March 26, 2012

The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice (audiobook): Review

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...or You Don't Win Friends with Salad.

Beware: I sooooo disliked The Wolf Gift. If you loved it, you might want to look away.

You know how it happens: man is bitten by werewolf, man turns into werewolf. That's the story. In this case, Reuben Golding is attacked while trying to save the woman he's just slept with from being murdered. Reuben survives but his girl does not. She does manage to leave him her mansion in the wilderness within the short period that he knows her. While recovering, Reuben finds that he has strange powers. He's stronger, more confident, and he hears the voices of people in trouble. Indeed, he becomes a furry Spiderman. He can do whatever a wolf can, plus leap over trees and climb atop buildings. Reuben now spends his nights trolling for evil doers, tearing them limb from limb. 

Reuben is a lonely boy. He finds himself an angel in white flannel. Together they hit the books, trying to find the answers to why he's become the Man-Wolf and find others like himself.

I used to love Anne Rice. All her gothic moodiness. Her vampires and witches. However, I become disenchanted with her writing over the years. It was also hard to ignore some of the odd things she said to fans disappointed with her recent novels and her comments about not needing an editor. Still, I wanted The Wolf Gift to redeem my faith in her. 

The first complaint I have with The Wolf Gift is the slow pacing. It takes ages to get going and when it does the same things happen over and over. It needs a severe edit. There is so much unnecessary information. I thought about starting a drinking game for every time salad was mentioned. One shot for "glistening salad", two if Laura made it. Damn, that girl made a lot of awesome salads. You would swear she was the Guy Fieri of salads. There's even a scene where Reuben and Laura make salad together. It's not hot. It's salad. In fact, food is mentioned so many times throughout, I wondered if Rice wrote those scenes close to dinner time.

Reuben is no Lestat. He's got money and looks but he's so dull. Plus, he does things that a 23 year old would never do or say. They were the actions of a 53 year old. It pulled me right out of the story. Laura was even less inspiring. She mostly makes salads, sobs softly, and wanders around in white flannel nightgowns. She has a whole suitcase of those nightgowns. Did she inherit them from her Granny in 1982? I did not care for the Insta-Love between them either. Also, I didn't think making out with a wolf was very sexy. The other wolfmen (they're all men) are so gentlemanly and free with the information. There's no mystery. Any baddies who appear are quickly dispatched. 

I continued listening to The Wolf Gift long after I thought I should stop. I kept waiting for something to happen. The structure of the story is awkward. The climax happens with at least an hour of the recording still left. After this, there is a lot of explanations and philosophizing. It reminded me of Ayn Rand's 25 page speech by John Galt in Atlas Shrugged. It's more Rice than the characters speaking.

I always try to find something positive to say about a book but I'm struggling with this one. I really liked the house. Oh, and Marchant. She's the sexy 38 year old who owns the house and Reuben is smitten by her. She was an intriguing character and had potential, except that she's murdered right away. What the truck?!

Opinions seem divided on The Wolf Gift. Either you love it or hate it. I think you can tell where I stand. Plenty of people whose opinions I respect love it though. All the little things got on my nerves. It lacked the fire of her previous novels. I think I'll stick with bad boy Lestat.

About the Audio: Ron McLarty narrates the story and I thought that was an odd choice. Though the story is not in the first person, the point of view is Reuben's, a 23 year old. I don't think that helped me think of Reuben as a young man.

Ratings:

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12 comments :

  1. I tried an Ann Rice years ago when we lived in France. I was so desperate for the written word that I would read anything written in English. Her book is the only one I didn't finish while we were there.

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  2. I think you have to read Anne Rice before you're 25. If you do, there's a good chance you'll fall in love with her the way you describe.

    But after you have another decade or two of reading under your belt, you'll begin to spot her flaws. I loved the first vampire books of hers, even enjoyed Cry to Heaven and some of the Sleeping Beauty stuff.

    But I fear that they wouldn't hold up to re-reads now. Some things we loved when we were young should stay memories.

    That said, I do hope future generations of young readers will find her books as much fun as I did.

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    1. I would be afraid to reread the books I loved written by her right now. I read Interview when I was 16 and Witching Hour in my 20s. I loved them both and did read them again but not recently. Sometimes a reread ruins everything.

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  3. Your review was a fun read, even if you didn't like the book. Maybe the narrator was an appropriate choice since Reuben also acted like he was 53.

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  4. Wait, is the salad a metaphor for something? ;)

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    1. Well, salads can be pretty boring...so.

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  5. I'm so with you other Chris :( I used to love Anne Rice so much too and was hoping I would love this one but I couldn't even make it half way. The wolf sex just creeped me out :/ Maybe in the hands of someone like Angela Carter or Terri Windling it could've been pulled off better, but it was just plain weird in this book. And yeah…there was nothing at ALL about Laura that made her…enticing? stand outish? Intersting as a character? LOL…I had such high hopes for this one. I must say I enjoyed your review of this one WAY more than the book. I had a few really good laughs reading this :) And I needed them…so thanks :)

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    1. Yeah, the only thing different about Laura was that she could sleep with him as a wolf without getting creeped out! That was when she preferred to be with him too. It was weird. Glad I made you laugh!

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  6. Bwahahaha! You have changed my lunch choice, that's for sure. No salad for me :) Seriously, I loved Anne Rice back in the day, but she just started taking herself too seriously somehow. I don't think I could read her anymore, and your review sort of seals it!

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  7. Oh god I don't know how you suffered through the audio!! I could barely handle print with the ability to skim.....

    I think what bugged me the most about Reuben is I get the sense we're supposed to think he's some super-mature 23 year old tortured with family expectations and tons of money. Yeah. I feel so sorry for him. Also, as a 25 year old with none of those cushions he has, I found it a bit insulting that he's supposedly so awesome, when I mostly wanted to smack him upside the head.

    Lovely review. Had me giggling. :-)

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