Monday, March 5, 2012

Review: The Wolf Gift

The Wolf Gift
The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Minor note: The cover.... what the hell is going on with it? When I brought it home I teased with my husband that it looked like one of those self-published covers that has a generic picture and solid block coloring and a title. Plus, the wolf pictured on the cover doesn't jive with how the Man Wolves are described in her story. They are clearly described as maintaining their own distinct human eyes which makes them very shockingly not like regular wolves. Just confused why that wouldn't be more important since the cover should correlate to the actual novel's descriptions. Okay, now the review....

I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked up this book, given it's mixed reviews. Maybe a little more slanted towards the negative, in actuality. I was going into it with an open mind, and hoping that it delivered that Anne Rice I was fell in love with reading years ago.

Some stories drag you away slowly from your everyday life, they capture your dreams and ideals of a perfect world, in which you can feel the emotion and atmosphere flowing out of the story and into your own head. You become one with the book, and you don't want to put it down because it feels too good to not live inside it's own little world. I started feeling like this when I picked up the book, but sadly, as I read on, I just started feeling like I was not inside the story, but outside, reading about one's perfect, and completely unrealistic fairy tale. A great book brings you in, and suspends any disbelief you may have about the situations, like feeling that it's completely logical to expect to meet vampires, or werewolves along your city or forest travels.

Some aspects that immediately made it a bit harder for me to get invested in this story is that it's hard, for me, to relate to a 23 year old guy named Reuben that drives a Porche and has trust funds, and is immediately contemplating purchasing an immensely stately mansion. He grew up in a great house in San Francisco with a scatterbrained professor of a father, and a determined surgeon of a mother. Can everyone else relate to that? Well, maybe if the characters are written very well and you are forced to relate to them because you cannot not become involved with them.

I loved the concept of the werewolves in this story. I just didn't feel like I connected to the characters, nor did I believe that the characters could actually not come through in every endeavor they attempted. Every character in this story just had too much money, and enough connections that I didn't believe there were any true challenges for the characters to overcome. Take for example, Reuben has as much money as he needs, and a huge mansion in the forest/hills to retreat to after every attack. When he wants to take his Porche for a drive to "hide out" in any motel he wants to, he does. He gets every woman he attempts to get, and his current girlfriend is so down with Rueben that she's comfortable that he slept with Marchent the first night he went away for his Nideck Pointe story, plus she's very comfortable in just letting Reuben text his breakup after he sleeps with another woman he finds in the forest. I suppose that's because although she loves Reuben dearly, she just doesn't love him enough to not sleep with his best friend Mort and split up with Reuben and stay friends. Luckily, she's a up-and-coming hot shot lawyer who's smart as hell so she doesn't need his trust funds and mansion.

My largest complaint with this story, is that it ended up just being lackluster in it's execution. I found myself realizing I could have put it down and probably forgotten about the characters because I didn't end up believing in them during the novel. Even the boy, Stuart, that Reuben accidentally turns into a werewolf after rescuing him after a gay-bash attack, is a 16 year old whiz that already graduated, and grew up wealthy, and is famous for going after his Catholic high school for not allowing him to take his boyfriend to the prom. Is there anyone that doesn't make 6 figures, drive a Mercedes, Jaguar, or Porche (yes, fine, I know, you're saying Jim, Reuben's older brother and religious viewpoint of the story, because he's a priest who gave up his trust funds and Mercedes to relate to the poor more easily) and just have life come easy to them while they figure out what the heck they want to do with their lives? Ah, to just waste away my days enjoying gourmet meals, ordering anything I might need on a whim (flatscreens, orchid trees, Bose boomboxes, iMacs, everything and anything), while doing anything I want and pretending to be in so much dilemma.

The characters are just not realistic. They sound like the writing of someone who has never had to work a day in their life and thinks everyone's biggest quandary is whether mom will be upset we spent our trustfund on this new mansion we visited and suddenly cannot live without. I really wanted to love this story, but there's not enough grit within this beautiful story to make me feel like these are real people that I care about making it. Everyone always gets what they want in this book, with really no consequence. It's hard to feel emotion for people that do whatever they want, and get whatever they want. It's so tidy there's nothing for them to truly overcome. That's probably the best way to put it, right there. Even in the end scene, with Felix & Thibault, they just wrap everything up with the evil doctors and the sheriff and it gives us as the readers, absolutely nothing to root for. We know it'll be perfect. Reuben gets everything he wants, always.

Were the Vampire Chronicles this tidy and unrealistic, but I was just too young and idealistic to realize this? I'm not sure, it's been so many years I'm now not sure if this is how Rice always wrote, or her writing is just too simplistic and unrealistic in it's attempt to get me as a reader, to believe in it. She still writes in a beautiful flow, and makes everything seem dreamy. But even my dreams have more substance of reality wrapped up in their fantasy.

I saw one reviewer state that they thought this was a very prudish Anne Rice. I wasn't sure I agreed with that at first, but I do feel like, in contrast to her previous novels, this definitely is prudish for Rice. She's normally unabashedly descriptive in the sexual encounters, but this time she sets them up, then switches scenes so nothing really happens. She does spend more time describing the violence the Man Wolf dishes out, and how much he relishes eating humans and sucking the marrow out of their bones, than showing any inclination towards descriptive lovemaking. Maybe there really is a huge difference in her writing this time around.

In the end, I read it, it was a great concept, but it was delivered in a manner which was just not exciting, or enveloping enough for me to love it, or believe in it.

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