Like all of you, I love to read. And in some cases, I love to re-read. Books by my favorite authors (Stephen King, Jane Austen, Christopher Brookmyre, Ian Rankin, and James Ellroy) are like little presents to myself that I can open over and over again. Last week, I was in the middle of re-reading both Wizard & Glass (Dark Tower book 4) by Stephen King and American Tabloid (the most awesomest book ever, by James Ellroy), when I saw a tweet from actor Seth Green praising a book called City Under the Moon by one of his Robot Chicken colleagues, Hugh Sterbakov. As a big fan of Robot Chicken (I could watch the Take Your Daughter to Work Day skit every day and still laugh), I put King and Ellroy aside and picked up City Under the Moon, knowing nothing about it.
I really, really enjoyed this book.
City Under the Moon is a book about werewolves, but I wouldn’t call it a horror novel. Its also a political thriller, a bit of an action novel, a pop culture treasure trove, and also hilariously funny in parts.
City tells the story of a werewolf attack in New York City that soon turns into an epidemic. Thousands upon thousands are infected or killed, leaving the government and scientists at the CDC scrambling to find a solution to a problem they never believed could actually exist. While the POTUS and his team of advisors weigh their options (the slaughter of millions of innocent civilians in order to save the rest of the world?), and the CDC tests out various deadly germs and bacteria that could bring an end to the epidemic (but kill everyone else in its path), the FBI sends a specialist team to Romania to track down the origin of the werewolf curse.
Super-soldier Brianna Tildascow puts together a team of Marines and they try to track down the Master werewolf, along with internet geek and supernatural guru Lon. Lon believes that if they can find and kill the Master, then every werewolf created from his bloodline will be cured. They team up with Romanian werewolf hunter Yannic Ilecko and set off on a wild race against time — as they only have so much time before the full moon in New York City, when they fear the werewolves will no longer be able to be contained to the island.
The clues they find lead them to the Master, who is asking the world to FIND A CURE.
One thing I loved about this book was the level of detail. The characters were all beautifully formed, and the story was full of historical, geographical, and architectural details that were so interesting, it was almost as if New York City, the Chrysler Building, and the United Nations, and the Transylvanian castle were living characters in the story.
I also really enjoyed the humor and the pop culture stuff — how can you not love a book that references Buffy, the Creature Double Feature, erotic fan fiction, the term “hey now”, and Grabthar’s Hammer? But the book was oftentimes serious as well, and that was well-done too. Because the story mainly unfolded in New York, there were many references to life after 9/11, and how sadly, the tragedy hadn’t done enough to change the views and actions of most Americans. One paragraph really stuck with me on that end:
“Despite September 11, 2001, Weston knew Americans weren’t prepared for this kind of hardship. They couldn’t comprehend the cruelty, the unfairness of a no-win scenario. Responsibility had become a forgotten myth. They sat back and ignored wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and famines, genocides and human rights atrocities all over the world, fostering ill will that was becoming increasingly legitimate. Accountability? They’d turned to the government to fix a massive economic crisis borne of their own irresponsibility, and then they complained about the way it was handled. Patriotism? As long as it suited their schedule of Internet porn, rock climbing, Starbucks, video games and romance novels. Sure, the occasional Hurricane Katrina came along, but it was quickly knocked off the front page by the infidelities of a reality television couple.”
But did I mention that this book was scary? And funny? Well, it is. Trust me. I was so glad that the ending left a door open for a potential sequel…and I will happily read anything else that Mr. Sterbakov wants to write in the meantime. Any book that makes me forget about Ellroy and King must be pretty good, right?
I should note: I received a free copy of this book from Hugh Sterbakov (@DarkHugh) when I tweeted him to ask about it.