Book Review: Pack by Mike Bockoven

 
 
Dave and his pack of werewolves live a comfortable life in their small town of Cherry, Nebraska---until one of their own murders a women and brings all sorts of trouble to their doorstep. Dave's son's first transformation, infidelity, family trouble, and the loss of a member are already causing tension among the pack, but they'll have to find a way to overcome these things if they want to keep their town safe from a strange new enemy.
 

 
Book Review: Pack by Mike Bockoven | reading, books, book reviews, paranormal/urban fantasy, werewolves
Title: Pack
Author:
Publisher:
Series:
Book Number: Book 1
Pages: 368
My Book Rating:
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Publisher
 

Review:

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher. This has not influenced my review.*

I’ve been wanting to read about werewolves lately—not the sexy shifter paranormal romance kind though, something more traditional and dangerous—so I jumped at the chance to read this one. This book turned out to be a unique combination of vicious werewolves, small town life, and an imperfect family coming together when it mattered despite their struggles.

I really liked the werewolf aspect. The way their transformation and time out running as wolves was described. How they would lose some of their human mind and become more violent and wolf-like while transformed. That some of them could talk and walk on two legs. The traditions they had as a pack. That they recognized how dangerous their ability was. They were kind of in the middle-ground between the sexy shifters populating the paranormal genre and traditional murderous weres, which I appreciated. I would, however, have liked a little more explanation about the werewolf stuff and how it worked in this world because I found myself lost at first and confused about some of the details throughout.

The complex family aspect was another thing I really liked. Dave and Josie’s marriage was falling apart, but they were still trying to work things out between them. Willy was a crappy person and crappy father to Dave, but Dave still risked things to save him because he was still Dave’s father and Dilly’s grandfather. Dilly was struggling to come to terms with the things he had learned about his parents and the realization that they weren’t as perfect as he had thought. But despite all the problems, they still had each others’ backs and came together. It was a very imperfect, flawed, realistic portrayal of family, of how you can still care about a person even when they treat you poorly because family is complicated sometimes, of the way families can be messy and screwed up but still band together. And it wasn’t just about blood; it was about neighbors and community and chosen family, whether you really chose them or not.

The small town made for a good setting and brought a lot of ambience and personality to the story. It was a major part of the plot and the main characters’ motivations since they knew people in this town, and people them, and it was their home, and that meant something to them.

One thing I didn’t like so much was the omniscient POV. It’s not my favorite. But it seemed well-written and gave a well-rounded view of things.

Also, I must admit I thought this would be a standalone, so it threw me off when I got to the end and realized it’s the first in a series (or rather, it might be). This one was wrapped up everything well enough that it could work as a satisfying standalone, but there were questions left unanswered and certain things left unresolved.

Last but not least, there was some violence that might bother the squeamish, but it wasn’t as graphic as it could’ve been, nor was it the focus of the story.

Overall, this was an enjoyable book with flawed characters I was rooting for and a unique combination of werewolves, family, and small town life!

 
 
Book Blurb

Cherry, Nebraska, population 312, is just off the highway between the sticks and the boonies. It’s where Dave Rhodes and his friends have lived all their lives. They own businesses, raise families, pay taxes, deal with odd neighbors and, once or twice a month just like their fathers before them—transform into wolves. It’s not a bad life, but when one of the group members goes astray, it sets in motion a series of events that will threaten to destroy the delicate balance that has kept Dave and his clan off the radar. Between a son getting ready for his first transformation—called The Scratch—a wife with sordid secrets, a new sheriff who knows nothing of the creatures in his midst, and a mysterious man in a bow tie with a shady agenda, the middle of nowhere is about to get very dangerous.

Interspersed with historical documents and newspaper clippings, and court documents that reveal the past of Cherry, Nebraska, a past informed by spirits, the devil, and crooked cops. In the vein of Donald Ray Pollock and Glen Duncan, Pack is at its heart is the story of family’s survival in an unforgiving world. Mike Bockoven’s second novel moves at breakneck speed with prose that hits like an injection of battery acid. Raw, real, and funny, Pack exposes the horror and tenderness that festers in the forgotten corners of the American Dream.

