Top positive review
Missy's origin story? She had puberty.
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on November 21, 2018
P.G. Allison's stories about Missy the Werecat are a guilty pleasure read for me. I say "guilty pleasure" because I should know better. There are other books out there that are better written by a mile. But, dammit, this author presents what to me is an irresistible premise. And a lot of you guys think it, too, seeing as how there are now seven volumes in the series, with more coming down the pipe.
Missy McCrea is a werecat, a teenager who can change at will into an imposing mountain lion while the entire time keeping her faculties intact. And she has crazy adventures. This first book spans four years in her life, starting from when she was thirteen at soccer camp in New Hampshire and went missing. Cue the extensive search and the FBI's getting involved and the zero results. For two years everyone believed Missy dead, possibly having been abducted and killed by a predator.
Missy's superhero origin story? She had puberty. That night, at soccer camp, she was compelled to walk away and, for the first time, shapeshift into a mountain lion. And, for the next two years, Missy wandered the New Hamphire mountains, unable to change back. And then she changed back.
I love Missy. She's so boss. I love strong, confident females who spit on angst and piss on histrionics. Some of my favorite reads concern epic asskickers like Laury Dahners' Ell Donsaii, Michael Anderle's Bethany Anne, Laer Carroll's Mary McCarthy, all women.
Some plot spoilers.
Put Missy on that list. She's one of only twelve werecats known to exist, and the first female werecat in 200 years. She leaps off the pages and snatches your well regard. I love that, even before she obtained crazy abilities, she was a child who strived to do the right thing, befriending everyone and defending helpless kids from bullies.
Going in, I assumed this was a YA read. But I caution you that this book dives into some pretty dark and ugly themes. Some of the content is definitely catered for mature readers. If you think your kid is mature enough to handle this, then, have at it.
I get that there are issues with this book. It's why I can't five-star it. It's weird, but when it comes to my reading material, I morph into the most puritanical prude there ever was when the sex gets too graphic. I get it that Missy - because her alter ego is a mountain cat and because she's a healthy, curious teenager - would entertain sexual appetites. But, damn, I did not need intimate details on page after page of a horny Missy McCrae. I may have skipped ahead.
But the most damning thing is P.G. Allison's writing style. I forget where I read it, but someone compared this author's boilerplate writing style with Joe Friday writing an incident report. That's brilliant. So, no, the writing isn't top-shelf. I can see high school English composition teachers dumping on this author's writing. Editing could've been tighter. Things are overexplained and later regurgitated from other characters' perspectives. So, too much recapping. The writing style is too perfunctory. We read that Missy did this, then did that. Then she ate a big meal. Then she did this, and so on. We never do actually get into her head to sift thru what she's feeling in detail.
And, okay, I didn't mind this, but I guess I'll address the Mary Sue issue. Missy - like Ell Donsaii and Bethany Anne - is shown as someone who can do no wrong. Everyone adores her and is in awe of her and thinks she's beautiful, and she never has problems taking out the bad guys. It'd be nice if someone really takes it to her once in a while.
So why the 4 stars, instead of a lower rating? Because, despite my grumblings, I did tremendously enjoy the read, and it's because of Missy herself. I like the idea of her. I dig that she doesn't think twice about going out in the world and helping people in need and, by doing so, exhibiting her astounding athleticism and shrugging it off when gobsmacked witnesses don't understand how she can do what she just did. I do think it's smarter for her to keep things low-key, but, then, where's the fun in that? It's to do with that her inner cat requires constant exertion, a release of pent-up energy, which means Missy has to stay active on a ramped-up scale and also consume food of such mammoth portions to make a hot dog-eating contestant blanch. It's satisfying watching her join an all-boys martial arts club and cut a swath through all comers and then, later, going for the amateur championship. I appreciate her kindness in holding back to allow her competitors to save face.
As far as her supporting cast, I like her troubled best friend, Alice, best, as well as Missy's FBI liaison Robert Ulrey. I like that Missy refuses to be a loner, refuses to keep her family in the dark. I like the logic of why she confides her secret to them, that her shapeshifting is due to some rare recessive gene that may, down the line, crop up in her siblings' children. So, yeah, her family had to be warned.
I've gone on and on and I can keep going, but I'll stop now. I've addressed the ups and downs of this book. I do recommend it. Heck, I recommend the entire series. Next one's titled Missy Goes to West Point wherein the worldbuilding expands and Missy McCrea exhibits further moments of badassery. Read the book.