Mackenzie and Amy were best friends. Since then, Mac's life has been turned upside down. She is being haunted by Amy in her dreams, and an extremist group called the Trackers has come to Mac's hometown of Hemlock to hunt down Amy's killer: A white werewolf. Lupine syndrome—also known as the werewolf virus—is on the rise across the country. Many of the infected try to hide their symptoms, but bloodlust is not easy to control. Wanting desperately to put an end to her nightmares, Mac decides to investigate Amy's murder herself. She discovers secrets lurking in the shadows of Hemlock, secrets about Amy's boy-friend, Jason, her good pal Kyle, and especially her late best friend. Mac is thrown into a maelstrom of violence and betrayal that puts her life at risk. Kathleen Peacock's thrilling novel is the first in the Hemlock trilogy, a spell-binding urban fantasy series filled with provocative questions about prejudice, trust, lies, and love.
When the Trackers, a vigilante group dedicated to hunting down and shipping off anyone infected with lupine syndrome, comes to Hemlock with the intent to a) find even the harmless werewolfs and incarcerate them forever and b) recruit Jason to their ranks, Mac know she has to take action. But hunting down the wolf that killed Amy will uncover truths that could destroy everyone she loves.
There's a lot to love about HEMLOCK. Mac is an engaging narrative voice, the world building is solid, and (one of my favorite things about this book) the characters are all flawed, complex, and authentic. The stakes are high, and as the mystery unfolds, the lengths Mac will go to save those she loves kept me turning pages!
The only thing that kept this book from getting a five star rating from me is that I felt Mac wasn't quite fully developed as a character. We hear a tiny bit about her awful upbringing (a con artis/criminal of a father who constantly moved around), and we're told that's the reason Mac can handle herself and look for the wolf on her own, but we don't see examples of that upbringing. And we don't really see examples of Mac putting specific skills to use in her quest. I think a deeper look at Mac would've made this book resonate even more for me.
There is a love triangle, and I know there are readers who are tired of seeing that in YA, but I will say that it didn't bother me here. Partly because Mac isn't conflicted about whom she loves, and partly because the characters are damaged and flawed and it all just felt a bit desperate and therefore authentic.
The world stayed with me long after I closed the pages, and I honestly can't wait to get my hands on the next installment to see how Mac picks up the pieces in the aftermath of the secrets revealed in HEMLOCK. This is a solid addition to the paranormal YA genre, and one that rises above the pack in more ways than one. I recommend it.
Review: I am happy to say that I could not put this book down. First off, the cover is what pulled me in, very dark and alluring. Then I started reading and at first was very confused. Samantha is a fairly likable protagonist, but she was a little underdeveloped for my liking, thus 4.5 not 5 stars. Rowen wrote Sam's character in a way that thrusts us right into the story but doesn't really build her up until much later.
What I loved was the suspense and action. There was constantly something happening, and because the character development in the beginning was a little lacking in the beginning, this was possible. Right off we are with Sam as she has her life thrown upside down by Stephen's kiss and then immediately after that she meets Bishop and the others.
This was a very quick read because of the swift plot-line, I think it is a great alternative to many of the other angel books already written in the young-adult genre. It was a little more macabre and not as... angsty (not saying it wasn't angsty but lesser than most).
There were some things in the book that I wasn't completely sure whether I liked or not. The love triangle is one. But, this one is a bit different. Normally, the main character (a girl) can't decide between these two guys that she's never met before and she makes her decision (which isn't usually a decision) based off of a month of knowing both and which one she thinks looks better. But, Hemlock is different. The main character has actually known both guys (Jason and Kyle) for three years. Jason was always dating her best friend (until she was murdered), but had harbored a secret crush on the main character (Mac). Kyle has been in a previous relationship and hasn't been able to tell Mac how he really feels about her. But the real reason the love triangle didn't fail was because Mac actually picked. The main character actually makes a decision (before the eighth book in the series).
The plot was engaging and I really like the mystery aspect in the book. It was a refreshing tale in a different kind of world.
To Sum it All Up: Hemlock isn't my favorite book in the world. But, I did enjoy it, and I will continue reading the trilogy.
magnificent, and any other words that are like that. I was hesitant to try to get the book because of the description. It was sparse and it didn't really give me an idea of the book but, luckily, I decided to because well, because freakin' amazing! When I started reading the book it really caught my attention because you are in the middle of one of Mac's nightmares of her dead best friend. I was like Ohhhh....gotta read some more and soon I was ripping through the pages. The plot of the story was nice and fast-paced which I liked a lot since I hate slow books. Though I guess the span of the book is only maybe like 2 weeks at tops? But, it seemed like more because SO many events took place each day! I liked how the werewolves were actually real in my head instead of those fake werewolves books that I can't get through. To me it seemed like a part mystery/ thriller crime with a twist of werewolves murderers. I really couldn't guess who the white wolf was until they practically told me! I liked her descriptions of the people and places of Hemlock. I liked Mac alot because she was an actual smart main character and she cared about her friends and family more than herself. The romance was I great until I found out that it was love-triangle between her two best friends....Jason and Kyle. The ending was so heartbreaking I was like this:Maybe not THAT tragic but it was still sad. Though it left me with something to look forward to in the next book. I recommend this book to EVERYONE!
