Jamie Collins's Reviews > Benighted

Benighted by Kit Whitfield
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's review
May 25, 2008

liked it
bookshelves: fantasy-urban
Recommended to Jamie by: Julie

This book supposes a world where more than 99% of the population are lycanthropes, who transform into wild, unthinking beasts for a single night every month. The tiny minority of non-lycanthropes are drafted into an organization that polices the rest of the population. The "nons" spend that night hunting down those who violate the law by not locking themselves safely away. The protagonist is a "non", and the book is not so much about werewolves as it is about her life experience as a member of this minority group.

It's a interesting premise, and I enjoyed the book, but it has some serious flaws. The police organization run by the "nons" seems illogical. They serve a critical function in this society, yet they're poorly paid, foolishly restricted in their methods and dangerously untrained. But incongruently, they have an amazing amount of power over any "lyco" who has broken the law, or who they even suspect to have broken the law. They're able and willing to imprison them indefinitely without legal advice while torturing them for information. It's a strange mix of oppression and power.

The writing is awkward in some places and quite good in others. At the fifty page mark I was underwhelmed, but the story improved when Paul the social worker was introduced, and it got downright riveting as the book progressed.

A little technical detail in the right places can really add to the realism of a book, and I think the author skimped on her research. Most of the discourse on what causes someone to be born a "non" is weak, as is the scene where the protagonist asks a friend to examine a car that she suspects has been sabotaged.
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Reading Progress

May 25, 2008 – Shelved
Started Reading
June 4, 2008 – Shelved as: fantasy-urban
June 4, 2008 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Julie I'm interested to see if you like this one. It's a strange, compelling, bitter book, maybe with more in common with mysteries than fantasy.

Julie I do think that the "barebacks" should actually be able to take over the world. That seems like it would be the end result of the society as built.

I found the book intensely depressing, really.

Jamie Collins I didn't find it depressing, but it's that kind of frustrating book that is almost really good. Where I find myself thinking that if the author had taken a slightly different approach, I would have loved it. I'll definitely keep an eye out for her next book.

message 4: by Miriam (new)

Miriam I like the writing but the whole scenario is just not convincing to me.

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