Reader friends, I actually still really like paranormal books even though the trend is over. While I tend more toward vampires than werewolves, I still love reading books about paranormal creatures that live right under our noses. I came into Unleashed by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguié with a few expectations — namely that it would be an absorbing, darkly romantic sort of read. Unfortunately, Unleashed failed to deliver on that front, which is unfortunate because I really liked the previous book I had read by this author duo, Crusade.
Katelyn McBride’s mother dies during an earthquake. Katelyn is then uprooted from everything she knows in LA and sent to live with her grandfather in Wolf Springs, Arkansas, right by the Ozark Mountains. It’s kind of culture shock for her. However, Wolf Springs isn’t quite so bad and isolated as it seems. She even manages to make friends with this Russian guy who goes by Trick and a girl named Cordelia, who also has a lot on her plate. Yet, there’s something strange about Katelyn’s new digs. She’s not even allowed to go outside when it’s dark out. Turns out, Wolf Springs is a town of many secrets. Chances are that you as the reader can easily guess the secrets as it shows you right on the cover and also you can infer it from the name of the town. While the plot summary of Unleashed is interesting, it’s a rather long and drawn out book that upon closing left me feeling as though nothing had really happened.
Unfortunately Katelyn is not a very compelling heroine. When the book opens, she’s actually quite interesting, so much so that it seems like her potential was squandered. At the beginning of Unleashed, Katelyn is a gymnast and she’s very dedicated to her sport and to excelling. I was excited by the prospect of a character with a hobby. Yet, when she goes to Wolf Springs, we do not hear another word about Katelyn’s sport. Instead, she mopes about living with her grandfather in the middle of nowhere which is understandable. Then she spends an awful lot of time trying to figure out why she can’t go out at night. Also, Katelyn ends up in a love triangle of course. Rather than being swoon worthy, it’s all kind of boring. It felt like ground that’s already been tread with nothing new or interesting added. As a reader, I was not invested or engaged by Katelyn as a character.
As one would expect, Wolf Springs is a lupine obsessed town. The school’s mascot is the wolf. In fact, in the school there are actually stained glass windows that depict wolves, which is kind of interesting. Further, some of the town folklore focuses on this creature called a Hellhound. Yet, whenever Katelyn tries to get more information on the Hellhound, she ends up getting the brush off. I liked how the lore was woven into the store, but I wish that it was less shallow. It is done in a pretty superficial way and it seems like we never really get to explore Wolf Springs’ deep dark secrets aside from the various girl being eaten by wolves (this happens twice in Unleashed).
On the upside, I was unable to tell where Nancy Holder’s writing ended and Debbie Viguié’s began and vice versa. That is probably the only positive thing I can say about the writing style. The dialogue in Unleashed comes across as very stilted. I thought the interactions between Cordelia and Katelyn were painful to read, even though the two are friends. The pacing of the book really drags. This young adult book took me forever to read and usually I am the type who happily gobbles up paranormal reads. I just feel that the interesting elements were muddled in a story that basically went nowhere.
If I am being honest, I probably would not recommend Unleashed. It’s not very exciting. The romance is boring. The characters are uninteresting. There are definitely better paranormal young adult books out there.
Disclosure: Received for review via Amazon Vine
Other reviews of Unleashed by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguié:
Feeling Fictional – “I did feel that it was a little slow getting to the supernatural part of the story”
Xpresso Reads – “I didn’t feel any sort of chemistry between the characters”
Reading Teen – “Ok. I loved this book.”