Saturday, June 2, 2018

A Pack of Lies | Jo Thomas

Elkie Bernstein is having werewolf problems of a different kind. The kind that involves long-term strategy and paperwork, neither of which she's very good at. She needs to get Ben (and maybe David) out of the Institute and away from Olsen who seeks to use Ben to find more werewolves. She needs to keep her farm going after her partnership with the Williams' family dissolves. Most importantly, she needs to protect a couple of young were-pups from the hands of those that would use them.


This book does pretty much everything that I want a sequel to do: it expands upon the world of the original in a way that makes sense. In the first book we were pretty much as "stuck" as Elkie in the middle of nowhere in Wales and we didn't get any sense of werewolves being known in the world. In this book, not only do we get to see a sliver of Norway, but we also get to see a werewolf pack. Well, we get to see that such things exist. In all honesty, I'm glad we still get to focus on Elkie and her struggles as opposed to side trips to the perspectives of others. 

Elkie remains one of my favorite female protagonists. She is very down-to-earth, self-aware, and kind hearted. I love that she openly admits to being a bad chess player and how that translates to her real life (I often have very similar frustrations). I love the fact that, even with everything stacked against her, she focuses on finding ways to make it work. She gets anxiety and I think some depression, but she keeps moving. I love that in a main character. She reads like a very well rounded character who is making the most of what she's been given in life and is finding contentment in it. Well, she would be if others would give her the chance to actually be content, but that's the cost of being a protagonist. 

While the book doesn't have more characters than the last one, the characters that are in this one last a lot longer so it feels like there are more, in a good way. Thomas does a wonderful job of keeping them well balanced. I'll admit, May's character wasn't as well played out as the others, but maybe that's the idea and she'll play a bigger role in the third book (which I'll be looking to get my hands on). I also liked that, while there are little kid characters, it rarely, if ever, reads like the little kid tropes. They're were-puppies who have distinct personalities and are learning to love books. What's not to love?

As the summary suggests, there wasn't nearly as much action in this book as there was in the first. There are still some werewolf fights, but the vast majority of the book is more strategy and positioning than actual fighting. Which makes sense. Elkie doesn't enjoy killing werewolves and only ever does out of self-defense. In this book there are few situations where she finds herself in need of defense. I can't say that there's more drama than I usually like because, well, Elike's personality and Thomas' sense of humor really keep it from feeling that way. That's quite the feat considering we get a lot of Elkie and her mom talking about Elkie's long lost dad and family issues. 

In case you can't tell, I enjoyed this book. Elkie is a wonderful, relatable character whose independence (stubbornness) and enjoyment of the simple things in life (hazelnut spread) make for an engaging read. In fact, I've already purchased the third book. This world, these characters, are very interesting to me and I'm loving finding out more about them all. 4.5 hoots!




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