The Frenzy

Francesca Lia Block, HarperTeen, $16.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-06-192666-2
Having offered her twist on the vampire mythos in Pretty Dead, Block sets her sights on lycanthropy. When Liv turned 13, she knew she had changed, but not "what I had become." The hair that grows all over her body and her inner rage still mark her as different four years later, but it takes a mysterious woman living in the forest to tell her what she is, and why she has been cursed with "the frenzy." Readers can enjoy this book both as a chilling fantasy and as a compelling identity quest—because of race, sexuality, and Liv's "change," neither she, her best friend Pace, nor her secret boyfriend, Corey, can live openly. The hot, sticky summer and smalltown setting lend to the book's ambience—as do other creepy touches, such as a local craftsman who makes artisanal prosthetic limbs. Not all these turns will captivate readers: a suggested tragic romance involving Pace and a ghost feels underdeveloped. But Block enthusiasts—and fantasy fans in general—will find a mix of imagination and emotional honesty worth sinking their teeth into. Ages 14–up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/27/2010
Release date: 09/01/2010
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