Don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m heartily sick of vampires (except for bottle-blonds named Spike), and I can take or leave zombies. So it’s nice to see werewolves – shamefully and inexplicably overlooked in recent years – get some media time. I think it’s high time the werewolf had a pop culture comeback.
Unfortunately, The Werewolf’s Guide to Life isn’t going to be the book that sets this comeback in motion. It’s an amusing and entertaining attempt to recast certain aspects of the werewolf legends, but ultimately it just doesn’t pack much punch.
Subtitled “A manual for the newly bitten”, The Werewolf’s Guide to Life is just that – a guide for a werewolf “newbie” who’s unsure of what will happen at the next full moon. The book takes on the tone of an instruction manual, with a bit of self-help thrown in, and while the tone is successful overall it does make for slightly dry reading in the first 40 pages.
Things pick up once the book gets past the “coming to accept that you’re a werewolf” section and into the nuts-and-bolts of how one deals with becoming a ravenous monster three nights out of the month. It’s here that the Guide shines, pointing out the obvious (apartment living isn’t ideal because a fellow apartment dweller is bound to hear your noisy transformation and subsequent howls) and the not-so-obvious (the exurbs make a good living place because most of them have big box stores where you’ll need to stock up on restraint materials and enough meat to satisfy your lycanthrope hunger). Probably the funniest chapter is the one dealing with the always fractious relationships between werewolves and vampires (or as the book calls them, “the smug, effeminate undead”).
Other highlights of the book include testimonials and anecdotes from “actual werewolves” that play to the book’s strength of reconciling the extraordinary circumstances of being a lycanthrope with the mundane concerns of everyday life – how to explain your monthly absences to your boss, what to do if you divorce and don’t want to give up your house with the excellent restraint system, the issues that “purebloods” (those born to be lycanthropes) face.
Yet the book doesn’t linger in the mind after reading. It’s entertaining enough, and makes for a fine bathtub read. Perhaps I wouldn’t be so vexed by this (the book is clearly meant to be light and humorous) if I hadn’t recently read Max Brooks’ amazing World War Z.
I’m still waiting for the book that’s going to revitalize werewolves (and give us a break from the smug, effeminate undead). In the meantime, The Werewolf’s Guide to Life makes for pleasant reading.