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Me on Books

Me on Books features reviews of young adult novels, the occasional middle grade or graphic novel, and promotes Canadian young adult authors as much as possible. :)

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For Darkness Shows the Stars
Diana Peterfreund
Perfect Ruin
Lauren DeStefano

Under My Skin

Under My Skin - Charles de Lint For the past six months, something strange has been happening to the young people of Santa Feliz. Week after week, there are reports of teens transforming into wild animals. Josh has seen the news, but he's totally unprepared when it happens to him, when one moment he's arguing with his mother's boyfriend and the next standing over him with bloody claws. Trusting on his friends Marina and Desmond, he tries to return to a normal life, but an encounter with a few more Wildlings and an accidental betrayal shatter his carefully constructed cover story. His friends are forced to trust other Wildings, and themselves, in order to save Josh.Under My Skin is action-packed and thrilling, never once stopping to let the reader take a full breath before jumping right back into the story. I almost feel bad, saying that this is my first foray into Charles de Lint's writing, but everything was crafted perfectly. The setting, the characters, the fantasy world-building, all of it was amazing.The book starts off so quickly with just a little bit of background info before Josh is standing over his mother's jerk of a boyfriend after transforming into a mountain lion and clawing him. Everything was fast-paced, and everything felt so immediate, like there was no time to stop and think about what just happened. There were small moments for Josh to try and catch his breath, to hopefully understand how he needed to hide to survive, and then something else would pop up and amp up the speed of the book.What isn't said in the summary is that the book changes narrators, that it goes back and forth between Josh and Marina. There were a few times when it changed from a Josh chapter to a Marina chapter and I didn't notice, but it's possible that's because I got so caught up in the story. Of course, it might also have something to do with the fact that Josh and Marina felt so similar in my mind.There have been a lot of novels just focusing on werewolves, but I found this to be a welcome change, an intriguing twists on shapeshifters and skinwalkers. The whole book had a Native American/First Nations (if you're from Canada) feel to it that I enjoyed. It's possible that I don't read a lot of books that draw on those kinds of stories, myths about coyotes and ravens, but I think I'd like to read more.What was rather important in this book was the reaction the general public got to the teens suddenly turning into wild animals. It was important because it was the reaction that should've occurred. The fear, the distrust, the government stepping in thinking they know what's best, all of those things can be seen as a wider observation of the world in general, of the prejudices people have against those who look different or believe in different things. Human beings have this fear of the unknown and the strange, of what they don't understand, and in this book, it's only right that most of the general public would fear the Wildlings. I'm not saying it's right, just that it was what I expected. Of course, if the world was more open to change, perhaps this wouldn't have been the expected reaction. Why fear them when they had no control over the transformation?The California setting and the different ethnicities of the characters added so much depth and life to the story. It felt so real, and the voices of Josh and Marina and everyone else felt so authentically teenager. This book is like a coming-of-age story, only instead it's more like the transformation of Josh into a mountain lion as the metaphor for the young boy coming into adulthood story. Shapeshifters, mystery and intrigue, government agents, real life or death consequences, this book was wonderful rough and gritty YA urban fantasy.