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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Book Review: Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson

Reading level: Young Adult
352 pages
Simon Pulse; 1 edition (May 18, 2010)
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound
Language: English

Torn between two destinies?

Claire is having the perfect sixteenth birthday. Her pool party is a big success, and gorgeous Matthew keeps chatting and flirting with her as if she's the only girl there. But that night, she discovers something that takes away all sense of normalcy: she's a werewolf.

As Claire is initiated into the pack of female werewolves, she must deal not only with her changing identity, but also with a rogue werewolf who is putting everyone she knows in danger. Claire's new life threatens her blossoming romance with Matthew, whose father is leading the werewolf hunt. Now burdened with a dark secret and pushing the boundaries of forbidden love, Claire is struggling to feel comfortable in either skin. With her lupine loyalty at odds with her human heart, she will make a choice that will change her forever?

Book Opening: 

"SHE KILLED HIM in the darkest part of the night, before the dew had settled on the grass.

It was easy. He came to the window when she'd tapped her claws against it. It was exactly what she'd hoped he would do. Sliding up the square of glass. Sticking his head out to investigate. Like an idiot. Like prey.

One less moron in the world. She licked the blood off her mouth, the coarse whiskers sliding against her tongue." –Prologue   

Notable Scene: 

 "Claire opened her mouth, reading to disagree, when something moved at the far end of the building. She blinked and wondered if the tree shadows were playing tricks on her eyes. The security light showed nothing but a bare expanse of concrete and a chain link fence.

But then, whatever was out there twitched again and a pair of yellow eyes flashed in the darkness."- Page 278

Some girls get a car on their sweet sixteen. Claire finds out that she's a werewolf. Not exactly a birthday wish come true, right?

CLAIRE DE LUNE by Christine Johnson introduces us to a different world. One where werewolves exist, but with a twist; it's a females-only club. Male werewolves have never existed. Women pass on the gene from one generation to the next, waiting until their daughter's sixteenth birthday (when the wolf begins manifesting) to induct them into the pack.  While most werewolf novels have a strong alpha-male as the leader, in Claire's world they assume control based on intellect, not physical prowess.

This fresh take on werewolf lit set the stage for a story with a lot of potential for originality and character development. This time around it was girl saves boy; I couldn't wait to see what happened. While I will say CLAIRE DE LUNE turned out to be an enjoyable read, particularly with the themes of female empowerment, self-acceptance, family loyalty and courage, I found several aspects fall short of the mark.      

For me, the book seemed more of a lighter coming-of-age story with a furry twist than the spine-tingling werewolf saga I had anticipated prior to reading it.  While there were some great plot twists with the rogue killer on the loose, and red herrings thrown in to keep the reader guessing, the main focus of the book was first and foremost always about Claire's transformation.  I had actually wanted to learn more about how the wolves evolved, how the "Goddess" became a focal point of their existence, etcetera. Granted, none of this was absolutely essential to the actual storyline, but it would've been fascinating and given more validity to the world building. The reader is actually never told how the wolves evolved or when they were first discovered by humans. I felt like I had missed something;
I had been looking forward to delving deeper into their mythology and evolution.  Unfortunately I never got to read about it.

Christine Johnson definitely excelled in constructing Claire's character. I felt sympathetic to her situation. Her mother dropped this huge bomb on her when she turned sixteen and I thought she did a poor job of helping her daughter assimilate. But the biggest problem was Matt, Claire's love interest and son to the villainous scientist hell-bent on destroying all werewolves. This made for some good tension and plot conflict. But I found Matthew and Claire's relationship to be a little too perfect. I often wondered if some sort of relationship drama might've spiced up their chemistry a bit more.

The plotting was pretty steady but did seem slow in some parts. Towards the end, it definitely picked up, and once the action unfolded, I became more interested in how things would play out. The book definitely ties up with a satisfying ending; one that has real potential for a sequel. While CLAIRE DE LUNE wasn't a massive standout for me within the werewolf lit genre, I think it will appeal to ardent werewolf lovers and paranormal romance fans. 


I grew up in, moved away from, and finally came home to Indianapolis, Indiana. While I was in the “away” part of that adventure, I was living in Chicago, Illinois, where I went to DePaul University and met my husband. I majored in Political Science. For the record, Political Science is a totally useless degree. But it’s also totally fascinating and I loved studying it. I fall into that trap a lot. I graduated with about nine million extra credit hours because I was forever taking classes that seemed “interesting” instead of classes that I needed to fill requirements.

After college, I lived in Chicago for several more years with my husband. I had a string of jobs – some I liked, some I hated, but none of them ever stuck with me as a career. Writing is different. For this job, I could be a workaholic! Anyway, after several more years in Chicago, my husband and I moved back to Indianapolis. (We got tired of constantly looking for street parking in Lakeview.)

Now, I live in an old house in an old neighborhood with my husband and kids. I have too many books and a weakness for anything sweet. I love yoga and cooking, but I’m not much of a movie person. I like watching soccer, and always look forward to the first sweater-worthy days in the fall. But mostly, I like making things up and writing them down and having people read them. So, that’s what I do, and I’m very, very lucky to be doing it!


Jessica said...

Good review! I will admit I was curious about this book, but based on your review I'm not sure I would like it as much.

Maybe I'll try the library.


Alyssa@Teens Read and Write said...

I agree, more light coming of age than dark werewolf tale but fun and an interesting take on folklore. Perhaps we'll get more background in the next one. Thanks for the review!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Thanks for your honest review.
I love wolves so I must try this sometime.

Question: Have you always done stars? Cause I love it!