This review originally appeared as a booktube review on my YouTube channel. The video is available at the bottom of the post, or you can read it starting NOW! =)
Strays is the first book in indie author Cheree Alsop's newest YA series, Werewolf Academy. This story is about werewolves who live in secret in the modern world. They live in secret partly because your run-of-the-mill everyday human would be terrified of them, and partly because there's a group actively trying to exterminate them. So yeah. Secret is a good way to go.
This series centers around orphan siblings Alex and Cassie who live full-time in the first and only school specifically for werewolves. Wolves live in packs, so every school year the students are divided into packs to learn to watch out and take care of each other. This was my favorite element of the book. On the one hand, it's very realistic because the packs have become very cliquey. There are specific Alphas and they always pick out the same pack every year -one pack is usually full of brawn, the next brains, etc. This frustrates Alex because he understands the true nature of the pack. It isn't about being the strongest or the smartest, it's about having the best mix of all these characteristics. The qualities of the pack members shouldn't be similar, but dissimilar and balanced. I love the intricacies of the pack politics, if you will, and how Alsop combined them with the more common clique and bully problems of school life.
Another thing I found quite interesting is that Alex, our main character, is not an Alpha male. He is not the leader of any pack. In the natural order of werewolves, the highest rank he will ever hold is second-in-command. Of late, I have been very intrigued by the idea of a story where the main character is more of a sidekick or secondary hero in the grand scheme of things, and this is the closest I've ever read to that.
But things aren't all about cliques and school troubles. Very soon our werewolf boarding school endures more than they're usual amount of trouble when the man who murdered Alex and Cassie's parents sets his sights on the twins.
To Read or Not to Read?
Cheree Alsop is an independently self-published author. I am very picky about the quality of the books I read and so I'm overly cautious when it comes to self-published materials. If you're the same way, don't worry about Alsop. Hers are good quality novels and more people should definitely be reading them.
Strays gets four stars from me, and I'm very interested to learn more about this world of werewolves.
Going in, I must mention that Werewolf Academy is a companion series to Alsop's first werewolf books, called the Silver series. More like a spin-off, set many years later, which retains some of the original cast in supporting or minor roles. The two series seem to overlap quite a bit, but Strays does feed you enough background information that it isn't necessary to read the Silver series first. I didn't, and I enjoyed Strays very much.
Verdict: To Read
Giveaway WinnersOnward! Now that you're all dying to read this book, let's find out who our two winners are!
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Congrats, winners! You should hear from me shortly.
Bummed you didn't win? Don't be. I'm giving away another set over on my YouTube channel. All it takes is a like and a comment to enter! This ends Wednesday, Oct 1, so don't miss out. Thanks for playing, everybody!
Did anybody else notice the total number of entries was 42? The answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything? Because that kind of made my day.