cover image Rules for Werewolves

Rules for Werewolves

Kirk Lynn. Melville House (Random, dist.), $25.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-61219-476-9

A pack of vagabond, homeless teenagers camp out in unoccupied suburban homes in Lynn’s dialogue-driven tale of outcasts and rejects. The restless group, led by a control freak named Malcolm, pillage what they can and live off the land—which in this case happens to be a wasteland of supermarkets, malls, and convenience stores. If one of the kids stays with the group long enough, they “change” and become a unique type of werewolf. This is not your horror movie sort of werewolf, but simply a creature with heightened senses who preys on the fringes of normal society. Yet one of the teens’ rules is that an actual physical change is required—it’s not just a state of mind. When young Bobert is kicked out of the group for defying Malcolm, he returns home and finds his younger brother, Tim, has changed for the worse. Together they set out on a quest to rejoin the werewolves. As they evade the police and try to rebuild their lives in the wilderness, their twisted path reaches a crossroads at a house occupied by an unsuspecting old woman. At heart, Lynn’s compelling debut novel is a parable about loneliness, violence, and modern malaise. It is one of the first post-recession, post–housing crisis American novels of truly alienated youth and suburban fear. (Oct.)