Audiobook Review: Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

3 06 2013

Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

Read by Benjamin Percy

Hachette Audio

Length: 21 Hrs 43 Min

Genre: Literary Horror

Quick Thoughts: Benjamin Percy’s Red Moon tells the tale of the afflicted, the demagogues and the victims that this world of werewolves has created. It combines the detailed political and social alternate history of Harry Turtledove or Robert Conroy with the gut level horror of Stephen King told with a literary flair that escalates the novel beyond its influences.

Grade: A

I have always been fascinated by what motivates protest movements. I consider myself politically moderate, and have never felt the need to take to the streets over any issue. It’s not that I don’t have passionate beliefs, because I do. I will sign positions and write my legislatures, but I have trouble taking protest movements seriously. Maybe it’s a product of my conservative and religious upbringing where extreme political actions, even for things we cared about were looked down on. Maybe it’s a product of my age. My formative years were in the late 8o’s early 90’s. I remember the first Persian Gulf War and while people objected to it, there wasn’t the sense of outrage the second war brought about. I went to high school in the first Bush  years and college in the time of Clinton. We were more worried about the state of the economy than terrorism, human rights abuses by our government and social inequalities. Or maybe I was just lazy. Maybe I was so obsessed by my own personal struggles that I never looked outward. I’ll be honest, part of me still looks at the anti-war protests, the occupy movement and the modern social movements as a reflection on the desire of kids to have a 60’s like experience, than any true reasoned objection. It’s not that I don’t agree with them, it that I remember my politics at that age and how transformed I am now, and I can’t help but wonder if there will be some sort of reverse process for them. I have always been a “work within the system” type of guy. I think it fits my personality, and even though I have become much more liberal than the young republican college student I started out as, I still can’t see me grabbing a sign and joining the movements.

In a modern version of America where a prion infection brings about a lycanthropic change, those infected have been regulated to second class citizens, feared and hated by many aspects of the populace. When a gruesome terrorist attack leaves only one survivor, the country is up in arms letting their fear reign. The government cracks down on activist werewolves and begins to place restrictions on all lycans, while the war in the plutonian rich lycan home nation rages. Benjamin Percy’s Red Moon tells the tale of the afflicted, the demagogues and the victims that this world of werewolves has created. It combines the detailed political and social alternate history of Harry Turtledove or Robert Conroy with the gut level horror of Stephen King told with a literary flair that escalates the novel beyond its influences. Percy has created a political charged narrative ripe with modem day analogues, yet tells it a well paced, accessible story that doesn’t force an agenda down your throats. Fans of alternate history will appreciate the complexities and details he built into his world. Percy explores many area with a sociological authority that allows the readers to see the many shades of an issue that is far from black and white. Horror fans will have trouble getting their blood pressure down after an opening that will suck your breath from you lungs and fans of literary fiction will appreciate the well drawn characters, the lush prose and well told story. I loved every minute of Red Moon, yet, I do have one bit of hesitation when it comes to offering recommendations. As someone who truly loves alternate history and horror, this novel was right in my wheelhouse. Fans of horror may struggle a bit with the long trips into world building, wanting to get right back into the blood and gore. Yet, I reveled in it. I enjoyed the sprawling storytelling that took us from characters to character with an almost epic flair. While the story focused on three main characters, you truly felt you got a glimpse of the greater world within Percy’s intimate story. This isn’t really a werewolf tale, but a tale of humanity living with, adapting to and using fear. Percy even creates a limited apocalyptic scenario, ripe with dark images and tales of survival that truly rounded out one of the most satisfying reads of the year for me. Red Moon is one of my favorite novels of the year, offering something for everyone, and maybe a bit of extra for readers of my proclivities.

I am often hesitant about author narrators, but from the moment Red Moon started I knew I was in for a special listening experience. Thomas Percy has a deep sonorous voice that just made my hair stand on edge. He created such an oppressive, claustrophobic mood in the opening of this novel, that I was hooked. He has the perfect voice for horror, and while he lacks some of the polish in pacing that professional narrator may have, he captures his words with a raw beauty that causes them to leap off the page. He also managed to show a wide range of character voices. I did struggle with his voice for Patrick. Percy uses his narrative voice for this character, which was so deep it didn’t totally fit with the young naive juvenile  but this flaw was soon forgotten as he swept you up in his world. Surprising, his female voices was some of his best voice work. Percy shines mostly when things are happening, the flow during the expositional moments is where sometimes the pacing failed, but then you were sucked right back into the tale. If Red Moon isn’t nominated for an Author Narrated Audie next year, then a will take up a sign and march on the mysterious mansion of those who decide such a thing.

Note: Thanks to Hachette Audio for providing me with a copy of this title for review.

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