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review 2017-11-23 04:53
Hunger Makes the Wolf by Alex Wells - My Thoughts
Hunger Makes the Wolf - Alex Wells

Thank you SO much, KJ Charles for bringing this book to my attention.  I loved it!  :)  I have to say, I don't read everything that KJ recs, but I have found that the ones she recommends that catch my interest with the genre and blurb are never a disappointment.

The first half and a bit of the book was admittedly a bit slow.  Interesting but slow, I found.  We were getting to know the characters of importance, Hob, Mag, Nick, the Bone Collector etc... and learning some of the way Tanegawa's World works.  It's a mining world with some farm communities and one big city - I think.  In charge of the planet is Transrifts Inc., a mining company that holds most of the planet under its heavy heel.  The company also controls the mysterious people, the Weathermen.  These are also the people who have talents/abilities to facilitate rift space travel.

So, Hob, one of the main characters, is a young woman who is a member of a mercenary biker gang that lives apart from 'normal' society.  Exiles for the most part.  Hob is not native to the planet, she came by spaceship as a child, a stowaway type thing, I think I gathered, and was adopted by the leader of the bikers, Nick.  Nick also has a brother, who is a miner, a team leader if I'm not mistaken.  There's a wife and a daughter, Mag.  Mag is the other main character in the book and is as different as night and day from Hob, her adopted cousin.

Anyway, there are strange things afoot on Tanegawa's World and everything points to some sort of huge change for its inhabitants.  Rebellion?  Natural disaster? Further enslavery by the company?  God knows.  But when you get into the second half of the book, the action picks up and things get really, really good.  The characters come really alive now.  And rebellion/resistance is a trope that gets me every time.  There's some magic involved.  There are spies.  There are raids and assassinations and plots and mysteries afoot.  Hardly anything gets settled by the end of the book, but I didn't find that a problem.  It's a jumping off point, like the first, establishing season of a good TV series.  And this would make a great series, I think. The characters are rich with depth, and diverse, and they feel real, which is very important to me.

I can't wait to read the next one!  Which is out in February.

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review 2017-03-24 13:42
Review: Hunger Makes the Wolf
Hunger Makes the Wolf - Alex Wells

Is Dapperpunk a thing? Can it be a thing? I feel like this dapper AF badass fireball of a heroine could define the genre if it isn't already one.

 

If I have to stick to actual genres, this is a blend of space opera and western. Motorcycles instead of horses. And, as expected, the future is not evenly distributed. And the people under the boots of the intergalactic corporation are tired of taking shit. Deserts or mines, why not both.

 

Great adventure. Great characters. Great pacing, meshing never-to-long snappy dialog with action. This is the director's cut of the summer blockbuster movie I've always wanted.

 

Stand alone, but with hooks for direct sequels and other stories in the same universe. I'm not sure if reading it is the one thing keeping me sane with this endless cold, or the reason I'm not better yet as I read it instead of sleeping.

 

If you're looking for a fun adventure where you can root for the underdog, check this out.

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text 2017-02-15 21:09
2017 e-book pre-orders
Martians Abroad: A novel - Carrie Vaughn
Hunger Makes the Wolf - Alex Wells

I'm a bit late posting this, as I'm currently reading one of these. This is just my kindle pre-orders. The list is longer than the 2 pictures shown, those were the only two BL had covers for at the moment.

 

January:

Martians Abroad: A novel - Carrie Vaughn: Currently reading this fish out of water tale, and looking forward to picking up a paper copy for my niece.   

 

March:

Hunger Makes the Wolf - Alex Wells: Interstellar travel and bikers.  

 

May:

Owl and the Electric Samurai (The Owl Series) - Kristi Charish: The third book in this UF series following the ongoing shit show that is Owl's life as she fails social interactions and turns every bad situation into a catastrophe. I am a big fan of this series.

 

River of Teeth - Sarah Gailey: Hippos and such.

 

June:

The Prey of Gods - Nicky Drayden: This looks to be some sort of misfits save the world kind of thing.  

 

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter - Theodora Goss: Hate the name, love the concept. Supernatural mystery with links to horror and SF classics.

 

July: 

The Rift - Nina Allan: Sisters and trust for the win. 

 

Strange Practice (A Dr. Greta Helsing Novel) - Vivian Shaw: Cults, murders, and a doctor of the undead.

 

At the Table of Wolves - Kay Kenyon: Alt-history, supernatural spy thriller.

 

September: 

White Trash Zombie Unchained - Diana Rowland:  Book 6 in a series that's been quite fun so far.

 

December:

Barbary Station - R. E. Stearns: Pirates in space!  

 

I have a separate list of physical books on order with my almost-local indy shop. I'll try to post that list in the next few days.

 

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review 2017-01-12 02:04
Bikers, (Space) Witches, Miners and more
Hunger Makes the Wolf - Alex Wells

Let's just get this out there -- this is a very cool novel. If you dig SF that's not beholden to space ships and lots of future tech -- and can even handle a little bit of magic, you'll want to read this one.

