Benjamin Percy’s Red Moon: The New Werewolf

July 31, 2013 § 5 Comments

Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

If I’m honest, I didn’t expect to enjoy Red Moon. I knew nothing about the author and the blurb on the back cover was less than enthralling, but I bought it anyway.

Boy, am I glad that I did.

Benjamin Percy’s Red Moon is to werewolves as Justin Cronin’s The Passage is to vampires – a modern, gritty novel that brings new life to a centuries-old concept. In Red Moon, werewolves, known as lycans, exist as a sort of international minority group. In American society, they are thinly tolerated, at best. They are the direct result of a virus called lobos, which effects a physical and neurological change in the sufferer, rendering them forever in the debt of the moon.

Plagues don’t just kill people – and that’s what lobos is, a plague – they kill humanity.

As the novel opens, we are introduced to several characters, whose storylines ultimately converge in a chaotic cliff-hanger at the novel’s close. Patrick Gamble is an awkward teenager, forced to live with his estranged mother when his father is deployed for service in the Lycan Republic. Chase Williams is the charismatic and roguish governor running for President, his parasitic associate Buffalo at the helm of his campaign. Miriam is a battle-weary survivor of the Lycan Resistance, and she’s constantly prepared for a violent confrontation she knows is inevitable. Miriam’s niece, Claire, is a typical teenager in every sense except for her lycanthropy. Her parents are advocates of lycan rights, but Claire just wants to manage her disease and get on with life.

When a terrorist cell of the lycan resistance co-ordinates a destructive attack on three planes, Patrick is the only passenger who escapes with his life. The attack sets a new wave of the Lycan Resistance in motion, affecting lives across America, the Lycan Republic (located between Finland and the USSR) and the globe.
She does not understand people – whether infected or clean – for their capability and appetite for violence. No other organism besides a virus seems to hungry to savage everything in its way. Violence defines humanity and determines headlines and elections and borders, the whole world boiled down to who hits whom harder.
Red Moon makes no bones about the fact that it is a metaphor for 9/11. Terrorist attacks on three planes, a Republic defending itself against occupying US forces seeking to mine for the valuable uranium it harbours, irrevocably damaged social and cultural relationships, and a retreat to oversimplified political platforms are all aspects of what is meant to be a very apparent allegory.

She does not understand people – whether infected or clean – for their capability and appetite for violence. No other organism besides a virus seems to hungry to savage everything in its way. Violence defines humanity and determines headlines and elections and borders, the whole world boiled down to who hits whom harder.

As a vehicle for social criticism, werewolves are a rather clever choice. The lycans of Red Moon have no choice over their “condition”, given that they have fallen prey to a vicious disease. Once they’ve contracted lobos, though, they do choose how to deal with it. There are those ignore it as much as possible, those who incorporate it into their everyday lives and work with it and those who change every aspect of their lifestyle in order to reflect their new state of being. While we, as the reader, get to know lycans from all walks of life and differing degrees of sympathy with the extremist Lycan Resistance, we also see how American society at large judges the many by the choices of the few. Sounding familiar?

If anyone knows who drew this, please comment with their name so I can give them credit!

If anyone knows who drew this, please comment with their name so I can give them credit!

This is one of the many reasons I enjoyed Red Moon so much. Percy takes the well-worn concept of the werewolf and turns transforms it (pun intended) into a nuanced Other, at once impossibly alien and uncomfortably familiar. The lycans allow for a very harsh social commentary – particularly through sleazy Chase, whose perspective shifts drastically as his circumstances evolve without his consent. Red Moon features an engrossing array of characters whose lives interweave in unexpected and surprising ways. I particularly liked how several characters who began as periphery figures ended up as major players later in the story.

The end of the Red Moon shifted into my favourite genre – the post-apocalyptic. Percy writes scenes of chaos with a masterful hand, and the book’s messy, frenetic and unexpected climax had me desperately hoping he writes a sequel.

I truly could not put this book down, especially the further I got into it. Don’t listen to the bad reviews, where people are criticising how obvious of a metaphor the werewolves are. In my opinion, Red Moon’s statements are as relevant and incisive as those of Animal Farm, and we all know how thinly veiled those pigs’ identities were!

Grab a copy of Red Moon. Clear your schedule, and prepare for a wild ride, because you’ve never seen werewolves like this before.

Buy Red Moon at Book Depository, connect with Benjamin Percy on Goodreads and, as always, don’t forget to like our Facebook page!

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