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Lunatic Fringe (Tales of the Pack, Book 1)…

Lunatic Fringe (Tales of the Pack, Book 1)

by Allison Moon

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Allison Moon's Lunatic Fringe is a truly wonderful read, the kind of story that manages to simultaneously by clever, sexy, frightening, and engaging. It's one of those books where you're never quite sure what to expect, but are never disappointed by the surprises on the next page.

The story takes quite a while to really settle into the core storyline, but Allison establishes the world so carefully, and builds up the characters so beautifully, you don't begrudge the long introduction. I tend to have a hard time with names (both in person and on the page), but these characters immediately stuck in my head. I found myself subconsciously dividing them into friends, allies, and adversaries (something I don't normally do unless I'm really engaged) and categorizing them according to likability. With a cast of characters as well-balanced as they are well-rounded, picking sides makes for a really fun read.

Before we get into the characters, though, we are exposed to a healthy dose of social politics. The early chapters have a very 'college' feel to them, with a lot of ideas tossed around, but it's done very well. Allison manages to make an otherwise polarizing subject exciting by intimately tying the issues of sexual identity and gender equality to the characters, giving the politics both a face and a personality. There is even a genderqueer member of the Pack who, as I'm sure will come as no surprise, easily crept into my heart alongside our stunning heroine, Lexie.

There's so much I want to say about this, so many key scenes and snippets of dialogue that I'm dying to share, but it really is the discoveries that make the story. Allison manages to merge the threads of social politics, lesbian romance, werewolf adventure, and college drama into a story that takes hold and never lets go. A story that's both fun and thoughtful at the same time is a rarity in and of itself, but one that's also beautifully written, with such a deft command of narrative and dialogue, is a gem that must be shared. ( )
  bibrarybookslut | Jul 5, 2017 |
This novel takes an interesting concept (lesbians & feminists meet werewolves), but with terrible politics and purple prose it's a disappointing mess rather than a delight.

First bad sign was when the protagonist decided to consistently "he" the only butch character, immediately after establishing her as a woman. Why? "Something about using 'she' to describe you feels odd," she explains (pp. 34–35). Is it the short hair? The plaid shirts? The white T-shirts? Hmm, must be the "man-dals" mentioned later on p. 115. (Apparently Mitch can do nothing without reference to its gender-defying nature: When she's at the grill, Lexie muses on what to call it: "manning–womaning?–the barbecue" (p. 30)? Actual quote.)

Another bad sign was the dismissal of Andrea Dworkin in favor of Kate Bornstein (p. 35). (She's not "interesting," apparently.) Then the explanation it's not the patriarchy, it's the kyriarchy (p. 59). You know, the kyriarchy, led by... kyriarchs?

The women's studies professor establishes on p. 22 that feminism doesn't mean "must hate men" or "the lack of a sense of humor." Giant eye-roll. Thank you very much.

(I did appreciate this exchange though:

Duane: That sounds fun.
Jenna: You're not invited.
Duane: What if I'm gender non-conforming?
Jenna: Nice try, frat boy.
(p. 26))

Then there's the painfully descriptive narration:

Never before had Lexie seen a woman who looked like her. She wore her hair in a fluffy corona, a halo of soft black suds held back from broad forehead with an eggplant-colored wrap. Her skin was the color of walnut heartwood, with flecks of darker freckles sprayed across the bridge of her nose. She stood a head taller than Lexie, all smooth swishes and spindly appendages indicating a normal-shaped girl who had been stretched. Her ribcage dipped into a narrow waist, then flared out full and sturdy hips that made the girl look like a sexy teaspoon." (pp. 31–32)
Sexy teaspoon? What the? Later, "Would it be racist to say she had never met someone who looked like Renee before?" (p. 38) (It's unclear why Lexie is so shocked by Renee's existence, when it's established earlier on that she has met black and mixed-race people before.)

And the sex scenes: "She pressed her soaking groin against Archer's abdomen" (p. 178); "her fingertips grazed her cervix" (p. 179) — could anything be less sexy?

There's a vivisection of a rat in biology class, the only critic dismissed as a "protein-deficient crazy man" (p. 190).

Then there's the rape apologism. A rapist is an "innocent" (p. 276). The victim of a gang rape: "Whatever. It wasn't even that bad, the rape" (p. 214). Beating up abusive men, on the other hand, is "sociopath[ic]" (p. 193).

What is Allison Moon trying to achieve? I have no idea. ( )
  csoki637 | Nov 27, 2016 |
Lexie is going away to college – though laden with self-doubt and insecurities as well as a whole lot of questions as to exactly what she’s doing and what she wants to be.

But college is a place where she can learn – and far more than she realised. She can learn about the world, form some solid friendships, fall in love, truly discover her sexuality and find out who she is

She also finds out a whole lot about werewolves. And werewolf hunters. And loving werewolves and how things are rarely as simple as they appear.

