Frightful Friday: Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week. The featured title this week is Red Moon by Benjamin Percy:

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; First Edition edition (May 7, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 1455501662
  • Source: Publisher (via Netgalley)

Set in an alternate world, Red Moon describes a world in which lycans walk among us. Infected by prion called lobos, the protein spreads through the human body like an infection.  The contamination is wide-spread: an entire region called Lupine Republic is set aside for those infected.  Those forced to reside in this large-scale containment camp survive by mining the uranium that was discovered after the containment zone was created.

There are other lycans that maintain a fairly normal life. They work with us, go to school with our children, ride planes. They are forced to take a highly addictive drug called Volpexx to control the “change.” Yet in some instances they attack and these situations are what have caused the strong feelings of hate toward the lycans.  Now, once they are discovered, American lycans are treated like criminals despite never showing any evidence of threat.

Narrated by three individuals, Percy shows three unique aspects to this story. Patrick Gamble survived a lycan attack on board a plane by hiding beneath a body of one of the victims.  Claire Forrester is a teen lycan striving for a normal life, seeking revenge after her parents are killed in a government raid.Chase Williams is a politician who is adamantly anti-lycan, even after he himself is infected.

Using these three vastly different characters, Percy shows how our country has consistently treated various subsets of the population different, throughout the generations and continuing into modern times. It isn’t hard to draw the connections between the world within Red Moon and our current cultural climate.

While I would claim this is truly a horror novel, Percy does add some…literary tones to the story that makes it hard to classify it in just one genre. The writing is extremely descriptive and detailed, toning down any overly harsh or graphic segments within the prose. Percy’s novel has truly take the typical werewolf tale outside of the box, beyond the typical comfort zone. He clearly wants this to be much more than just a horror novel, but a story with a lasting and pervasive social message. The thing is, there is a lot of horror out there (Stephen King’s The Stand) that does this, yet people can’t see past the horror category to accept it as anything of substance.

While I commend Percy for his work, there is a great deal of meat (pun possibly intended) to this novel, both in word count and in message. There were parts that I felt seemed to drag on a bit and then also things that I felt could have been detailed further. It almost feels as though this is two novels condensed into one. Perhaps if they had been two individual pieces, Percy could have expounded upon some things without having to restrain his word count. While I appreciated the entirety of this novel, the potential for readers’ interest to wane is great simply due to the page count.

I do plan on listening to the audio book; reviews of Percy’s narration have steeped my interest. Perhaps this is a novel meant to be listened to as opposed to being read. Perhaps I’m just rambling and have no idea what I’m talking about.

In any case, I do recommend this book due to the social commentary and the “out of the box” thinking regarding werewolves and lycans. Do bear in mind the page length; your patience will be ultimately rewarded. Recommended.

Listen to a clip of the audio book. Yep, sounds like horror to me!

2 thoughts on “Frightful Friday: Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

  1. I am about halfway through this right now and really enjoying it, though I feel like it’s taken a long time to set up. Hoping that it’s worth it in the end…

    Did you have a galley of this one or the final book? I have an e-galley and the drug is not called Lupex in mine, it’s Vorpexx or Volpexx (don’t have the book in front of me and now I can’t recall exactly!). Just curious – I always think changes like that from galley to final book are intriguing and wonder at the motivation behind them.



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