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Immortal Lycanthropes Hardcover – September 4, 2012

3.9 out of 5 stars 31 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Johnson's debut novel is original and thought-provoking, especially the unique mythology intertwined with literary and historical references.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.


"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."

"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: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #896,234 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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
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 Verified Purchase
I've read a couple of young adult novels that haunted me more than this one: Pippin's Journal, Cruddy, The Lord of the Flies. Look, I'm not going to kid you, this book is pretty dark at times. On the other hand, I'm a pretty sensitive reader and despite the upsetting events that befall the hero, I couldn't put the book down. (For reference I couldn't finish Lemony Snicket's The Bad Beginning because I found it too upsetting)

Part of why I couldn't put it down is that there are no lulls in the story. Myron is always in danger or escaping from danger. But there are other reasons. There's oddball humor inserted among the death defying escapes. There are some charming literary references. I'm pretty sure the crunchy granola that Myron eats while travelling in the woods is a Pinkwater reference. There's a large variety of well-realized characters: killers, con-men, ordinary bullies, insane waifs, hobos, and of course, all the animals.

If you like Pinkwater or Roald Dahl or Lemony Snicket, I think this book will be right up your alley. As for what age group it's for, I'd venture to say it's for young adults of all ages, 12 to 12,000.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I don't normally read YA, but my friends were all talking about this book, so I gave into peer pressure and bought a copy. Sometimes, giving in to pressure really rewarding!

The opening, as mentioned in other reviews, is excellent. I strongly recommend reading the first few pages using amazon's look inside feature to get a sense of the quality and sharp wit of the author's writing style. If you don't like that style, then don't buy the book, also I pity you.

On its most basic level, Immortal Lycanthorpes is an adventure novel, and if it didn't rise above that level, it would still be a pretty good. What makes it great is Johnson's dedication to minutia so obscure that I'm sure most of his negative reviewers thought he was just making this crazy crap up. This minutia is not decorative. It is there to illustrate what for me is the novel's core conflict. Johnson's protagonist is thrown into a world of secret societies, con artists, thieves, murders, and of course immortal people that can turn into animals, all with their own "truths" and agendas. For poor Myron, ultimate survival is not just staying a step ahead, its UNDERSTANDING himself and his place in the world in the face of so many competing and contradictory informational authorities.

Surprised that universal this could be in a Young adult novel? So was I, but this is a surprising novel, all the way through.
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