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Mostly Cross Posts from my blog, Readings From the Dark Side

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Strength of the Pack

Strength of the Pack - Kendall McKenna I had an uneven response to this. I think McKenna is one of the best military writers I've come across. Her knowledge of the details, speech patterns, attitudes of US soldiers struck me as spot on, and infinitely better than the average writer. I really like the story's premise and the way that the book focused on integrating werewolves into combat operations in real-world "theaters of war."

That being said, this is a long book, and yet I felt like there were some key aspects missing. We are never given any specifics or history about werewolves' open role in this society or in the military and since I was very curious about it, I ended up feeling severely frustrated, especially since what we do get tends to be reiterations of the same basic situations over and over again.

Also, the story seems to be setting up some kind of interesting suspenseful crisis with Stanley and his assistant, which ultimately ended up a red herring. We're not really given a full picture of what was going on there other than that there was an incompetent officer, or an explanation of why Stanley wouldn't give Lucas background information on weres etc. and then Stanley just disappears--problem solved. I felt like Chekov's gun had been dangled in front of me menacingly, only to be carefully unloaded and locked up in the gun safe. What we're left with is a plot structured around Lucas' unwillingness to admit that his feelings for Noah go beyond the care of an officer/alpha for his subordinate. Since it is universally obvious that the two are in love, this constitutes sheer blind idiocy on Lucas' part. I really dislike it when a book's climax hinges on the main character's getting over some ridiculous mental hurtle they never should have had in the first place, and it particularly burned because a much more interesting conflict had been carefully set up with Stanley and then left to wither on the proverbial vine.

Bottom line: I admired the writing here tremendously, so much that I'd even posit that McKenna should be required reading for any novelist contemplating writing about the US military. Beyond that, I had a lot of frustrations with what the story included and what it left out.