Packed off to summer camp while her parents get divorced, Rylie is determined to see it through and hope for the best- until that one night where it all changes and she's attacked by something she can't identify. Almost immediately she notices herself changing both physically and psychologically, yet as understanding blooms she doesn't understand how she survived the attack. An enigmatic boy at the camp, Seth, has the answers she seeks and offers to help her, but as the summer wanes and the wolf in her grows stronger, Rylie fights to maintain her self-control and hopes for a cure even as she searches for clues about the one who did this to her.
What's Good: The premise is intriguing- going from being a nobody to a monster and all things that happen in between. Rylie's teen angsting about her parent's divorce is what you'd expect. There's also some good secondary characters- I especially liked Louise, one of the camp counselors. I actually had more empathy for her than Rylie.
What's Bad: The MarySue/Speshul Snoflakiness of it all. At the wise old age of fifteen Rylie wants nothing more than to spend the summer in the art district of this nameless city sipping chai tea in coffee shops while reading and going to exhibits and summer festivals, just like the typical teenage girl she's supposed to be. Oh, and she doesn't have any female friends because they're too catty yet wonders if all her male buddies' girlfriends hate her because she's blonde and slender. Any of this sounding familiar, yet?
For someone who's life's been destroyed by becoming a legendary monster, Rylie's pretty blasé about it. It's all "Dear Diary: Mean girls at camp are bothering me... met a cute boy by the lake... I'm a werewolf now." Her biggest concern about it is her distaste for her insatiable cravings for meat, what with being a vegetarian. At least until the fateful night when she rips apart a fawn, then she has an emotional breakdown. She's actually more upset about eating Bambi than becoming a rampaging monster that'll want to slaughter things to begin with. But hey, we got veggie vampires nowadays so why not tofu werewolves? Plus the mysterious yet cute boy she meets knows a whole lot about what's happening to her yet she barely bothers to ask him more than a couple of questions at a time. And some of his answers don't make a lot of sense. When Rylie asks Seth what's happening to her, he responds, "The new & full moons are different. You change on the new moon because it makes the human weak, so the wolf emerges. On the full moon the wolf becomes strong. It dominates you." You kinda see what the author's trying to get at, but it doesn't come across very well. Like a friend of mine said: Heads, I win; Tails, you lose.
The mystery of the identities of the werewolves attacking the camp is nothing special. One's a bit of a surprise and the other one isn't, but what makes it bad is the ham-handedness of the whole situation. Rylie has questions (naturally) and is clearly a danger to herself and everyone else during her furry nights, yet the alpha wolf who bit her lets her flounder until the climax of the story. And their actions and motives are ridiculous- without going too far into it, how does this individual expect to keep the massacre of an entire summer camp secret? The second person's identity discloses more ridiculous plot holes: they've been a werewolf for a year yet apparently still lives in the city. Clearly this person was brought into the fold immediately but again, why wasn't Rylie? And how has this person been managing on their wild nights and why can't Rylie do the same?
And speaking of 'the city'... Wondering why I called it that? Because everyone in the book does. Rylie, Louise, Cassidy, Amber- everyone comes from 'the city'. The summer camp has a name, the mountain is located on has a name as do the river and lake around the camp, but the city, county and state they're all in don't, even though 'the city' has a North End and East Side with an art district.
The final showdown is a cartoon. Werewolves in human form can heal at an amazing rate- Rylie breaks her ankle yet it's well enough in a matter of moments for her to run full tilt along a mountain trail. Somehow none of this translates onto any other werewolves but her: in the final battle Rylie gets her throat ripped out but can keep on fighting since she's young and strong, which enables her to eviscerate her opponent- alpha were described as the size of a horse- to the point that he's on the verge of bleeding out. Really.
What's Left: There's flashes of good storytelling, especially the little insights into Rylie psyche before and after her transformations, but they're scattered and almost lost in all the MarySue-ism and silliness. Too many parts of the story feel slapped together because too much space is wasted showing how speshul Rylie is to help justify her being chosen becoming a werewolf in the first place. Which didn't make any sense, either.
A couple of minor twists in the story will keep you entertained but all the fudging to keep our girl the centerpiece of the story drags it all down.
The romance between Rylie and Seth is forced. Rylie knows he knows more than he's letting on yet she never asks him more than a couple of questions at a time- she's too preoccupied with flirting with him to remember why they're sneaking her away from camp during full moons.
There's a good premise here but it's bogged down by some absolute nonsense. The old adage of keeping it simple applies here, and simply put the series needs to be what it says it is: the story of a girl who gets turned into a werewolf.