A spellbinding and darkly humorous coming-of-age story about an unusual boy whose family lives on the fringe of society and struggles to survive in a hostile world that shuns and fears them.
He was born an outsider, like the rest of his family. Poor yet resilient, he lives in the shadows with his aunt Libby and uncle Darren, folk who stubbornly make their way in a society that does not understand or want them. They are mongrels, mixed blood, neither this nor that.
The boy at the center of Mongrels must decide if he belongs on the road with his aunt and uncle or if he fits with the people on the other side of the tracks. For 10 years he and his family have lived a life of late-night exits and narrow escapes - always on the move across the South to stay one step ahead of the law. But the time is drawing near when Darren and Libby will finally know if their nephew is like them or not. And the close calls they've been running from for so long are catching up fast now. Everything is about to change.
A compelling and fascinating journey, Mongrels alternates between past and present to create an unforgettable portrait of a boy trying to understand his family and his place in a complex and unforgiving world. A smart and innovative story - funny, bloody, raw, and real - told in a rhythmic voice full of heart, Mongrels is a deeply moving, sometimes grisly novel that illuminates the challenges and tender joys of a life beyond the ordinary in a bold and imaginative new way.
©2016 Stephen Graham Jones (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers
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Mongrels breathes new life into werewolves in fiction. Stepehen Graham Jones sets a story in a real world with seemingly real people and real life situations. By the end of the book, I began thinking of werewolves as more plausible than bigfoot to some degree. I think what has been lacking in werewolf related fiction is werewolves that fit into the real world. Mongrels is the Salem's Lot of werewolf fiction, sits perched at the top of the heap and worthy of Stoker consideration.
Graham is a hard author to put into a category, but I think experimental is a good fit. Mogrels , for instance, doesn't have a traditional plotline where the protagonist has a big happening early in the book that sets the stage for the rest of the book. Instead, the entire "plot" follows a young man and his family (aunt and uncle who are werewolves) as the young man comes of age. There really is not an overreaching event, but several vignettes of places and happenings of a wandering nomadic family of werewolves. The formatting and approach of the book aren't a hindrance but effectively keeps the reader engaged moving from one place and event the next.
Where the book really shines is the way Jones is able to make the characters believable. If there were really werewolves, how would they have to live? Well, werewolves are creatures of rage and hard to control and couldn't live within society's center, but at its edges. Vagabonds, hobos, homeless or transient folks, in general, would be where they'd exist. They'd live a life of poverty , of suspicion and anxiety. That's exactly what the author highlights in this book. I happen to have lived a life of poverty growing up and a lot of the things these characters do, just to survive and deal with crappy cars, doing morally questionable things and moving over and over again ring true with me.
The characters are very realistic even though they are werewolves if you grew up like I did you know a guy like Darren and you probably knew a woman like Libby and probably had a storytelling grandpa as well. Darren is a clearly flawed individual, even perhaps among werewolves but deep down has a heart of gold. Libby is the loving mother hen, that might rip your face off. Many families have secrets, this one is no different and that's a large part of the story.
Another great aspect is that while the base of Stephen Graham Jones' werewolves is set with the traditional werewolf, he has created a new mythos and lore for werewolves. Where did they come from? How do they breed? Consideration for what they eat while in wolf form and what happens if it's still there when they turn back to human is well covered.
The narration is also very good, but not quite as good as the prose. The narration was done by Chris Patton and Jonathan Yen, I'm no sure which one is doing each part. Patton is a veteran of over a hundred audiobook credits, including other horror greats such as Clive Barker's "Books of Blood" and Poppy Z Brite's "Lost Souls". Jonathan Yen also has many credits but I'm not familiar with any of his previous work. I believe that Patton is narrating the present story line , while Yen is narrating the chapters with that take place in the past.
Audiobook was purchased for review by ABR.
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I live to ride my bike.
I expected a totally werewolf story. These people live more like gypsies. They are moving to different locations based upon the killing in their area. The family, which is a aunt, uncle and nephew live with an intense desire to be normal. For the boy to find a replacement of for his grandfather. The lack of action made this an unappealing read for me.
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