 

Tanegawa’s World is a little forgotten backwater of a planet -- think Tatooine -- so forgotten that none of the colonists there really have a clue that there's an interplanetary government, or what's going on with any other planet. The company that runs the mines (and by extension, the farming communities that support the mines) runs the whole show. There are organizations of workers in individual towns, and there's a loose network connecting them, for mutual assistance and support. And then there are the Ghost Wolves -- a band of mercenary bikers. They are a law unto themselves, but have strong ties to the miner groups. They may be supported by/sympathized with by most people in the towns, but officially they're outlaws.

 

Hob Ravani is the lowest ranked member of the Wolves -- she's made some serious blunders that required her to go through the training/probationary process twice. But she's a full-fledged member now, and the leader, Nick Ravani (no blood tie, but he gave her his name), seems to trust her, even as he's still testing her commitment following these blunders. Making a routine run with a couple of other Wolves, Hob finds the body of Nick's brother lying dead in the sand, shot in the back several times. This discovery -- and the ensuing investigation, retaliation, and the side-effects of both -- will end up changing Tanegawa's World and the lives of many of its people in ways that no one can expect.

 

Which is not to say that this is a big, global story. It's not. This is about Hob and her immediate circle. They just find themselves (and, eventually, put themselves) in some critical areas -- and also don't realize just what they're getting themselves into. Mag, the dead man's daughter, is Hob's estranged best friend, and will be the favorite character of many readers. There are Geri and Freki -- twins who are only slightly senior to Hob when we meet them, they're not really friends of hers, but they are allies she can count on when she needs to -- and on this world, that might be more important. There's Coyote, who I enjoyed immensely, and a couple of other Wolves that we spend time with, but most aren't factors in the story. There's one more person in her circle, the Bone Collector -- I'm not even going to try to sum him up in a sentence, but he's worth getting to know.

 

On the flip side we have Mr. Green, who is just creepifyin' (as Mal Reynolds would say), a Weatherman (not like Al Roker) and a couple of cut-throat corporate types who just this side of wearing black hats and twirling their mustaches They are absolutely believable and not cartoon-y, but reek of "bad guy."

 

There is something that could be magic going on here -- it's definitely seen as magic by some. It might be radiation-induced mutation. It could be some sort of world-spirit/alien entity doing something to people. It's tough to say, and it really doesn't matter -- some individuals on Tanegawa’s World possess abilities that others don't. The ultimate cause of those abilities makes no difference to the story, it's interesting to speculate about (and to see why various groups adopt their interpretation and how they use it) -- but at the end of the day, it just means that there are a few characters walking around with extra abilities which don't define them, but are definitely helpful.

 

The plotting is good, the pacing is strong, and there's a strong voice throughout the work. This is just an impression -- I can't quote anything to verify it (were I a professional, I'd make the effort), but while the voice is consistent and strong throughout, I think Wells is a bit more aggressive about it in the opening chapters. In sort of a "come on strong and get you into the world" then dial back to "now here's the story." Or maybe it's "throw you into the deep end" and then let you swim undisturbed. Or maybe I acclimatized Or maybe I should stop trying to make this point and move on. My overall point on voice -- both the narrative voice, and the individual characters -- it that it was strong, clear and engaging -- the kind that you want to spend 300 pages with. Wells demonstrates the chops to keep and build an audience, if they'll just give the book a shot.

 

I've seen a lot of comparisons to Dune and this world -- I've never been able to get through much of the first book, and nor the adaptations -- so I can't comment. There's a lot of sand, so, I guess maybe. Tanegawa’s World feels like something out of O'Keefe's Scorched Continent or Firefly -- a mining/agricultural society in what might as well be the Old West with (some) better technology than we have. Arguably, this planet is a little less hospitable to humans and The Powers That Be are a shade more corrupt.

 

I've also seen a lot of talk about the biker gang aspect of the book. It didn't feel as prominent as I'd have liked -- it was there, but it didn't seem that vital to the nature of the mercenary crew the Ravani leads. If I had to compare it to anything, the Ghost Wolves felt more like a UF werewolf pack than anything else. That may say more about what I've been reading than anything that Wells wrote, still I got more of a Briggs/Vaughn/etc. vibe to the group than a Kurt Sutter-vibe. Outside of a handful of individual members, I didn't get a clear feel for the Wolves. It's understandable, Wells had a lot balls in the air and was doing just a good job juggling them that I didn't notice. In retrospect, however, I'd have appreciated a little more time with this aspect.

 

I feel like I've gone on too long here, but I haven't touched all the things I want to say. There's just so much going on in these few hundred pages! Despite all that, you don't get bogged down in the worldbuilding, the details, the backstories, or anything -- Hunger Makes the Wolf is a fun, fast, gripping read. I trust there's a sequel on the way. There just has to be. Not that this isn't a complete story -- there's just a lot of threads that beg to be picked up. Either way, you'll want to read this one.

 

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Angry Robot via NetGalley in exchange for this post -- thanks to both for this opportunity.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2017/01/11/hunger-makes-the-wolf-by-alex-wells
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