Friday, August 3, 2012

Lunatic Fringe by Allison Moon

Publisher:          Lunatic Ink

Lunatic Fringe is a werewolf story that almost gets lost in a long discussion of feminist politics and too many typographical mistakes.

Lexie Clarion leaves a small town to go to college and hopes to start a new life.  She’s been rather sheltered, so is impressed when a group of girls called the Pack take her in and cultivate her friendship.  When they turn out to be werewolf hunters, Lexie isn’t sure how to react to that.  This becomes a serious consideration when she meets Archer, a charismatic artist, who becomes her lover…..and is a werewolf.  The battle between the Pack and Archer for Lexie’s allegiance reveals bigotry, sexism and shadows from the past, including a secret in Lexie’s family.  An epic battle results in a decision by Lexie that will surprise the reader.

The basic story in this book is good, although a little confusing.  The characters draw a difference between Weres and Werewolves, but they seem to turn out to be the same people.  Once the story gets going however, things make more sense and the details are easier to follow.  It makes it clear that the line between the “good guys” and the “bad guys” can be very thin.  Lexie is a perplexing character, but that reflects the situation she finds herself in as she tries to determine exactly what her future is going to be.  Some of the characters are well developed, but there are a number of holes that needed filling with details.  The book has an open ended conclusion because it’s meant to be a series, but that isn’t very satisfying for a reader, especially one who decides not to read any further books. 

The book has two big drawbacks.  There are too many mistakes.  Words are missing, some are used incorrectly and others use archaic definitions that don’t really fit current usage.  More than once a paragraph had to be reread to try and figure out exactly what was being said.  This happens enough that it detracts from the reading and gives the book an unfinished feeling.  A good professional editor could have taken care of the problems to create a cleaner book.

An editor also would have cut out a lot of material.  Moon is an avowed feminist, which in itself isn’t a problem, but she can’t seem to make her point in a few sentences and then move on.  When the Pack first appears, a long diatribe begins about how women have been oppressed and men are the sole source of their problems.  The book gets bogged down in long political discussions that obscure the plot.  Although some of the ideas eventually become important to the characters, they go on for so long that some readers may be inclined to stop reading.  If you have to tell the reader something six times, then you aren’t being very clear.  It doesn’t help much when the Pack turns out to be composed of some of the most hypocritical characters in the book and, apparently, is only interested in killing male werewolves.  The idea that men are the source of all problems wears thin, especially in light of the behavior of the Pack.  There are holes in the story that a decent editor would have eliminated or made sure were filled in.

Allison Moon needs to make a decision.  Either write a political book to discuss her type of feminism or write fiction with just enough polemic to shade her characters, but not interfere with the story.  If she can find an editor to help with her weaknesses, Lunatic Fringe might turn out to be a mediocre start to a promising series.

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