We Were Wolves by Jason Cockcroft
Expected Publication: May 2021 by Andersen Press
Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary, Fantasy
We Were Wolves is about a boy who tries his best to keep his father afloat, shouldering a burden he shouldn’t he even shouldering in the first place, and how people can be like wolves—or, perhaps in this case, the more apt description would be predators. It’s a young Young Adult novel which means that it’s sweeter and more innocent than your typical older YA book, but there are some moments of violence which may feel amplified due to how young the narrative voice sounds.
Other than that, this book is filled with gorgeous imagery, metaphors and symbolism. However, it wasn’t done as seamlessly as I hoped for, especially in the beginning where the author is laying down the foundations of the story. There was so much going on—too many big ideas and opinions—that I couldn’t even remember what the point of the story was. Sure, it helped with character building, but I felt that the story suffered because of it. It also didn’t help that it wasn’t told in a linear narrative. It was a challenge for me to stay immersed the story and the amount of time (more than a month) it took me to get through the first part is a testimony of that.
Fortunately, the pacing picks up in part two of the book and the story becomes more linear. I could properly immerse myself into the story and found myself feeling for the boy. He tried so hard for his father and did his best with what he had. It saddened me that someone so young has to bear such burden, but when I had a proper sit down to think, I realized that there are some of us who may have done the same before as children. Perhaps not to the same degree, but there’s a reason why people say that kids pick up more than they let on.
Anyway, I find it clever that the boy’s name was never mentioned. It made it seem like he could be just any boy and any boy could just be him. The fantastical elements are also done brilliantly. They can be either the boy’s coping mechanism, actual metaphors and symbolism, or simply just fantastical elements, and I couldn’t help but wish the illustrations in the ARC I got were bigger so those elements could be amplified (thank goodness the published version will be fully illustrated!).
All in all, this book is a solid read. I think that it would’ve been better had it been more concise, but that’s just my opinion.
Thank you so much Pansing for sending me an ARC of this in exchange for an honest review! We Were Wolves by Jason Cockcroft will be available at all good bookstores.