Friday, September 26, 2008

Bite Me -- or Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow

I admit to a weakness for vampire and, more recently, werewolf fiction. I especially love the Southern Vampire Series by Charlaine Harris (first book: Dead Until Dark) and the Betsy books by Mary Janice Davidson (first book: Undead and Unwed).

A new title caught my eye at the library last week. Sharp Teeth, by Toby Barlow. I loved the cover, red with a black snarling dog silhouette. Nick Hornby had a quote on the back -- love his books, so was likely to like this one. Until I started reading it, I didn't realize it was written in Free Verse. Yikes! this took me back to High School and all those ancient Greek stories and plays. I was stuck on the plane with no other book in sight, so I dove in. It was amazing.

The free verse gave it a cadence that matched the momentum of the story. It's lyrical and the form allows Barlow to use his words to almost paint pictures. I often 'see' a book when I'm reading it. This one felt like a full blown movie -- with a sound track. It's essentially well written suspense/crime novel that focuses on men (and a few women) who can change into werewolves at will. When in wolf form they can pass as dogs. They recruit other people who are "strong and lost" to join their packs. For fun, they blow off steam out in the desert in wolf form, munching on steak they bring in coolers.

Anthony is a down on his luck LA native who ends up with a job as a dog catcher. He falls in love with a female werewolf who's left her pack and determined to keep the other wolves from outing her. The packs in LA range from one run by a lawyer to one run by thugs and a third by surfers. The dogs and men play cards, break up meth labs, run scams and take over the dog pound. One is adopted in dog form and uses his new home as a safe-house to hide from the other dogs. A dedicated cop gets drawn in and has a hard time believing what he's seeing, even after it's clear what these people actually are. No matter how I try to describe it, I can't do this justice.

There is a great New York Times Book Review by Sam Anderson here: http://nymag.com/arts/books/reviews/43564/. Let me know if you read the book and what you think!

1 comment:

alli-lou said...

Oh my goodness, you MUST read the Twilight series!!! Even if they are originally meant for teenage girls; they are so so awesome. Also, Josh and I've been watching the HBO show True Blood, which is the TV version of the Sookie Stackhouse books!!!

Can't wait to see you in a couple weeks :)