The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group by Catherine Jinks is a novel that aims to put a fresh twist on werewolf fantasy, taking place in Australia.
Our story begins with Toby Vandevelde, a teenager who wakes up in hospital with no memory of what happened to him the night before. It seems that he was found naked in the dingo pen of the local wildlife park, which soon becomes a local news story.
His mother is worried sick, suspecting drugs, whilst his doctor believes it could be some rare form of epilepsy. Then Toby receives a mysterious letter from a priest, who then turns up on his doorstep with Reuben Schneider, a man who claims to be a werewolf and tells Toby that his symptoms indicate lycanthropy.
Naturally, Toby dismisses their appearance as insanity with his mother throwing them out of the house. However, Reuben and Father Ramon are persistent in getting in touch with him, so Toby hatches a plan with his two best friends to try and prove that their theories are the work of fantasists. Reuben is understandably frustrated at Toby’s childish antics, but is determined to make him see the truth before he kills anyone.
Toby isn’t sure if he believes Reuben or not, but his mind is soon made up when he is kidnapped and locked up underground. This is exactly what Reuben warned him about, as there are certain individuals who stage werewolf fights for money and would pay big money to get their hands on Toby. Locked up with no idea of where he is or who has kidnapped him, will he be able to escape, or has he realized the truth too late…
This book began well, as I liked the introduction to Toby’s situation and his initial disbelief at being a werewolf was fully understandable. However, from here it started to go downhill as Toby’s antics with his two best friends were childish to say the least, and this really ruined my opinion of him as the main character. Regardless of this childishness it was hard to believe at times that Toby was only supposed to be thirteen, as his physical capabilities befit someone older. On the other hand, the book did feel distinctly like a YA novel as Toby could be very whiney and I often got fed up of him.
In terms of the plot, I felt that it was a little underdeveloped as there was a big build up to the kidnapping and the events that follow felt rushed, in particular how quickly Toby finds a way out of his prison. There were also elements of plot convenience throughout the novel, as the way he escapes felt ridiculously easy and the other events that follow didn’t really feel relevant to the plot.
There wasn’t a great amount of character development throughout the book apart from Toby, as I would have loved to have known more about Reuben and the other characters that form the support group. As a result these characters didn’t feel real and again it just felt like they were there for plot convenience.
I was highly disappointed with this book after reading the blurb, as it promises ‘hamster-drinking vampires and accidental zombies’, and neither of these elements were introduced until the very last few pages and even then they were skirted over. I also found the title to be a bit misleading, as the werewolf support group isn’t formed until the end of the novel and I was expecting this to be more central to the plotline.
I had mixed feelings towards this book, as after reading the blurb I was expecting the excitement of vampires and zombies and was really disappointed that this was barely touched on. Considering this was a werewolf novel, the lack of a transformation sequence was also disappointing and the book did feel distinctly YA whilst I was reading.
BUY YOUR COPY