Author: Joseph Bruchac
Published: 15th September 2011
By: Lee and Low Books
First line: The mark is on the back of my left wrist.
Last Line: This is as close to a happy ending as I’m going to get.
Favourite Line: I feel like a guppy who’s been dropped into a shark tank.
Wolf Mark is a clever mix of the sci-fi, action adventure and genres. It tells the story of Luke who like any teenager is desperate to blend in with the rest of society but is clearly destined not to. Aside from the fact that he carries a strange wolf mark on his skin and often displays wolf-like tendencies he is highly skilled in survival techniques having been trained by his father who is a member of the black ops. While his family are still recovering from the loss of Luke’s mother, Luke seems to find himself being plagued by a group of Russian teenagers that have moved into the area. He also finds himself trying to pluck up the courage to ask out Meena, a young Pakistani girl who attends school with him and like a lot of teenage boys, struggling to do so!
The story really starts to take off when Luke’s father is kidnapped. After following a series of pre-planned clues Luke finds himself at Drake House, a deserted mansion where he discovers his ‘second skin’, that is the final element that will complete his transformation from human to skinwalker, a creature which possesses all the strengths of the wolf but also retains the abilities of a human to some degree.
It is also after his father is kidnapped that Luke discovers that he has more in common with the Russian kids at school than he first thought and that they actually have a common enemy in the multinational organisation, Maxico, who have taken up residence in their local community and who appear to be linked to the disappearance of Luke’s father. From this point on Bruchac creates an intricate web of corporate conspiracy, greed, and the desire for world domination which he ties to ancient folklore regarding the world of the skinwalker.
I like the intricate details that Bruchac includes in this story. Two things that particularly stand out are the way that he describes Luke’s transformation into the skinwalker which is nicely described and the information that he provides with regards to the folklore that surrounds the skinwalkers. I also liked the cultural discrepancies that he highlighted between Luke and Meena as they tried to forge a relationship. One thing I wasn’t really sure of at first was whether Luke knew he was a skinwalker and was just waiting for the right time to transform or whether he was just ignorant and experiencing wolf-like symptoms and I did find that a bit frustrating. I may have missed something in reading but I felt that further clarification might have helped. I also found the way that Luke spoke as a wolf irritating sometimes. Having said that the language that Bruchac uses is very descriptive and whilst there is some mushy stuff in this book it’s fairly minimal so I think that this may also appeal to the male YA reading faction more than other books might.
Rating: 3 out of 5. I would recommend this book for younger readers of the YA fiction genre or indeed those who enjoy the younger end of the range.