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Mongrels: A Novel (2016)

by Stephen Graham Jones

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4242551,377 (4.05)23
NOMINATED FOR THE SHIRLEY JACKSON AWARD * NOMINATED FOR THE BRAM STOKER AWARD NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF 2016 BY TOR.COM AND BOOK RIOT A spellbinding and darkly humorous coming-of-age story about an unusual boy, whose family lives on the fringe of society and struggles to survive in a hostile world that shuns and fears them. He was born an outsider, like the rest of his family. Poor yet resilient, he lives in the shadows with his aunt Libby and uncle Darren, folk who stubbornly make their way in a society that does not understand or want them. They are mongrels, mixed blood, neither this nor that. The boy at the center of Mongrels must decide if he belongs on the road with his aunt and uncle, or if he fits with the people on the other side of the tracks. For ten years, he and his family have lived a life of late-night exits and narrow escapes--always on the move across the South to stay one step ahead of the law. But the time is drawing near when Darren and Libby will finally know if their nephew is like them or not. And the close calls they've been running from for so long are catching up fast now. Everything is about to change. A compelling and fascinating journey, Mongrels alternates between past and present to create an unforgettable portrait of a boy trying to understand his family and his place in a complex and unforgiving world. A smart and innovative story-- funny, bloody, raw, and real--told in a rhythmic voice full of heart, Mongrels is a deeply moving, sometimes grisly, novel that illuminates the challenges and tender joys of a life beyond the ordinary in a bold and imaginative new way.… (more)
  1. 00
    Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones (sturlington)
  2. 00
    The Reapers Are the Angels: A Novel by Alden Bell (sturlington)
    sturlington: Both road stories, both traverse the South. One has zombies, the other has werewolves.
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» See also 23 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones has to be one of the most unique takes on the werewolf genre that I have read. To be truthful, I do not read a lot of werewolf books.

A yet to transform boy and later teenager travel across the US with his uncle Darren and his aunt Libby. Libby and Darren are werewolves who must continue moving to survive. Sometimes they move because one of them has killed the wrong person, who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sometimes they move because there are werewolf trackers on their tale. Wherever they go, our narrator is waiting for his first transformation. He realizes he isn't like his uncle or aunt, but he hopes that someday he will change.

The story itself is told entirely through our unnamed narrator as he moves through life with his uncle and aunt. It is part a coming of age story, part gypsy life story, and part werewolf story. Our narrator admires his aunt and uncle and wants their life so much, even if it means a life of isolation and constant moving. He cannot connect with human girls because wolves kill them if the woman becomes pregnant. So, as he becomes a teen and his teen desires grow, he is torn between them and the wolf life.

We also meet other werewolves and two different types that have given up the wolf life. One group refuses to transform back to human and another are werewolves who refuse to become wolf anymore. Unlike the old tales, the full moon has nothing to do with transformation, but rather a desire to transform. Part of the question for our narrator is what is the difference between the wolf life and the human life?

There are also these little interlude chapters where the narration is a bit different and told from a 3rd person perspective. Our narrator has been keeping a journal throughout his time, so these might be journal entries, but it is never specified.

As much as I loved this take on the werewolf, the writing was at times a bit off-putting. I couldn't put my finger on why, but something was just slightly off every now and then which pulled me from the narrative. The book though as a whole is a great take on the werewolf genre.

I gave this one 4 stars.
( )
  Nerdyrev1 | Nov 23, 2022 |
Great story. This is the second or third book I have read by this author and one of the things I admire about his writing is the 'literary' feel to it. My only dislike is the slow pacing and since I had the same complaint about his other novels I think that is just a characteristic of his writing style though this one was faster paced than The Only Good Indians. The end was interesting to me especially in regards to the aunt, still not sure if I would classify it as a happy ending or not. Probably as close to one as you can get with a horror novel. ( )
  awesomejen2 | Jun 21, 2022 |
I gave up on this one fairly early. It's not that it isn't well written; it's just that I don't care about the plight of this boy in a family of werewolves, who may or may not become one himself. As is my practice, I don't rate books I don't finish.
  datrappert | May 4, 2022 |
Mongrels is a coming of age story about a boy who lives with his aunt and uncle on the fringes of society. They are outcasts that are barely getting by and constantly on the move. The chapters of the book are vignettes of his life that are not always told in order. There will be a chapter when he is eleven and the next will be when he is fifteen and the next will go back to when he is nine. They also switch from first person to third person between chapters. Despite the confusion this could cause, it worked. All of the chapters and the stories they told fit together and the order makes sense for the story. While this is a story about werewolves, it is much more than that. It is a coming of age story about a boy trying to figure out his place in the world. It has a much more literary feel than other werewolf books I have read. I think that anyone that likes werewolf stories should include this in their reading plans, but that those that like more realism in their books may enjoy it too. ( )
  Cora-R | Jan 16, 2022 |
Wow, I really like this novel. It's a different take on a werewolf story than I've read before. It keeps the reader guessing about the narrator all the way through, and in the meantime poses questions about family, what it means to be human, and the risks and benefits of self-reliance and generalizing based on personal experience. I feel like I'm missing some of the significance of the cars, though, especially the El Camino. ( )
  ImperfectCJ | Oct 3, 2021 |
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Eventually I went to America. There no one believes in werewolves. - James Blish
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Thea Lucas 1914-1999 thanks, Pop
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My grandfather used to tell me he was a werewolf.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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NOMINATED FOR THE SHIRLEY JACKSON AWARD * NOMINATED FOR THE BRAM STOKER AWARD NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF 2016 BY TOR.COM AND BOOK RIOT A spellbinding and darkly humorous coming-of-age story about an unusual boy, whose family lives on the fringe of society and struggles to survive in a hostile world that shuns and fears them. He was born an outsider, like the rest of his family. Poor yet resilient, he lives in the shadows with his aunt Libby and uncle Darren, folk who stubbornly make their way in a society that does not understand or want them. They are mongrels, mixed blood, neither this nor that. The boy at the center of Mongrels must decide if he belongs on the road with his aunt and uncle, or if he fits with the people on the other side of the tracks. For ten years, he and his family have lived a life of late-night exits and narrow escapes--always on the move across the South to stay one step ahead of the law. But the time is drawing near when Darren and Libby will finally know if their nephew is like them or not. And the close calls they've been running from for so long are catching up fast now. Everything is about to change. A compelling and fascinating journey, Mongrels alternates between past and present to create an unforgettable portrait of a boy trying to understand his family and his place in a complex and unforgiving world. A smart and innovative story-- funny, bloody, raw, and real--told in a rhythmic voice full of heart, Mongrels is a deeply moving, sometimes grisly, novel that illuminates the challenges and tender joys of a life beyond the ordinary in a bold and imaginative new way.

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