KJ Carson arrives at the surface of the puberty pool pretty much unscathed. But between her tense relationship with her father, the arrival of Virgil- a shaggy haired city slicker and his hippie mother Eloise, and the town’s hysteria over whether or not the wolves in Yellowstone park should be hunted- her small world in her small town are growing more and more complicated.
The characters in this book are wonderfully flawed and believable. KJ is not some over confident smart ass like we often see in YA lit. She has her own set of insecurities, including a constant fear of never succeeding at anything or living up to who her father wants her to be. Virgil isn’t a ripped Abercrombie model come to sweep her off her feet. He’s a ‘real’ sixteen year old boy and a genuinely ‘good’ character, which is rare.
I love how we observe KJ develop over time. She grows a backbone and succeeds in creating change in a place where things seem like they’re stuck in a time capsule. Chandler also does a great job of showing us both sides of the story so that there’s no distinct ‘villain’, but a situation that escalates and leaves everyone the victim in some way.
What immediately drew me to this book was its title and cover art. ‘Wolves, Boys & Other Things That Might Kill Me’ Awesome, awesome title and flashy cover art.
However, everything you see when you pick up the book (even the back excerpt) plays on the popularity of paranormal stories about werewolves and vampires when it has absolutely nothing to do with either. It gives the impression that we’re in for suspenseful and dark YA when it’s really a humorous mainstream middle grade novel.
The book is written entirely in present tense, which I found a bit disconcerting but eventually got used to. And many of the secondary characters could have done with more physical description. The only characters I found really well described were Virgil and his mother Eloise. I had to let my imagination do the work for the rest, even for the main character KJ.
I stress the point that this book should be considered middle grade. The dialogue and action were anything but edgy, with ‘Holy Smack’ being about as bad as it gets. I was able to put it down but still thought about the characters and the story. All in all, I found this book really ‘cute’ and would recommend it for kids eleven and up or people who enjoy middle grade in general.
Hope this helps!