Thursday, August 16, 2012

First Timer: Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

Dragging myself out of the slump that is The Black Sun's Daughter, I decided to do something different and take a look at some older Urban Fantasy for this review. Patricia Briggs is no new face in those circles: she’s done over a dozen books, and has even had her work turned into a graphic novel. Her longest series is referred to simply as the Mercy Thompson Series, and is about a shape shifter who can turn into a coyote and lives in a world that is just coming to terms with the supernatural.
Now I have to say that I was a little skittish about reading another book about female shape shifters. the fact is that shape shifting is a hyper masculine subject, seeing as almost all animal kingdoms are male dominated, and having a kick-ass female character in them goes against the grain pretty hard. Kitty Norville in Carrie Vaughn's books are a great example. the main character Kitty is the pack leader of her group and almost always gets herself into more than she can handle and never shows any signs of alpha mentality. it makes it really hard to follow and even more so, hard to believe. that being the case, I was pleasantly surprised with Moon Called.
The back cover of the book doesn't tell you much about the plot itself, but here's the gist: Mercedes "Mercy" Thompson is a skin walker (a rare breed of shape shifter in the stories cannon who can change instantly into a coyote, is immune to most forms of magic, and is considered a kind of demon hunter) who lives in the Tri-city area, and makes her way as a mechanic. In her world, werewolves, magic and faeries are real, but only the fey have come out to the general public, while some other groups are considering it as well, seeing as modern technology and forensics are making it hard for them to stay hidden. Mercy was raised by werewolves, but was never part of a pack because coyote are considered lesser animals to wolves. Despite this, Mercy's neighbor is a pack leader of the local werewolves and seems to have a things for her...sometimes.
And that's pretty much it.
I'd love to say that there is more to the plot, but for the most part, this book just seemed to be about introducing the different elements of the universe of Mercy Thompson. You get a good look at the werewolf packs in her area, as well as a town in Montana that is all werewolves and their families. You get to see the vampires and their leader in the Tri-city area and their effect on Mercy. But beyond that, the book had a very scattered feel to it, jumping from one place to another with characters making conjectures about what’s going on and being wrong time and time again. There is a major plot point about people being turned into werewolves and being sold, but it’s mostly just to move the story around like a one-sided game of checkers.
All in all it was a very interesting read, and I do plan on reading the second book, though I won't review it. There were only two big points I do want to make about the book though. The first is of course about Literary Manslaughter. One of the characters is introduced early in the book and killed off with almost no point whatsoever. One second he's there giving clues about the plot, the next he's dead and there is literally no point to it whatsoever. It doesn't drive the story any further because there are other events going on at the same time. There was no reason to kill him, and I'm a big fan of not creating characters just to murder them, it just seems very callous to me.
The second part was the last two chapters. almost everything in the story is resolved in the second to last chapter, but in the final part of it, it goes about telling about different things happening one after another, and all of them are completely out of Mercy's perspective: things happening in the wolf pack in Montana, and a story being printed that couldn't have happened for months or even years after the main story. The final chapter is all about Mercy getting back to her life at the garage and going out on a date with a werewolf. There was no point to the entire chapter other than fleshing out a few final details that weren’t all that important to the story to begin with. It reminded me of the Twilight movies where they are doing shopping or talking about dresses: nothing is happening and while it might be realistic, it’s not very interesting.
I would consider recommending to the five people who like Urban Fiction and never read her before, but keep in mind there is more to the story than the first book, and things are bound to get more entertaining.

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