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Monday, May 7, 2012

ARC Review: Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock

TITLE: Hemlock                            SERIES: Hemlock #1
AUTHOR: Kathleen Peacock    PUB: Harper Collins
PUB DATE: 5/8/12                     FORMAT: ARC, 400 pgs
SOURCE: from pub for review

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.

THREE WORDS: Furry Little BIG Problem

MY REVIEW: I’ll admit that when it comes to werewolves I’m a traditionalist. I like my werewolves to wolf-out under the full moon, maintaining their basic human shape, albeit with some serious claws, fangs and a little fur, brought down only by a silver bullet to the heart, infecting others with a bite, and then transform back into a human as the morning sun rises. I don’t ask for much really *smirk*…so, as you can imagine I’m not always a huge fan of the ever popular shape-shifting “werewolves” who transform into full on wolves whenever they want. BUT, I actually really enjoyed the wolfy werewolf packed Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock.

Lupine syndrome is rampant and the government forces the infected to live in internment camps, with no rights. In the town of Hemlock people are being killed and infected by a white werewolf, including Mackenzie’s (Mac) BFF Amy. Amy’s Senator grandfather brings in the extremists Trackers (werewolf hunters) to rid the town of his granddaughter’s murderer. Amy’s boyfriend, and Mac’s friend, Jason, jumps aboard the Tracker train despite Mac’s concern. After Mac learns secrets about her dead BFF, Jason, her other friend Kyle and the Trackers she vows to uncover the identity of the white werewolf herself and keep all the people she loves safe. But what she uncovers is beyond anything she could have imagined.

In Hemlock, Kathleen Peacock crafts an engrossing and refreshing supernatural story wrought with mystery, romance, engaging characters and thought-provoking topics. I really, really like two of those four things. The other two I had issues with.

What do I really, really like? The fresh supernatural elements, the mystery, the provocative topics, and the story as a whole. I love that the werewolves are “out of the closet” so to speak. The tense warlike struggle between the infected and regular humans is quite captivating and well developed. Peacock has realistically and deftly developed this world full of hostility, fear and ignorance, and has fairly explored both sides of this war. Peacock explores prejudice, ignorance, sacrifice, trust and betrayal and does so in a way that will inspire thoughtful discussion and reflection. In this book we get to delve into the structure and culture of the Trackers and in the next book I really hope we get the same look into the world of the werewolves.

I found Mac’s story to be a thrilling and layered one, but the storyline is more predictable than surprising. The characters’ intentions are often transparent and I figured out the identity of the white werewolf long before the end. But there are several twists and revelations that I never saw coming, but really liked.

I like most of the characters, but I do feel as if they are quite stereotypical or cliché. Like many YA heroines, Mac thinks she’s plain and undesirable and she often compares herself to her dead BFF, who, of course, was gorgeous and spunky and full of life. Self-esteem issues I get, but the way Mac constantly defines herself based on those around her just makes her feel a little flat and frustrating. Mac is certainly relatable and has a fierce determination, but she lacks that sparkle that I look for in my fave heroines. The two main guys, Kyle and Jason, are both likable fellas and they both come across quite complex and layered. However, I think I liked them better has Mac’s friends and not potential love interests. Honestly, it’s really the supporting characters, such as Mac’s friends Serena and Trey and even the nasty Derby, that I found the most well-developed and interesting. 

My biggest issue with this book is the romantic aspects. I don’t hate love triangles, especially when they’re written very well, and for the most part they are either hit or miss with me. The love triangle in Hemlock is more miss than hit. Now, as I stated above, I like both Kyle and Jason as characters and I get why Mac likes them, but I didn’t find either one of them overly swoon-worthy.  I’m neither Team Kyle nor Team Jason and at this point I don’t really care who Mac chooses. Truthfully, I have issue with the fact that the love triangle seems really contrived and unnecessary. The story would work and still be completely captivating if Mac had one clear love interest and remained best friends with the other guy. And even though by the end of the book Mac has chosen one guy, Peacock has certainly left room for future conflict and a change of heart, which I suppose, is what I like least about the romantic aspect. I much rather read about Mac’s evolving and growing relationship with one guy than the ever dramatic “Will she change her mind?”, “Will she dump X for Y?”, “Who does she love more? Who loves her more?!” *le sigh*

MY FINAL THOUGHTS: While my issues with stereotypical characters and the lackluster, frustrating romantic aspects in Hemlock are not easily ignored, even they cannot eclipse the truly enthralling and exciting supernatural elements, intrigue and mystery. And it is this overall story that Kathleen Peacock has created that warrants four cupcakes and has me confidently recommending this book.
4/5 Cupcakes

Find the author: Website  / Goodreads  / Twitter / Facebook
Purchase: Amazon / B&N / Book Depository
Kathleen Peacock spent her teen years crushing on authors and writing short stories about vampires. She put her writing dreams on hold while attending college, but tripped over them when office life started leaving her with an allergy to cubicles. Her debut, HEMLOCK, is coming May 8th, 2012 from Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of Harper Collins, and will be published in the UK under the title DEADLY HEMLOCK from Simon and Schuster Children’s Books. 


sarabara081 said...

I like how everyone knows about werewolves in this one. That's different and refreshing to hear. Sad about the romance though. Can't wait to read this! Great review! :)

Jennifer Messerschmidt said...

Oh yes I agree with your opinions on the love triangle. I really hate the back and forth. If she chooses one guy she should just stick with him. I prefer development. Also isn't one of the guy's her dead BFF's boyfriend?! Gross, she shouldn't be with him. I laughed at you preferring original werewolves. I actually like the shifter types and when the authors mix things up. I like the idea of werewolves out to everyone and people hunting them. Should be interesting.