*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!
Anyone who likes vicious werewolves, small towns, and imperfect families.
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.