In Red Moon, Benjamin Percy introduces an alternate world where lycans, a minority of the population that has been affected with lobos, live alongside us. In this alternate United States, lycans do not live in secrecy, but are required, by law, to suppress the animal within. The novel opens at a turning point in lycan history—extremist groups have decided to use violence until this repression is ended and their demands are met.
Percy makes a play on many notable events from the history we know, inserting the lycan minority at the heart of them. American troops occupy the Lycan Republic in a long standing war, an ad hoc country formed in Europe to be home to the infected. The civil rights movement was a lycan rights movement. Even the Occupy movement makes an appearance, repurposed as a protest against lycan repression.
Although it’s not a subtle one, Percy has found a paranormal lens that allows for a discussion of the wars and attacks of our present and not so distant past. It was interesting to me that even with very little manipulation on Percy’s part other than a plug and chug replacement of lycans, events that are difficult to imagine happening any other way suddenly became cast in a new light.
And like any good book about werewolves, Red Moon also pays careful attention to the blurred line between humanity and our animal nature. There are both lycan protagonists who fight the animal within and humans who are capable of the type of savagery that makes one wonder whether they have any humanity at all.
Red Moon isn’t a short read, but it is a worthwhile one. As a lover of both contemporary fiction and science fiction and fantasy genre reads, it was extremely satisfying to read something as genuinely genre blending as Red Moon.
The only complaint I had was that the last third loses a bit of the momentum Percy finds so easily in the beginning. However, I think the main reason this loss of momentum stood out the way it did is because of how impressively Percy maintains his pace for the first 400 pages of the novel. So, in the grand scheme of things, this complaint is a relatively small one.
And if you have yet to grab a copy of Percy’s short story collection, Refresh, Refresh, or his first novel, The Wilding, you might not know what you’re missing out on in Percy’s prose. His meticulous descriptions and unflagging attention to detail find a smooth rhythm in Red Moon. It doesn’t take many pages for the characters to fall into place, for you to embrace the idea that somewhere over the Atlantic lies the Lycan Republic, to believe that behind closed doors, your neighbors might be transforming into something not quite man and not quite animal.
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