When a pack of lycanthropes kidnap his girlfriend, a teenage nerd/newbie werewolf must harness his newfound superpowers to save her life. Cody Forester plans to become a doctor. Instead, he becomes a werewolf. The first time Cody shows fang and fur, his parents ship him off to live with his black sheep uncle. His revised career choice is social hermit. As the new kid, he makes more enemies than friends. His high school teachers label him a troublemaker. The whole town hates him. Except Brittany. She's beautiful, with her eyes painted black and her lips dark purple. When Brittany discovers his secret, she tries to cure him using crystals, candles, and magic potions. Cody falls head-over-tails in love, but he can never tell her. Girls like her aren't for him. He's the amazing wolf boy. Astound your family and mystify your friends. While Cody moons over Brittany, a murderous pack of lycanthropes howl into town. They want Cody to join them. When he refuses, they kidnap Brittany and threaten to kill her at moonrise. Cody must master his untried superpowers or the girl he loves dies. Can he defeat the pack and save both their lives?
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A sympathetic protagonist & sweet love story make this YA Fantasy shine.
Source: I received this book for free from the author. My opinions are my own.
BOOK DETAILS: The Amazing Wolf Boy by Roxanne Smolen, read by Danny Randerson, published 2016 / Length: 10 hrs 13 min
SERIES INFO: This is Book #1 of 4 in the "Amazing Wolf Boy" series. So far it is the only one on audio.
SUMMARY: Although there were a number of things I didn't like in this book (it starts off with one of my most disliked tropes, see below), I was nevertheless drawn in from the beginning and really enjoyed it. It was well written, with characters I liked, and I especially enjoyed the realistic progression of the teenage romance. I am looking forward to when the next book becomes available on audio.
CHARACTERS: Cody: He is a good kid (he even looks away when Brittany's skirt rides up). But he isn't perfect; for example, he had occasionally sent new students at his old school to the wrong place as a prank.
I wish that the book hadn't gone the too typical route of given him special abilities that few/no other werewolves have. I think I would have been OK with it, if it had been pointed out that he could only do these things because nobody told him he couldn't (i.e. a result of him being kept in the dark so long).
Brittany: She leans towards goth in her clothing, but without the stereotypical (in fiction at least) interest in dark kinds of things. Her New Age interests seem to be firmly in a positive vein.
I liked her family. Her single mother has to work 2 jobs, but does her best to be sure her kids have a good dinner and "family time."
Cody & Brittany: Their relationship begins with a very real world sort of InstaLove. The kind were a guy sees a girl and is instantly intrigued & seeks out opportunities to be closer to her and get to know her better. From there things proceed very much like real relationships I actually witnessed in High School. There is also mention that wolves mate for life, and his being sure she is his mate, but it isn't presented as a mystical bond they have no choice about.
-- I could have done without the jocks = bullies characters. But, I really like that the gym/football coach is one of the people who are nice to him, and that he see's his players clearly and is willing to do the right thing. / I would have liked a few more females in larger roles.
WORLDBUILDING: The book takes place in small town Florida. Shifters are real (obviously), but no other supernatural creatures are mentioned. One of the main side characters is Native American, and there are a couple of sections that discuss their remedies & beliefs. I don't know how accurate they are. There are also sections regarding New Age & tarot subjects that were consistent with what I've read in other books.
PLOT: The beginning was particularly well done. I was able to immediately connect emotionally with his horror at what was happening to him. And the descriptions of all the sensory input was good.
The secrets were drawn out way too long, however. Since they were obvious to the reader, it made it extra frustrating.
There was a complete ending with no major threads left dangling.
HIGHLIGHTS: --Brittany's opinion on tattoos --The Valentine's Day dinner --The scene where he is very upset and the unknown other wolf flips him a fish.
I COULD HAVE DONE WITHOUT: Parents who keep secrets, fail to prepare their child for potential life altering changes, and emotionally abandon said child. (I've actually written a post on how much I dislike this trope.) / A really brutal bullying scene involving a severe assault / The nudist colony and everything involved with it. / The constant repetition of Brittany's nickname for her brother, it ceased being funny really quickly on audio.
CONTENT NOTES(?): This is a book about a teenage boy in love. There are a couple of comments about the fact that his body responds to her, but they are all very tastefully done. / Werewolves returning to human shape are naked, which leads to some awkwardness.
NARRATION: Character voices differentiated = Yes / Opposite sex voices acceptable = Yes, not very feminine but not fakey / Accents = Good. I have no idea how authentic they were though. / Phrasing, Pacing & Pronunciation = Good. / Emoting = Good. I like the way he avoided going over the top yet still captured what Cody was feeling. / Speed = Slow. I listened on 1.5, rather than my usual 1.25 (although that was a touch fast)
“The Amazing Wolf Boy” is an exciting and impressively-constructed werewolf tale for teenagers, a kind of supernatural, coming-of-age tale in other words. I especially recommend this one for fans of underdogs (wolves?). Originally published in 2011 but only now made available as an audiobook, this smart, suspenseful young adult novel has proved that it has real staying power. “Wolf Boy” is just the first in a series of four novels following the adventures of its titular hero, Cody “just-your-average-teen” Forrester and his smart and sexy girlfriend, Brittany. Currently, all four Cody & Brittany adventures are available as a box set, but so far only this one is available as an audiobook. The story is bolstered by the choice of narrators, longtime theater veteran, Danny Randerson, who hits all the right notes and turns in an outstanding performance.
Other than a few “bad words,” I see nothing preventing me from recommending this book for long, family road trips. The young-romance elements, for example, are heartwarmingly cute and charming rather than dripping with saccharine or, worse, edging into uncomfortable vulgarity. The book does contain violence, but the vast majority is of the comic book variety, exciting and colorfully rendered, but unlikely to traumatize teenage listeners. Still, as the story progresses, be prepared for a bit more realistic portrayals, but such scenes, I would argue, are dramatically necessary and lend unexpected gravity to the proceedings.
Ultimately, the tone of the novel may be somewhat grittier than one might expect from children’s literature. Readers may be reminded of Robert Cormier’s “The Chocolate War” and the way it exposes the ugliness of high school bullying. Steven Gould’s original “Jumper” novel, about an underdog who gains extraordinary powers, might also come to mind. Yet, “Wolf Boy” departs from such direct comparisons in the long run by depicting young characters who are less abandoned, more empowered, and as a result, less fragile. As the new kid in a small-town high school, Cody struggles with considerable challenges and obstacles, and here the book shines, allowing readers to experience the vicarious thrill of unleashing super strength and dexterity upon heartless bullies. In this way, the novel practically vibrates with the delicious intensity of wish-fulfillment, yet it avoids devolving into an unchecked revenge fantasy as Cody learns the value of taking the high road. This line between reckless revenge and wise restraint is a thin one, but somehow author Roxanne Smolen manages to make walking it look easy.
If this is your first encounter with the author’s work, it may interest you to know that her background is fairly inspiring, and she has had to overcome quite a few substantial obstacles in life, including physical setbacks that would cause many to give up. Smolen has persevered, however, and this goes a long way towards explaining the wisdom and joy inherent in her books.