What did I like about it?
There was great imagery in the transition from man/woman to wolf. I found it interesting how Kathleen Peacock described the doubling over and snapping of bones. I really liked this idea versus Stephenie Meyer’s snap your fingers and bada bing you’re a wolf description. This just seems so much more realistic, the fact that shapeshifting can be painful and ugly. I think she did a great job of using this idea the transformation to symbolize how the lupine disease can strangle you from the inside.
I really like Kyle, one of Mac’s love interests. He seems very genuine with a hint of I’ll-kick-your-butt if you cross me. He was definitely the most believable of the characters, and I would probably read book 2 just to see what happens with him in the future.
Amy is haunting Mac’s dreams, and I can’t tell if it is actually a haunting or just Mac’s subconscious going wacky. Either way, her dreams are very intense, and I think they were my favorite part of the book.
The ending….peeked my interest just enough for me to wonder what’s to come in the next installment.
What disappointed me?
The romance was very bland, and since romance is the part of books that I really LOVE to read, it disappointed me that this love triangle was so anticlimactic. It was very wishy-washy, back and forth, and I got to the point where I wanted to thump Mac…hard.
There were parts of the plot that were slow and predictable. I wanted something to really make me say, “No way,” but that point never came.
So…I’ll leave you with a few answered q’s:
Did I enjoy reading it? There were times I was reading because I wanted to know more and other times I was reading to get to the end.
Will I read the sequel? Probably, especially if the cover is awesome. Plus, I want to find out about the Amy hauntings.
Would I recommend this book? To those who like werewolves, if you are like me and even dislike Jacob, you might find this book is not for you.
With the government officially announcing Lupine Syndrome - or the werewolf virus - Hemlock immediately separates itself from most other YA titles, in that the general public acknowledge that there are paranormal creatures living among them! The disease is becoming increasingly more widespread, easily transferable as a mere scratch from someone who has been infected can pass on the disease, and with each new attack, panic levels rise. The rising hysteria easily explains why people are quick to revoke werewolves' rights and ship them off to rehabilitation camps, where they will spend the rest of their lives.
What I didn't find so easily explained were certain continuity issues. Like Mac's job, for example. Hemlock opens with her working as a waitress and there are a couple of instances where she specifically mentions financial issues being the reason for her needing to work. But as the plot progresses, her job is conspicuously absent. It's not until the epilogue that her job is mentioned again. The other main continuity issue I came across was Mac's guardian Tess and her flip-flopping parental concern. It seemed like Tess was only concerned about Mac when it was convenient for the plot for Mac to be stuck at home, or for her to feel guilty about betraying Tess' trust. Whenever possible, Tess was also conspicuously absent so as not to get in the way of Mac's sleuthing or love life.
The characters were all enjoyable to read about, but I didn't fully connect with any of them. I enjoyed Mac's dry sense of humour, especially in awkward or inopportune moments. I also loved her stubbornness and determination to solve Amy's murder regardless of her own safety - though it definitely got her into some dangerous situations!
Hoisting my brick, I aimed at the white werewolf's head and threw as hard as I could. The brick collided with the wolf's skull and then bounced to the ground.
It let go of Kyle and barked out a surprised yelp just as I realized my plan didn't have a step two.
Her relationship was Kyle was cute, even through her somewhat annoyingly naive insistence for the first half of Hemlock that they were just friends. I guess I didn't get to connect with Mac because of her self-consciousness about being a pretty blond who thinks she's plain, especially in comparison to her oh-so-gorgeous, wealthy and voluptuous best friend - it was a little too stereotypical for my liking. There was also the fact that I couldn't quite grasp Mac's history with her criminal father and how his abandonment affected her psyche.
I actually found both Kyle and Jason to be slightly better fleshed out then Mac, as I understood their inner emotional turmoil. The issues both boys were struggling to deal with, and the manner in which they expressed their angst, was both realistic and heartbreaking and I found myself looking for them when I was left alone with just Mac.
But the plot is where Hemlock truly captured my attention. I was desperate to figure out who Amy's killer was, the secrets Amy obviously hid from Mac, and what role Jason/Trey had in Amy's murder. As the clues piled up and Mac started to make connections, I found myself gripping the pages until my knuckles were white and the murderer was revealed. I won't say I didn't see it coming, but it was nice to see how Peacock tied up all the loose ends into something that made sense in a realistic way.
