Monday, October 25, 2010

Reader's Diary #659- Kelley Armstrong: Recruit

(Photo Credit: Curtis Lantinga)

Fairly or not, but I've long considered Kelley Armstrong to be the Canadian Stephenie Meyer, or Stephenie Meyer to be the American Kelley Armstrong. I'd not read either author before but knew they wrote best-selling fantasy/ light-horror books that were mega-popular among young females in particular.

Figuring it's long past time I acquainted myself with Armstrong, I decided to check out her website and was pleased to find that she had some freebies to giveaway. "Recruit," as we're told, "was a very short story written as an extra for Frostbitten. It takes place before the book begins, and launched the investigation that eventually led Elena and Clay to Alaska." I'd not heard of Frostbitten before, let alone Elena or Clay, and I was more than skeptical that the story could hold its own.

Then came the opening paragraph which also didn't leave me with great confidence:
Have you ever been part of a very small and exclusive club that enriched your life in so many ways? That made you wish you could throw open the doors so others could benefit? Then, one day, you can . . . only to discover that no one else is really all that interested in joining?
Is this a universal experience? Starting a story in such a way would indicate it is, as if this common experience is going to bond narrator and reader, building a relationship from the get-go in order to instill what? Trust? Mutual understanding? I'm not sure, but then, I don't know really know the feeling she's trying to express. Could blogging count? Not really, as much as I love it, I know it's not for everyone. Fatherhood? It's great yes, but plenty of others know that already. These aren't exactly small, exclusive clubs. I wasn't off to a good start. I'd better join the Yellowknife Stone Cutters, I guess.

Fortunately, those hurdles were easily surmounted, and I mildly enjoyed the rest of the story. Clay and Elena are on their way into Buffalo, supposedly to meet and recruit a mutt, basically a decent werewolf (decent = not man-eating), named Paul Forbes, into their Pack. When they meet him, however, Paul has something else in mind.

"Recruit" was fast-paced, but while plot-driven, also set up Armstrong's version of the world (basically ours but with an underground werewolf pack) and it was interesting in a fantasy tale sort of way. The story works on its own, I suppose, but really feels more like a prequel to a longer novel. I didn't get the sense, however, that said novel was particularly aimed at young, female readers. However, looking at some of the cheesy cover versions, I suspect the publishers think otherwise.*Maybe someday I'll make it to Frostbitten but for now, not really a priority.

*I don't mean to suggest that young female readers are stupid and necessarily are attracted to cheesy covers-- but it's apparent that publishers do.

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below.)


Barbara Bruederlin said...

I can't say that this story did anything for me. Fortunately it was very short.

Teddy Rose said...

"I mildly enjoyed the rest of the story." LOL. your really giving it the hard sell John.

I think I'll mildly pass.

Here's mine: