Title: Claire de Lune
Author: Christine Johnson
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?
Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster Children’s
Publication Date: May 18 2010/ July 1 2010
Hardcover: 256 pages/Paperback:352 pages
Stand alone or series: First in a new series
Why did I read the book: What made me want to read this book? The cover and the title (which I think is a great play with Clair de Lune). Yes, I can be shallow.
How did I get this book: I received an ARC from Simon Pulse
I will go straight to the point and summarise the book’s proposition: Claire de Lune is a book about a girl who finds out that she is a werewolf (in a world that despises and fears werewolves) and who struggles between being human and being a werewolf. I find that, as conflicts go, this one could potentially be interesting depending on how one executes it. But Claire de Lune bugged me to no end because it is a book whose main conflict stems from a very flawed, counterintuitive, inorganic premise. But I am way ahead of myself.
On her 16th birthday, Claire finds out that she is a werewolf.
Hold on. I think that sentence lacks a certain flair. Let me rephrase this:
On her 16th birthday, Claire develops a rash.
It covers her hands and ears and it itches and it itches and….no one does anything about it. Claire goes around for a few hours, scratching, hiding her hands and covering her ears and never once considers going to a doctor. She is then informed point blank by her mother, that she is a werewolf. That she belongs to a local pack.That werewolves are female only, who don’t consider themselves human – at all – whose identities MUST at all cost be kept a secret, hence why girls are only told they are werewolves a few days before their first transformation. And then they have to just deal with it. With the fact that they are not humans; that they are, what most people consider, killing machines; that they are not supposed to have lasting relationships with any humans, because they can never know they are werewolves; who in order to reproduce, must find a human partner but should not fall in love or remain too close.
Let’s take a step back for a moment and examine this premise. It just….doesn’t make ANY sense to me. It sounds, as I said before, very counterintuitive: from a biological point of view and from a cultural point of view.
With regards to the former, one of the most important biological imperatives of any species is reproduction. Correct me if I am wrong, but a female-only species does not sound like the way to go especially if you consider minor things like you know, GENES. Wouldn’t having babies ONLY with male humans be the perfect way to weaken the lycanthrope genetic signature? Granted that all I have here to guide me is my High School Biology and my love for David Attenborough. I may be wrong but this was sufficient to pull me out of the story. And don’t think I don’t appreciate the attempt at making a “girl-power” story with strong female characters who are in charge, because I do. But there’s gotta be a reasonable explanation for this.
Then there is the cultural significance. According to this specific lore, packs have existed forever, created by a Goddess and they find that the best way to be safe is to keep it all a secret. Again, correct me if I am wrong: I think the chances of someone freaking out and letting out the secret to the world are FAR greater when you are told out of the blue, that you are a creature of nightmares, that all your life to that point has been a lie, that you must break away from your friends, that you can’t have a boyfriend (unless you want to reproduce), that you must lie to everybody you know, that you can’t say “oh my God” anymore and instead you MUST say “oh my Goddess”. Wouldn’t it be simpler, safer, to grow up knowing who you are and being prepared for the transformation with more than a few weeks’ notice? But then again, if any different, there would be no cause for this book.
Because of these issues, because the resulting conflict sounds very artificial, it was extremely hard for me to carry on reading, yet I did finish the book and that is saying something. Part of what made it reasonably readable was the fact that Claire did react to these changes in an appropriate manner: railing against her mother, freaking out, considering different aspects of her new reality. I also liked her romantic relationship with a nice, wholesome boy named Matthew. It is definitely refreshing to have a paranormal romance minus the whole “falling for a dark, brooding boy who might just kill me” thing.
Unfortunately that is as positive as I can be. Even if I had no issues with the premise and world-building, the rest of the book, the characters and the plot were unremarkable.Even though Claire was sort of likable when dealing with her mother and werewolf issues, her constant whinny “why do you like me, I am not popular” mantra was tiresome. Matthew’s reply to this, is that he considers her the most interesting person he knows and yet not a single scene between them has in-depth dialogue that could actually SHOW instead of TELLING me why he thought so.
There is also a storyline in which a rogue werewolf is killing humans and public opinion is that werewolves are BAD and EVIL (led by Matthew’s father by the way, who is almost a psycho villain). Again, I ask: if the werewolves were not as secretive – I mean, the entire world already knows they exist, so what is the point? – and came out to say ”hey, we are not all evil, you know”, possibly these problems would not exist. Furthermore, the revelation of who the culprit is, doesn’t ring true, considering the heightened senses that the werewolves supposedly have. Surely one of them would have SMELLED this person since they all knew her.
Even with the overall blandness what really prevented me from enjoying the novel was its lack of intrinsic logic. I am fully aware that this might not deter other people from enjoying it but I would still say: proceed with caution. On my side, I prefer my fiction with a bit more of salt, pepper and a better rationale on the side, thank you very much.
Notable Quotes/Parts: I read the book three days ago and I can’t remember a scene I truly liked.
Verdict: Bland, uninspired YA novel based on I what consider to be a flawed premise. Regardless, this will probably appeal for those looking for “more of the same” rather than something new and unique.
Rating:4 – Bad but not without some merit
Reading Next: The Demon’s Covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan