Release date: 05/08/12
Synopsis from goodreads.com:
Mackenzie and Amy were best friends. Until Amy was brutally murdered.
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 boyfriend, 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 spellbinding urban fantasy series filled with provocative questions about prejudice, trust, lies, and love.
My thoughts on the book:
Wow. This book had a lot going on, and it was all good. First I liked the blatant condemnation of bigotry, though it took a new form. Hemlock shows how dangerous it can be for people to judge those who are different from them, and it shows what terrible lengths some people will go to in order to ensure that everyone is the same. I normally try to avoid books that have authors preaching a message, but Peacock doesn't preach. She just shows the dangers associated with bigotry. She doesn't state that bigotry is wrong, and she doesn't make any judgment calls at all in the novel. She also has characters that are likable do some pretty terrible things. She shows that no one is perfect and that we all make mistakes. She also illustrates that sometimes the people who are different are a million times better than the people who are bigots. I really enjoyed her approach in dealing with this important social issue. In addition to a strong message, Hemlock delivers a strong cast of characters, an intriguing plot, and an unpredictable mystery.
Each character in Hemlock is dynamic and flawed. Some are more flawed than others, but everyone has their own skeletons. The only thing that got on my nerves about the characters was the fact that Mac kept being shocked when she found out someone had hidden something from her, and then she threw a childish fit. I mean seriously, after about the 12th person, you'd think she'd come to accept it. It's not like she ran around telling everyone everything herself. Hypocrite much? As I said, the characters were flawed, but they were still, for the most part, likable. I did like Mac, just that one personality trait really annoyed me. There was only one character in this book who was completely bad, and that was a given from the beginning. The others, regardless of their roles in the story, had both good and bad aspects. Peacock left it up to the reader to decide who was acceptable to like and who was not. She presented the actions of the characters and left the judgment up to us. I absolutely loved Jason and Kyle, though they were both fairly flawed. Especially Jason. He does redeem himself at some points though. I think he means well, he's just got a lot of growing to do. Kyle is a good guy, but he also has a dark side. And how he handles things sometimes gets on my nerves. Tess was a good character, and pretty present in the story. She was the parental figure. I also liked Serena and Trey, though again, they were flawed. Amy's ghost/figment of Mac's imagination/Mac's hallucination/whatever she may be was intriguing. I'm looking forward to learning more about that and finding out what, exactly is going on there. I can't wait to see what happens next with all of these characters. I felt attached to all of them in some form or another.
The plot was unique and intriguing. I had the killer figured out pretty early on because Peacock dropped a hint that I picked up on. I like mysteries, though, and I'm usually pretty good at solving them. However, I didn't know for sure who it was until the very end. Some of the things going on did shock me, though. There were a lot of revelations that I wasn't expecting, and that kept me on the edge of my seat. The big reveal was of the killer, which I had already guessed, but I hadn't guessed his motives. That part shocked me. Also, the pacing of the story was spot-on. It was a quick read, even though it was around 400 pages, but nothing ever felt rushed. The ending tied up most of the loose ends from this novel, but it opened up another question in order to lead into the sequel. I cannot wait for the next book in this series.
There is a lot of shape-shifting in the book, since it's a werewolf book, but it's not like the other wolf books out there. No other paranormal stuff happened other than the mystery surrounding Amy, which isn't answered in this novel. There's no pack dynamic between the wolves. Most of the wolves don't even know who the other wolves in the community are. The werewolves are out of the closet, but it's not like the Mercy Thompson series where they have alphas to keep them in line. The people who are infected have to hide who they are or they get locked up in internment camps of sorts. It's really a horrifying thought, and most of the wolves didn't seem that dangerous. Sure, they could infect and kill people, but most of them were good people deep down. I mean every once in awhile they got a crazy, but that happens with normal people, too. I think that was one of the points of the book, though. Genetics, differences, etc. don't make someone good or bad. Who they are as a person is what makes them good or bad.
There is a love triangle, of course, but it's not annoying. Mac isn't all indecisive about it. She has one moment of confusion, but other than that, she's pretty set on who she wants. I don't mind love triangles as long as they're handled well. Also, there's no insta-love, thankfully.
Overall, I'd recommend Hemlock to anyone who likes a good mystery/YA romance with a paranormal twist. I know this book has had mixed reviews, but I, personally, can't figure out what people didn't like about it. To each their own. Everyone has a different opinion. I really enjoyed this novel, and I think everyone should give it a try!
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