Some minor issues aside, I really enjoyed Hemlock. Even though I didn't fully connect with the characters, I was invested in what happened to them and I hoped for their safety/happiness. But Hemlock's saving grace was it's action-packed thriller of a plot, which caught me in it's grasp and refused to let go!
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.
THIS BOOK WAS AMAZING!
It made me think one thing then another then another and completely twist it around
Life. Death. Life. Death
AND THE ENDING!
I WAS NOT EXPECTING THAT!
I know i'm not making much since but the point is...
THIS BOOK WAS EPIC!
At first I wasn't exactly expecting a whole lot from this book. When I saw the word werewolves I literally groaned. Lately werewolves have been overplayed, only second to vampires. But the thing is that this book was completely original. Its different than those cliche werewolf novels that have been going around lately.
Let me explain
The book begins when Makenzie's (or Mac as she is usually called)best friend, Amy, is murdered by a white werewolf that has killed 3 other people and injured others giving them Lupine Syndrome.
What is Lupine Syndrome?
It is a virus passed on by a werewolf by a scratch or a bite. If you get scratched or bitten by a werewolf you get Lupine Syndrome(or LS for short)after about 30 days you eventually are able to shift into a wolf.
This all started about 12 years before the book begins when werewolves were found to actually exist causing paranoia and hysteria. Werewolves are thought to be entirely evil and dangerous.
And that's where the Trackers come in.
The Trackers are like vampire slayers only with werewolves. Although their job isn't exactly to terminate them but they do kill them if they don't "cooperate". No, their job is to take them to the rehab for werewolves which they will live their whole lives away from regs or regular people.
Basically this book reminds me of racism on steroids
Back to the main story
Amy's grandpa (who happens to be a senator) calls for the Trackers for them to look for the werewolf that killed Amy. But Mac doesn't trust the Trackers and decides to search for the truth herself. Discovering more truths than she ever thought she was going to find....
The only things I did not like this book was the few cliches (I hate cliches)
for example: the jealous girlfriend, and goodbye note
But I literally jumped with joy throughout the book because I didn't find any love triangles!
But sadly I feel that there will be a dreaded love triangle in the next book. :(
DUN! DUN! DUN!
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
Another thing I need to mention is the ending
It's not exactly a cliffhanger (and I absolutely hate cliffhangers!)
but it's very close to one.
But it's not like all the main character's fiends are trapped in a burning building with demons on the loose and no magic (if you know what book i'm talking about CONGRATS!)
So that's a relief
For a very short recap....
THIS BOOK WAS AMAZING!
So, the UNTHINKABLE happens. This Amy chick gets herself brutally killed in a deserted alley. And, boy, the fear is adrenaline overdose. Peacock sure knows how to orchestrate a solid, fast-gripping chase. Anyway, Amy here is found in pieces—if I remember right—and everybody’s all very devastated. Amy, as we are soon to discover, is one of the town golden girls, granddaughter of this Senator with LOADS of influence and power. She was a granddaughter, a best friend, and a girlfriend before she was found OVERKILL-dead, and the people who cared about her are unsurprisingly anguished but for unexpected reasons. Everyone—Mac, Kyle, Jason, among others whose identities remain delicious secrets—has dirty little secrets about their involvement in Amy’s shocking death. It’s all very much like an episode of Pretty Little Liars. Only WAY BETTER.
Mackenzie, or more fondly known as Mac, is/was Amy’s bestie and is in a really shizzy place mentally and emotionally even after months have passed since that dreadful, dreadful day. Now, Mackenzie is living her life one painful, dull moment at a time while doing her best to look after the only two other people who mattered to either Mac or Amy—Kyle and Jason. Jason has become a walking downward spiral, aka a pathetic drunkard; Kyle has gotten himself into some deep shizz with a psycho ex and has been pulling away more and more. Mac is all WHAT THE EFF IS GOING ON HERE? She’s tearing herself in two trying to save both of them, when neither of them really deserve all that attention and concern and looking after. Mac has the patience of a saint, if you ask me, to hang onto these two guys who bring nothing but strain to her day-to-day.
It’s never really explained why Amy mattered so much to Kyle and Jason, but you get Mac’s despair. Friendless nearly all her life, to have someone so close be torn away… Mac loved Amy because she made a difference in Mac’s life, and I FELT for Mac. It isn’t until the pieces start falling into our laps, however, that we all realize Amy may have been hiding a few of her colors.
