mass panic and hysteria that ensues after everyone learns of the existence of LS is very original. It’s quite realistic the way the public in the book was quick to judge and more or less removed all human rights to those infected. Shipping them off to seclusion camps that apparently have horrible living conditions reminds me of the concentration camps of the second world war. Those with LS are always living with fear of being discovered, just like the Jews must have felt while they tried to live out their lives in hiding. Prejudice and animosity are very strong themes in this book and I applaud Kathleen for making it so realistic.
Mackenzie, or Mac, is the main character of HEMLOCK, and at the beginning of the novel, she was like any other teenager: scared about the werewolf murder spree that happened months ago and heartbroken about losing her best friend Amy to the killer. Even though Amy was murdered by a werewolf, she was not quick to judge and still believed not all werewolves were killers. She began to believed in equal rights, especially when she learnt that so many people surrounding her had been living with LS in secret. A strong female lead, Mac is not afraid to do what she believes is right, and fights for those she loves.
Branson Derby gave me the chills right from the start. His youth meetings and presence reminded me of cult leaders with their need to be followed and acknowledged. He controlled his followers by making them believe werewolves truly had no rights and that all of the infected were dangerous killers. He ruled his advocates through apprehension and brute strength and the fact that he was able to acquire the help of politicians and the local police made him a figure all werewolves feared. His goal to eradicate all werewolves made him a genocidal antagonist, and as a reader, it was very easy to both hate and fear him.
Kathleen Peacock created a wonderful alternate reality where everyone is aware of the werewolves and where Lupine Syndrome is feared as if it was a deadly disease. Not only is this book about prejudice and werewolves, it’s also about friendship, love, integrity and righteousness. Likable characters and delightful writing made this book a pleasant read. I trully believe this debut will be one of the YA novel to covet this spring/summer season. Young adults (especially members of Team Jacob) will love this book and will strongly anticipate the sequel. The ending promises another book full of intrigue and even more werewolves.