Frederick Brooke's Reviews > I Am Wolf

I Am Wolf by Joann Buchanan
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's review
Aug 03, 2012

it was amazing
Read from August 04 to 07, 2012

Jonah Greywolf, aged 16, arrives in a small town in Oregon on the bus, furious at his parents for giving up on him and banishing him to his grandparents’ house in the middle of nowhere. Little does he know, the move is actually part of a grand plan. Jonah has been born into a clan of Native Americans who have been given a sacred duty by the Great Spirit.

Jonah makes friends with local boys Daniel, Dakota and Utah, and the dialogue going back and forth between these guys is just priceless. The banter, the insults, the shoving and fighting, and ultimately the bond of friendship is in fact more like what you see between blood brothers—or a wolf pack—and these are so well done in this book. The author, Joann Buchanan, makes it look easy. I marvelled at the way my emotional investment in Jonah and the other characters ramped up as the book moved along.

Surprises abound in I Am Wolf. Moonshine-brewing, putrid-smelling Ralph, who lives outside of town in a shack and becomes fixated on killing the white wolf he has seen, provides no end of surprises. Ralph’s confrontation with Jonah and his gang goes from resembling one of those hillbilly feuds to something much more profound. In the meantime we meet Ralph’s special friend, Gracie. The dialogues between these two had me in stitches laughing, and at the same time shaking my head in wonder. You’ll see what I mean. Then there’s the way Ralph always refers to his ex as „ball-and-shackles“ and his abandoned daughter as „flesh-of-my-flesh“—when you’re not bursting out laughing, it literally makes your skin crawl. Friends, this is not merely good writing; this is more than just a lucky riff. I Am Wolf is a masterpiece of YA fantasy—self-assured, wildly imaginative, at times hilarious, also terrifying.

The earth balance is described in I Am Wolf in a hundred different ways, and there is philosophy here. Can the power of love counteract the horror in the world? What is the meaning of time? Where do we really go in our dreams? I don’t know of any questions more relevant than these, in the messed-up world we have made for ourselves today. Think about the recent massacres in a Colorado movie theater and in Wisconsin. If such questions interest you, read I Am Wolf.

The horror elements in I Am Wolf are absolutely on a par with the best Stephen King novels, such as The Stand, or Desperation, or Insomnia, some of my own favorites. But there is so much more to I Am Wolf! The characters are so much more than real. I LOVE Jonah and Alaynee and Jeanne and Cara, just as if they were real people. Ralph is a creation that ranks up there with any first-rate villain in recent memory. The undercurrent of Native American beliefs and descriptions of their rituals are a thing of beauty and are essential to these characters and their story. I Am Wolf is a stunning achievement, worthy of a place on bookshelves everywhere. Moving, awe-inspiring, thought-provoking, this book is truly extraordinary.
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Reading Progress

08/05/2012 page 100
33.0% "All I can say is WOW! This story is spellbinding, and I am in the hands of a master storyteller here."

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message 1: by Joann (new)

Joann Buchanan Thank you soooo much!!! Huge hugs!!

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