Enjoy this Monday with Mildred!
I finished reading this last night and was overall very pleased with the book, which, given my history with werewolf novels is pretty incredible. One that I read years ago, at the urging of friends, had an impossible cliffhanger death scene at the end of every chapter. Seventeen or eighteen “Oh, but they’re saved.” chapter starts in a row and you begin to feel a teensy bit cheated. Another werewolf novel I read a couple years after that, again at the urging of a friend, went into great and loving detail about wolf piss. It was a very pissy novel. I am not into piss, not smelling it or rolling in it or spraying it on others as a way to show affection. So I gave up the werewolf novel until a faculty who had loaned me Geek Love years ago – a book that BLEW MY MIND – threw her just read copy of Sharp Teeth on my desk. “No,” I said, handing it back. “Werewolves. Yuck.” But she talked me into it and I took it home and threw it on the dining room table and there it sat for a very long time. Being a person who keeps their word, though, I did eventually pick it up and read the first couple of pages thinking I could then tell her I’d tried.
Dang it all, she was right again. It’s a short book about territorial lycanthropic gangs in modern Los Angeles and very engaging despite its free verse style, which I had assumed would irritate the crap out of me. There is very little room for description but I felt comfortable with the settings and the main characters. They seemed very real to me and their stories were intimate, which made me anxious as the climax neared. There was even a very unexpected and touching romance. Kinda. My only quibble is that it got to be very confusing near the end, keeping who was who straight. Otherwise, I highly recommend it.
One of the reasons I had trouble keeping who was who in my head was that one of the main characters literally is never named. This morning, thinking I must have missed something I went back and searched through the pages, sure I’d missed it. Fortunately, there is a Cast of Characters in the back and sure enough, she is listed as “she”. Never named. That’s my biggest complaint. I’m sure he had kewl reasons for it. Whatever.
Because I really hate unhappy endings, and because it’s not considered cool to have them anymore, I was expecting the worst in the last few pages and dreading it. My heart had already been broken enough with how the story of Bonnie and her Good Dog turned out, so I wasn’t looking forward to everyone dying. Boy, was I surprised.
- Sharp Teeth – Wikipedia
- Toby Barlow on Macmillan Publishers
- Toby Barlow – Blog on HuffingtonPost
- Toby Barlow – Twitter