A bullied teenager turns into an important warrior in this debut fantasy novel.
Brian Porter is the fat kid everyone loves to hate. When his family’s pet wolf bit Brian on his ninth birthday, he recovered from the wound 100 pounds heavier. His family shunned him, his best friend, Chris Miller, deserted him, and only the promise of finishing high school gives him hope. But one peculiar day at school changes his life again: his mean teachers are replaced by tough substitutes who defend Brian, and beautiful Sarah wants to hang out with him. But their date is interrupted by Chris, who taunts Brian until Sarah dares them both to explore the creepy house on their block. Inside, a vampire attacks Chris despite Brian’s attempt to help him. Then Brian is stabbed and bitten by wolves. He wakes up in a hospital, transformed, and soon learns that he has been chosen to be a werewolf and a warrior. Meanwhile, Chris tries to resist becoming a vampire, while Amy, his ex-girlfriend, is transformed into a vampire with ease. Brian escapes the hospital and eventually finds help in the form of his two substitute teachers, also warriors. They escort Brian to the home of the Holy Warriors, and although their leader, Cyrus, is weary of the teenager, a loving group of family and teachers grows around him. He receives a new name, Slade, and begins training as a warrior. But when Cyrus sets Slade up for defeat by the vampires, he’ll need all of his newfound confidence to become the warrior he was chosen to be. A strong cast of characters helps propel the story along, although by the novel’s end, readers may need a cheat sheet to keep track of every name. While early chapters rely on clichéd humor, Brian’s wit emerges as the tale progresses. Snappy dialogue and the clear exposition of back story make this a well-developed fantasy. But the motif of good and evil is at times overwrought, and the tale could use some more active female characters, who are not possessed or helpless. The book’s abrupt ending should compel readers to hope that a sequel will follow.
Warm characters and a hero worth cheering for make this page-turner a satisfying addition to the paranormal YA trend.