I try to be selective when it comes to the books that I read. I don’t relish giving negative reviews and if I feel that a book isn’t to my taste, I stop reading it. I gave Werelove: Dusk Conspiracy my best try. I read about halfway through the book before admitting defeat and acknowledging that I had no desire to reach the conclusion. There are several reasons why I chose not to finish it, which I will divulge, but I hope that my criticism will not discourage the author, who was kind enough to send me a copy of her novel. I should point out that I am not this book’s intended audience. As I have said before in one of my previous reviews, to write a YA fantasy that is appealing to both preteens and adults is quite a feat and I don’t expect all authors to succeed. I do however expect a certain level of maturity in the writing. Werelove succeeds in its creative blending of Werelore and science fiction, but lacks the sophistication in writing style that I am accustomed to in adult fantasy novels.
One of the main issues I had with this novel was the main character. I found Layla to be extremely unlikable. She is part werewolf, part werepanther and lives in a home that feels much like a prison. Her caretakers act as her wardens and they enforce her father’s rules which are to keep Layla isolated from her peers and focused on her school work. Making friends, attending social events, and dating are a rite of passage that every teenage girl should experience. Rather than fight for her freedom or demand her independence, Layla is content to play the role of the victim. She meekly accepts all of her father’s wishes and relies on others to fight her battles for her. One could argue that Layla is docile because she is forced to take a serum twice a week to subdue her dual natures, but the serum doesn’t excuse her tendency to whine about her circumstances, give up when life proves to be too difficult, or hide from those who wish to bully or push her around. I didn’t finish the book, so there is a possibility that Layla finds her strength later in the novel, but I disliked her so much that I wasn’t willing to stick around and find out.
Another issue I had with this book was the dialogue. The conversations between the characters felt unnatural and forced. I found myself often wondering “is this something a 17 year old girl would say?” or “is this how a grown man would speak to a teenage girl?” I also started questioning certain character’s actions and reactions to many of the events that took place. I was shocked when Layla’s age was revealed because I assumed, based on how she interacted with others, that she was younger. One scene in particular that I found very difficult to swallow was when Donil, Layla’s love interest, was trying to help her escape to safety. The dialogue between the two was meant to be flirty, but it came out creepy instead. Layla is on the ground with a broken ankle, terrified and unsure where to turn, and Donil is insisting through telepathy that Layla should “move that cute body out of harms way.” He kept saying ‘Beautiful do this, and Beautiful climb that.’ Why is he hitting on her when he should be focused on keeping her alive?
I should also mention that I am not a fan of multiple first person narratives. The story is told in the third person, but each chapter starts with a different point of view. My limit for first person narratives is three. Any more than three and I start to skim. This is a personal preference and not a criticism. While this book is not to my taste, others will appreciate the creativity that went into it. I’m always looking for books that take a popular theme, in this case werelore/werelove, and mold it something shiny and new. There aren’t too many books out there that explore the possibility of Werehybrids, nor are there many books that mix elements of science fiction and urban fantasy. The ideas in this book are strong but the execution needs improvement.
Rating: 2/5 Stars