~I’m so proud of me and my guessing skillz~
And THAT, quite honestly, is the best part of Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock. Figuring that most of the townspeople of Hemlock are not AT ALL who they say they are, who they pretend to be. In fact, many of them are curtaining buckets of secrets and it’s up to Mac to sort through and connect them to the attacks and Amy’s death.
I LIKED being suspicious of everyone I met, wondering about their well-kept secrets and who would have the most damning motive. Although I puzzled out who the villain was fairly quickly—because I’m a G like that—everyone else’s true identity is certainly not as easy to rationalize.
~Mac’s daddy issues and boys in need of slapattacks~
Mac, as I said, is really bent out of shape over Amy’s murder, and can’t resist blaming herself for everything that has gone wrong since then. She blames herself for not being Kyle and Jason’s white knight, saving Jason from himself and Kyle from whatever secrets are causing those shadows under his cute eyeballs. Rather than feeling annoyed, I actually found that this quality makes her endearing rather than irritating. She’s had a rough childhood with really terrible parents, and all she knows is what awfulness her father managed to leave imprinted in her subconscious. She views herself as dispensable, disposable, and it makes her sad, vulnerable, and lonely in ways that make her half-deserving of a hug. Daddy issues or not, however, I do so enjoy the way this girl goes about saving the day—a little impulsive, logical, and a lot brave (or maybe stupid?).
While on some level, I dug Jason and Kyle, the other half of Mac’s dwindling foursome, I had my issues with them. Although it’s voluntary, Mac puts herself through a lot of crap on her remaining bffs’ behalves and neither fully appreciates and values all she does. Their actions, at least, say that. She reads more like a mama bear half the time than a best friend or a love interest for all the babysitting and confronting and intervening she starts up. I didn’t fully grasp the attraction to either of them for that reason. They may both be smokin’, but they’ve got too many issues to count and Mac comes off more like a den mother than anything else. Secrets, lies, betrayals, they’re both culprits, and some of their actions are immature to say the least, in a grating way as opposed to a They’re Evolving and Learning Throughout the Book way, which is actually attractive.
~Ready to end this~
Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock is definitely delightfully entertaining and all, but there are certain points that tend to drag, and I would’ve liked to have seen the story condensed a bit more. There’s so much drama and general mayhem, yes, and it’s effective, but I could’ve done without some of it.
I don’t know how Peacock is going to stretch out this series, and I’d hate to see it be dragged on for the sake of the all-important love triangle *eye-roll*, which I have no definitive stance on. Let’s pray that Peacock has more pressing matters mapped out for Mac and the gang, and that the next mystery is as exciting as Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock.
Want something similar to read? Check out Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard and Velveteen by Daniel Marks.
Originally posted at Paranormal Indulgence, 6/14/12
I might have been a little biased about this book because of the werewolves. I have a special attachment to them because the first thing I ever really wrote - and the only thing I ever finished - was about werewolves. But after I finished, I knew that had nothing to do with why I loved it so much. People might say they're sick of werewolves, but Hemlock is something I think everyone should take a chance on.
I love the idea of a world where people know that mythical creatures exist. The world of Hemlock is such an easy one to immerse yourself in. The way the world is built up and explained is perfect. It's a world that's so interesting that I just completely loved reading about it. Maybe it's so easy to get involved with because it's also so easy to imagine because it's barely different from ours - but instead of regular serial killers, the serial killers in Hemlock happen to be werewolves. Or maybe Kathleen Peacock is just that good.
I think I only had one issue with this book, and that was Amy. Amy is - or was - Mac's best friend. Amy, even in death, is a big part of the book, yet I almost hated Amy. She's portrayed as a bad person, both through Mac's dreams and the secrets we eventually find out she kept. Even the way Mac talked about her sometimes. It made me wonder she was friends with her, why everyone loved her so much. It was hard for me to understand anyone's motives when it came to Amy.
However, Hemlock is still full of mystery, suspense, and of course some romance. And some awesome characters. Mac is an ordinary girl who can be extraordinary at times simply because she cares so much about protecting the people she loves. The way she never gives up on Jason is admirable. She doesn't run away from all the scary things in her world just because they're scary - but at the same time, she's still scared. She still acts like a teenage girl.
There is a slight love triangle in Hemlock that will probably escalate in the rest of the series, but I can't even complain about that. Both boys involved are ones I love. Jason is broken, flawed, not always easy to put up with, but fiercely loyal and protective. Kyle is also very loyal and protective - but in a different way. Either way, no matter what you think their personalities are, all the characters in Hemlock are very well-developed. They all have depth, which isn't something I've seen in YA lately.
Overall: Werewolves. Suspense. Amazing characters that are real, even if they're slightly paranormal. This debut has it all. Hemlock grips you from the first page and doesn't let go - not even when you've finished. 5 stars.