Sunday, November 14, 2010

Review: The Frenzy by Francesca Lia Block

I did not like this book. There were times while reading it that I thought I would change my mind—that perhaps I may have misjudged it and that there was, in fact, some good stuff lurking in these pages. It turns out, however, that my initial feeling was correct and that I should have stopped reading The Frenzy long before I reached the ridiculous conclusion. I realize now how misguided I was to actually believe that the author was going to somehow transform this seemingly clichĂ© story about a girl who is a werewolf and is struggling against her true nature, into a powerful, moving novel that leaves you feeling haunted long after you’ve finished reading the last page. I thought, The Frenzy would have an impact on me. It did in a way—it’s called revulsion.

The main character, Olivia is a werewolf. I know it. You know it. The author certainly knows it. Yet she just can’t seem to put two and two together and figure out that she’s not entirely human. She has blackouts around the full moon and wakes up completely naked and, often times, covered in blood. Check! She has a strong desire to be in the woods and never leave. Check! She is consumed with rage, has a fine layer of hair covering her entire body, and can communicate telepathically with a “pack” of strange boys with gold eyes. Check, check, check! It takes her the entire novel to figure out things that the reader can determine within the first 50 pages or so. Secondary characters are all but shaking her and yelling, “You’re a werewolf!” and still she resists the obvious truth. One could argue that she is in denial, but to be in denial, Olivia must first address the possibility of being a werewolf and then reject it. However, it never even occurs to Olivia that she may be a wolf until she is actually conscious of turning into one!

These next few lines may be considered spoilers, if I felt that there was anything to spoil, but since the author all but spells out everything for her readers, just be assured that I’m not telling you anything that you wouldn’t be able to figure out on your own just by reading the first half of this novel. For example, Olivia looks nothing like her parents, but there is a strange man in town who, like her, has red hair and green eyes. Hmmmmm. All the victims of the full moon murders are the fathers of kids who wronged her in some way when she was growing up. Hmmmmm. Her best friend has become involved with a boy that he meets in a haunted house. Olivia has never met this boy, nor has anyone ever seen him before. Hmmmmm. There are “clues” sprinkled throughout the pages of this entire novel that Olivia fails to piece together until the very end. I kept waiting for there to be this huge twist, because everything just couldn’t be this transparent. I was wrong.

If there is one thing that the author did right with The Frenzy, it is that she created a main character that for once, isn’t physically perfect. Too many times I have read urban fantasy novels where the main character is a werewolf or a vampire and he or she is beautiful beyond measure and people cannot help but be drawn to them in some way. Olivia, however, is a pariah in her small town. Imagine being a teenage girl and you’re completely covered in hair. Regardless of her “monstrous” appearance, Olivia is still able to find love with a human boy, and I must admit the romance between them was very sweet, even if it bordered on the obsessive at times. If you have plans to read this book, don’t bother. It may be a quick read, but it is not worth the time.

Rating: 1/5 Stars

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