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Immortal Lycanthropes Hardcover – September 4, 2012

4 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 10 Up-Myron Horowitz, an adopted orphan, is severely disfigured as a result of a childhood tragedy. A ninth grader who looks about eight, he is a misunderstood loner and suffers from constant intimidation. But a life-altering experience changes things forever when he unknowingly unleashes powers defending himself against a school bully. He discovers that he is a lycanthrope, a human/animal shape-shifter. The story is told by Arthur, who is also a lycanthrope. Sought after by others of his kind, Myron begins a bizarre and mysterious journey that involves kidnapping, misadventures, murder, dangerous tests, and numerous secret societies, all while trying to discover his true form and purpose in the world. Johnson's debut novel is original and thought-provoking, especially the unique mythology intertwined with literary and historical references. Unfortunately, the craziness of the plot makes it hard to stay committed and focused. Arthur's witty and snarky narration is entertaining but not enough to engage readers in the plight of the protagonist.-Donna Rosenblum, Floral Park High School, NYα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review

"Filled with sarcasm and humor, this book will appeal to all teens . . . Teachers will love the high-level vocabulary (and content clues), sophisticated mathematical and scientific references, and non-stop allusions to writers, poets, books, and historical events."
VOYA

"Johnson's debut novel is original and thought-provoking."
School Library Journal
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Clarion Books; 1 edition (September 4, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547751966
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547751962
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,211,643 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Bertrand Russell once said that the sign of an excellent work in philosophy is that it begins by making a claim so obvious as to be banal. It proceeds from this to make a number of seemingly obvious inferences. When you reach the conclusion you think "of course, why did I waste my time on that rubbish" only to realize a few moments later that you are affirming something you would not, in your wildest dreams, have admitted before you began reading the paper.

This isn't a work of philosophy, but if we can adapt that evaluative rubric it is an excellent work of YA adventure fiction. We begin with something obvious--young people who are ugly get bullied by other slightly less young people. We then get an adventure--one that is a little beyond normal, but not so much to become unbelievable. As the series of adventures continues, each just a bit more adventuresome than the last, you are drawn into an increasingly fantastic world. You're spat out at the end thinking it a plausible world, only to realize that you'd probably have put the book down in the first 25 pages if you'd been thrown in at the outset.

There are a number of other wonderful aspects to this work, but I think people tend to not read amazon reviews of any great length. I'll end with a brief comment on the sentiment of earlier reviewers: if you think this material is a bit much for your YA aged child I would urge you to get to know your child a little better. S/he lives in a world different from the one you imagine.

Full disclosure--I am personally acquainted with the author. If you judge this circumstance corrosive to my judgement, then go here [...] to read a professional reviewer who certainly does not know the author talk about the book.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a great book, er, uh, perhaps better described as a book written by a great author. In a post-Harry Potter world that teaches us that magic is NOT the answer to our mundane problems (see my review of The Magicians), when Good and Evil have clearly left the building to make room for good and bad, this is the book to read for all the ages of intelligence. The battles are gritty and not satisfying, the doldrums are tedious, and the phrase "give me a minute" will never hit your ear the same way.
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Format: Hardcover
I've never read anything quite like this, and I can't quite classify it--and I don't mean that it "has a good personality." (Though it does. You should totally date this book.) It's just that it's marketed for ages 12 and up, so technically it's older middle grade? But it has YA sensibilities and an adult voice, so I guess it's more of a crossover book. I guess "12 and up" really is the most accurate description, but you have to shelve it somewhere, right? But everyone should read it!

Anyway, it's about a boy named Myron Horowitz, by all appearances a 13-year-old boy with a face as ugly as his name. He falls in with some shapechanging animals: so-called "immortal lycanthropes" who can assume human form. Some of them are kind of after him, and he's after some of them, and there are secret societies coming out of the woodwork, and there's even a doomsday device. Everyone wants to know who he is, especially Myron. He has lots of questions, most of all who he can trust and what his destiny is, as he travels the country encountering quirky and sage characters like an immortal gorilla, an immortal moose, an immortal red panda, and so on. And the answers to those questions will surprise you, dear reader. This is a trippy road trip with plenty of humor tempered by tragedy and philosophy; as Myron learns, sometimes all you can do is hold on for dear life and see where you end up. I think this book is a born classic that will hopefully be around for a long time.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a great book - and it shouldn't be restricted to the Young Adult audience.

All the way through I was thinking; 'This reads like American Gods by Neil Gaiman.' That's not a bad thing at all, I really love that novel. But by the end of it, I noticed another similarity to Gaiman, in that the book could actually be viewed as a contemporized retelling of a classic (as many of Gaiman's books can; Neverwhere is essentially the Wizard of Oz, Coraline is Alice in Wonderland, The Graveyard Book is meant to be HIS version of the Jungle Book with dead people, ETC...).

Immortal Lycanthropes seemed (to me) to be a (rather brilliant) retelling of the Jungle Book, with the modern world of man as the Jungle and little Myron as Mowgli.

Myron and Mowgli fill the same role in the narrative as the naive character learning about the world on behalf of the reader, and when you get right down to it, their story-arcs are also very similar. The humans, ironically, are the only wolves in this Lycanthrope story, in that they fill THAT role from the jungle book.

Characters like Spenser, Gloria and Arthur all fill the roles of Mowgli's various mentors (Bagheera, Baloo and Kaa). The ever looming antagonist 'Mr. Bigshot' could also be seen as a close parallel to Shere Khan...

As for how the author resolved it, well... nearing the end of the book and realized there were only a few pages left, I had no idea how he would satisfactorily finish the novel, but it ended quite beautifully - in yet another brilliantly executed parallel to Kipling's classic...

Of course, it's just my interpretation and I'm aware that there are only so many stories out there. What is worth noting is the high level of originality in Johnson's execution. This is beautifully written and it felt like something fresh and new through and through. I enjoyed every page of it. I really hope we'll see more from him soon.
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