Don’t judge a book by its genre…
I have to admit that I was a little bit skeptical when my daughter, Erin, told me I needed to read Weregirl by C.D. Bell. While I’m not opposed to YA shifter books, they tend to be a predictable and can even be a little annoying with their teenage angst and hormones. But, since I was all caught up on the books I had to read/review and there wasn’t anything I just had to get my hands on I took her up it. I am so glad I did!
Weregirl starts out as a typical YA read; young girl in high school, fairly bland and overlooked, is bitten by a wolf and starts having strange experiences and transformations. From that point on you need to throw out all your preconceived ideas because the story morphs into a mystery thriller that is appropriate for teens but so well written that adults will be hooked. I literally could not put it down until I was finished with it, which is a bad book to be reading when you have holiday activities to contend with! Luckily, its a fairly short read, only 400 pages, and like being in a kayak on a fast moving current, it snags you and pulls you to the end.
Ms. Bell has also put together an extremely authentic cast. The main character, Nessa, is an average teenager with typical crushes, insecurities and worries but is not hard to relate to because she is so personable. She is genuine and practical and has a really big heart. I also was struck by the fact that her best friend, Bree, was a very prominent character that helped her throughout the story, exactly how most teenage best friends would be. Most shifter stories involve the main character having to deal with their transformation on their own or through the help of other paranormals, adding to the realization that this is all fantasy. But, by incorporating realistic character interactions the line between fantasy and reality is easily blurred.
Another cool aspect of this book is the backstory. The acknowledgements state, “It was originally conceived of by the team at Chooseco, a small publishing company that was founded to relaunch the Choose Your Own Adventure series over a decade ago. Once the idea of the book was hatched, five members of Chooseco staff held a retreat at a house in the Eastern Townships of rural Quebec and began to plot a book about a girl who is bitten by a wolf on a nighttime run and starts to transform.” After hashing out the basic structure, including all the main characters and their backgrounds, they then invited Ms. Bell to to join the group and write the actual novel. The group was very involved and instrumental throughout the whole writing process.
While Weregirl is a stand alone novel, the ending leaves enough openings for a follow up book. I would love to read more! (hint, hint Ms. Bell!)