Basic Info

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More Info (Possible Spoilers)

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Warnings

Sex:
Violence:
Strong Language:

 
 
 

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Your Thoughts

 

22 thoughts on “Book Review: Pack by Mike Bockoven

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    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! I really did love that it portrayed a version of family you don’t see often in books. Normally it’s either adorable family or physically abusive, and there’s very little in-between to explore the complex relationships. I actually haven’t read Wolfsong despite enjoying many of Klune’s other books, so I’ll have to consider it now that I’m into werewolves!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, that definitely happens sometimes. But I’m glad I went for it with this one, I loved that it explored family dynamics that you don’t find often in books!

  1. Alyssa

    I haven’t heard of this, but I LOVE werewolf books, especially when the stories delve deeper into something else that’s more than just werewolf life, like this one does with family drama. Great review!

  2. Anne @ The Reading Life

    I really like how you praised the portrayal of werewolves in the book, knowing that it’s a very commonly used trope. And if I’m being honest? I don’t like any povs other than just one (and that includes omniscient, mulitple, etc). So yeah, I don’t know if I’ll like this book.

    But great review! And I actually lost your blog url for a while, and I finally found it again haha. Nice to see you again!

    1. Kristen Burns

      It is nice to see some different portrayals of werewolves! That’s fair, you’re allowed to like whatever type of POV you like :-)

      Thanks! Oh no, I’m glad you found it again too XD It’s so hard to keep up with so many blogs sometimes!

  3. Lindsi

    I don’t really like cliffhangers or questions left unanswered, even when a book is going to be part of a series. I prefer every book to be able to stand on its own, and flow into others if it’s part of a series. I get frustrated when I’m left guessing and then have to wait years for the next one (if one comes at all).

    I do really like this cover!
    L @ Do You Dog-ear?

    Lindsi recently posted: Mini Reviews [7]

    1. Kristen Burns

      I appreciate an overarching story in series, as long as each book has its own complete story too. I get frustrated when I think something is a standalone but it turns out not to be and then leaves me hanging with certain things :-/ But I can understand your frustrations too. I don’t like major cliffhangers either.

      Seriously, the cover is amazing!

  4. Greg

    Ooh werewolves. I think I’d like the same things- the mindset when turned, the fact they can go two- legged, the somewhat more vicious aspect. Would probably appeal to me. I love the bit too about family and how you can be devoted even when they treat you badly- I kinda want to read this now!! The clueless sheriff sounds like it could be a fun angle too- I can only imagine taking a sheriff job in a place full of werewolves! Good luck pal lol.

    I may have to get this, I need a good werewolf read.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, I like when werewolves don’t think quite humanly when they turn. And I like the two-legged since it’s like the classic horror movie version, you know? And I like seeing different portrayals of family, kinds that you don’t always see. I think you might like this book!

  5. verushka

    You know, I don’t think I’ve ever read a werewolf story where the werewolves have not been of the sexy werewolf kind. I like what you’ve described of the werewolf-building, despite what it is lacking. The small town aspect too is another thing I liked — I blame cozy mysteries — they have ignited a fascination in me for small towns, not matter if they’re cozys or not!

  6. Becky@ A Fool's Ingenuity

    This sounds like a really great book about werewolves. I admit I do enjoy the sext shifter trend, sometimes those books are just perfect, but like I liked Holly Black’s portrayal of vampires being deadly and overcoming the sexy vampire trend, I reckon I’d enjoy the werewolves in this being a touch more dangerous and a bit less sexy. And a complicated family dynamic? When done right I can really enjoy that because family is complicated and it’s not always a case that they deserve the commitment we give to them so reading about it is awesome.

    Also, I forget to tick your comment box for consent every time. Eventually, I will remember, right?

    1. Kristen Burns

      We all like different versions of paranormals :-) Maybe one day I’ll find some sexy shifters I like! Holly Black’s vampires were still pretty sexy tbh lol, but they were in the middle-ground between sexy and dangerous, and that’s actually how I like my vampires best, I think. That’s kind of the Anne Rice version that I grew up on. But yeah, back to this book, the family aspect was great because I feel like you don’t see that kind of portrayal often.

      Oh gosh, there’s so many boxes to tick everywhere that I have to stop and make sure I’m doing things right every time I comment anywhere *rolls eyes*