We got a new batch of read-alike bookmarks at work and they were obviously made by someone who doesn’t read much. We’re talking “If you like BRAD THOR then try OTHER DAD-THRILLER” level of recommendations. Could I recommend you a book that you’d find on the best-seller list? Sure, but… you can just look at the best-seller list if you want to read that. There are plenty of books in the library without nationwide marketing campaigns — what’s the point of a librarian if they can only rec the same books you’d see commercials for on daytime TV?
I’ve always liked the idea of werewolves, but they get stuck with the worst media. There are maybe three good werewolf movies, the World of Darkness Werewolf RPG had clunky rules and even weirder players than Vampire, and I don’t think there were any decent novels about them. But there have been a few titles that broke the curse over the last couple years.
The most recent surprisingly good werewolf novel is Carnivorous Lunar Activities, by Max Booth III. Most of the book is a conversation between two former high school buds over the course of an evening, and Booth wrings an impressive amount of tension out of two down-on-their-luck guys and a dingy basement. His characters and dialogue have enough pathos and humor to easily carry the story until things come to a head in act three.
The book is a frickin’ romp, and you probably tore through it faster than a lycanthrope through an unsuspecting police deputy. What particular element of Carnivorous Lunar Activities has left you hungry for more?
Give me another character who’s in waaay over their head when dealing with the supernatural. Red Sky Blues, by Matthew Davis.
Red Sky Blues follows Thomas Gray, an errand-boy to otherworldly beings who winds up foiling world-ending plots nobody else can be bothered to piece together, and it doesn’t help that magic is severely physically exhausting for mortals. Both novels feature protagonists who are dedicated, though a bit burned-out and mouthier than a professional would be, but they’re still gonna get the job done. Or get some other folks killed trying.
I just like a flawed protagonist being bad at things, supernaturality be damned. Notes from the Internet Apocalypse, by Wayne Gladstone.
Gladstone is just your average Very Online guy trying to navigate meatspace and figure out why the entire Internet just stopped working. Nothing paranormal, the people trying to form little in-person Something Awful communes completely obey the laws of physics. While it’s riddled with humorous observation and caricatures, it’s as much a study of the quasi-Nice-Guy narrator as it is the Internet at large. Gladstone ain’t a bad guy, but he isn’t any better of a detective than Ted is a hunter, so pratfalls abound!
If werewolves can have a decent turn in fiction, what’s next? A zombie novel that isn’t tedious? The Last Weekend, Nick Mamatas.
There’s more to werewolves than platitudes about ‘the beast within,’ and there’s more to zombies than the warmed-over fantasies of guys who are really into EDC. The Last Weekend follows an alcoholic writer who won’t let the fact that society is crumbling around him stop him from making excuses to not write his great American novel — It’s tough to sit down and write when you spent a day working for what’s left of the city drilling holes into corpses’ heads. If you dug the unique self-deprecating human spin that Booth put on the werewolf formula, Mamatas’ literary-zombie-satire will probably start gnawing at your cranium just as easily.
BONUS FORMAL DIGRESSION: The poem “Unlimited Teenage Werewolves” by Zachary Evans in Pulpmouth Issue 1.