Top critical review
Promising start, needs better execution
Reviewed in the United States on January 18, 2021
This book felt like it was trying to do everything and yet nothing at the same time. We’re dropped right in the middle of life changing events at the start of the story and at first I really liked how the author created this very complicated web of people and interactions by just forcing the reader in the middle of it. It was a very interesting and, I feel, effective way of characterization for the people at the forefront of the story. However, all of that strong characterization done at the beginning pretty much falls flat when the plot moved at a snails pace in some parts. It felt like a slog to get through at some parts and usually I can churn through books like this in under a day — this one took me three. There are some parts where there’s barely anything happening but the book changes POVs four times in one chapter. It’s hard to even keep up with who we’re following, despite the fact that literally NOTHING is happening but our characters are cuddling in the cold.
That being said, I did really enjoy getting to know Charles and Anna. Their dynamic was really interesting to me. Anna’s story is particularly heartbreaking but reading her come into her own and realize her own talents kept me going. I’m going to be honest, I wasn’t really interested in the mystery plot (which didn’t really develop until closer to the 60% mark) but I kept reading because the pack dynamics were interesting.
Another thing that I want to talk about is the use, or lack thereof, of Indigenous folklore. Cry Wolf builds a world with many creatures, not just werewolves, but the people of this world are incredibly diverse. The setting is in Montana, presumable on a Native reservation, or something resembling one. However, the book doesn’t really talk about the Native people that actually live there (Crow, Blackfeet, Northern Cheyenne to name a few). Instead, it uses Native exoticism to describe pretty much everything about the main character, Charles. At one point, I’m pretty sure Charles is singing something and Anna describes it as a “native song.” I just don’t understand why an author is so willing to use a Native character as a prop but do almost none of the legwork of talking or drawing from ACTUAL native cultures that exist in that area. At times, it can feel exploitative. Like, they are native but only allowed to exist in this vaguely native space instead of putting a name to it.