I had real problems getting into this book. It’s very descriptive and overwritten and tends to ramble around in places. I think it’s trying to be evocative to carry the full power or emotion of a moment or the scale of various feelings or new concepts, but instead it kind of rambled. I think part of the problem was that, with the title and the blurb, I knew we were going to be dealing with werewolves. It’s one of the problems with any “big reveal” book. The cover/title/blurb/pre-amble/author’s introduction tells you a book is about werewolves (or vampires or angels or whatever) then you spend half of the book playing coy until the ZOMG WEREWOLVES moment that we all knew was coming. It’s hard to pull off in a way that doesn’t leave the reader bored.

Lexie herself isn’t a bad character per se, she’s very much what she is, a small town young woman with very limited experience and fewer social skills and even less confidence, going off to college to find herself, learn more about who she is and what she wants to do.

But those stories end with someone who finds themselves, learns more about themselves and what she wants to do – and I’m not sure Lexie ever does that, despite at the end of the book her refusing to go travelling. And throughout the book she’s a very passive actor in her own story, taken to things, nudged towards things and constantly, constantly running from things. I don’t think that ever really changes.

What could have been a fascinating element of this book is the world itself – the werewolf packs, the different kinds of werewolves, the peacespeakers and what they mean (hopefully beyond some vague references to Native Americans), their history and the conflict between the packs. But it didn’t work for me because so little of it was explored. We had a few lectures from Archer, some speeches by Blythe that I’m not sure we can believe and Archer’s own internal angst. I think I could have loved this world, but as it is I stand a little confused and feeling like I just didn’t quite get it all. It needed more development and exploration.

The romance is unique in that it’s between 2 women – and heartfelt and powerful as many romances in paranormal romance. But we do have the falling in love awfully quickly trope, we have the conflict that I can’t entirely agree with trope (Lexie becomes angry with Archer for killing people pointing guns at her) and we have the virgin introduced to relatively advanced sex techniques and it all going swimmingly. They’re standard tropes though and I have seen them done far worse elsewhere.

This book established itself as really tiresome to me before it hit the 40% mark – because it devolved into a series of lectures and PSAs. Far be it from us, at Fangs, to be resistant to social justice themes in books – far from it, we’d love to see more. But there’s a difference between having social justice themes and messages and having your characters recite text books and sound bites to each other. It wasn’t naturally incorporated, it didn’t flow – it was clumsy and clunky, it was didactic, it felt like the author has ripped out pages from a sociology and women’s study text book, with a side order of remedial queer theory and glued them in.

Read More ( )
  FangsfortheFantasy | Sep 20, 2013 |
I’m not really familiar with lesbian novel, but I wanted to give to Allison Moon a try, for various reason, one of which is that she was named a Lambda Literary Foundation Emerging LGBT Writers Fellow and Lunatic Fringe is her first novel. I’m happy I give her this chance, since, while for sure there is a lesbian theme, a love story between Lexie and Archer, this is mostly a story that could appeal to many different readers.

I had the feeling there was a feminist message underneath, Lexie going to college and facing a new life, was also her growing into an independent woman; maybe her doing so in an unconventional way was a message for the female reader that you can reach your targets even if you don’t align to what is expected from you.

I did like also the love story, I also liked that it was not the main focus of Lexie, as it’s proven by the end. I’m not sure this is the final point between Lexie and Archer, being this a first book in a series, maybe there is still space for some evolution in their story, for sure what Lexie will accomplish at the end of this story, is to reach a self-consciousness of herself and of what is in her power to do with her life.

There are many references to the concept of Mother Nature, the Moon as biological clock, ancient myths all centered around the imagine of the woman as main creator (even Archer’s work as carpenter and the same author’s name). For that reason I said I read a feminist message underneath, and for that reason I think that was the main focus of the author.

  elisa.rolle | Jun 19, 2012 |
Lunatic Fringe was significantly better than the last self-pub book I read, and better than a lot of books from big publishers, too. But it ran hot and cold. Author Allison Moon's craftsmanship is alternately talented and slapdash, so that at the end of the day, I felt that the book wasn't as enjoyable as it could have been. Possibly it's a matter of perspective. This book is aiming at a rather specific niche, and I may not be in tune enough with the target audience to "get" it. But Moon has potential. She may not be able to make the most of it in this debut outing, but the raw talent is there.

Read the full review at Lupines and Lunatics
  LupLun | Sep 29, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0983830916, Paperback)

Lunatic Fringe indulges the feminine wild by giving the classic werewolf myth a lesbian twist.

Lexie Clarion's first night at college, she falls in with a pack of radical feminist werewolf hunters. The next morning, she falls for a mysterious woman who may be among the hunted. As Lexie's new lover and the Pack battle for Lexie's allegiance, the waxing moon illuminates old hatreds, new enemies, and a secret from Lexie's childhood that will change her life forever

Lunatic Fringe is the first book in the Tales of the Pack series.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:18 -0400)

New author Allison Moon indulges the feminine wild by giving the classic werewolf myth a lesbian twist. Lexie Clarion's first night at college, she falls in with a pack of radical feminist werewolf hunters. The next morning, she falls for a mysterious woman who may be among the hunted. As Lexie's new lover and the Pack battle for Lexie's allegiance, the waxing moon illuminates old hatreds, new enemies, and a secret from Lexie's childhood that will change her life forever.… (more)

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