Never Cry Werewolf by Heather Davis YA Novel Review

Title: Never Cry Werewolf

Author: Heather Davis

Publisher: Harper Teen

ISBN:  9780061349232

Shelby Locke is having some disciple issues, and her parents, fed up with her unruly behavior, send her off to brat camp for the summer.  As if being stuck spending the summer with a bunch of spoiled rich kids and intrusive camp councilors isn’t bad enough, Shelby displays her bad judgment by falling for Austin, the son of an infamous rock star.  Austin’s got some real issues of his own, but Shelby can’t figure out exactly what they are.  Is he just a delusional substance abuser,  or is there a deep, dark secret that his family has been trying to keep, one so dark and explosive it will bring them to their knees?

I have to admit that I was a little disappointed with this book.  Shelby isn’t a very likeable protagonist, and most of her troubles she causes for herself.  Since the death of her mother three years earlier, she is having some understandable issues accepting that her mother is gone.  To add to her troubles, her father remarries a woman more concerned with her social status than forming a cozy family for the three of them.  This leads to Shelby acting out against her dad and step-mom, defying the rules that they have instituted for her.  She keeps landing in hot water, and as her escapades escalate, her frustrated family packs her off to Camp Crescent, a therapeutic camp for rich kids.

With her summer plans to Cabo snatched from her and prom an unobtainable dream, Shelby finds herself on a bus to camp instead.  Before she even arrives at her destination, a flat tire and two wayward campers gets her on the list of troublemakers.  Shelby is the kind of girl who acts first, then thinks about the consequences of her actions.  When two of the privileged campers head off into the woods, she runs off after them, thinking that without her help, they are doomed to be lost in the woods, without food, water, or shelter.  While Shelby’s father might have been an Eagle Scout, it is evident that she is not, and soon, bad boy Austin is rescuing her.

Austin is the son of a flamboyant rock star, and it’s clear that he has some serious issues to work through.  Shelby is instantly attracted to him, but when weird things start happening as the night of the full moon draws closer, she starts to think that he may be bad news.  May be?  Yeah, she can bet a garden trowel on that, because every time she’s with him, it seems that she’s getting more time in detention, weeding the never ending rows of the camp’s flower beds.

My disappointment with Never Cry Werewolf comes from Shelby’s lack of growth. Though she makes tiny strides to a new maturity and outlook on life, she remains, essentially, the same angry, frustrated girl from the opening scene.  Just when she was starting to open up and trust again, she is thrust into a situation where she doesn’t have much of an opportunity to learn to communicate her feelings.  Her ability to transform into a girl with a new perspective on life was robbed from her, and I felt shortchanged as well.

The romance between Shelby and Austin didn’t have much in the way of romantic tension. Shelby is, if not terrified of him, leery and harbors a healthy dose of fear of him.  He is BAD NEWS.  And she is supposed to stay away from bad news and stay out of trouble so she doesn’t get sent to the scary hell of brat camps, Red Canyon, which makes Camp Crescent look like preschool.   Shelby, and everyone else at camp, thinks that Austin has a substance abuse problem.   What he really has is a very intense craving for red meat and teeth that lengthen perceptibly as the full moon draws near.  Getting Shelby to believe he’s a werewolf is about as tough as smuggling a cell phone into camp, so much of the conflict between them revolves around his feelings of betrayal that she doesn’t believe him.

Never Cry Werewolf offers an intriguing cast, but I felt that the time spent with them was cut short.  The heroine has some very real and compelling problems to work through, but we never labor to a satisfying resolution.  The book is a quick read and offers up an enjoyable romp in the woods, complete with a snarling werewolf,  a kid with a nose for sniffing out gossip, and magical night in the forest during a full moon.  It’s only lacking some solid character development to deliver a more substantial read.

Grade: B-

Review copy provided by Harper Books