Friday, November 30, 2012

Sharing Good Books: Dust City

Dust City - by Robert Paul Weston

Who's afraid of the big bad wolf? His son, that's who.
Ever since his father's arrest for the murder of Little Red Riding Hood, teen wolf Henry Whelp has kept a low profile in a Home for Wayward Wolves...until a murder at the Home leads Henry to believe his father may have been framed.
Now, with the help of his kleptomaniac roommate, Jack, and a daring she-wolf named Fiona, Henry will have to venture deep into the heart of Dust City: a rundown, gritty metropolis where fairydust is craved by everyone-and controlled by a dangerous mob of Water Nixies and their crime boss leader, Skinner.
Can Henry solve the mystery of his family's sinister past? Or, like his father before him, is he destined for life as a big bad wolf?


If you have a soft spot for edgy kidlit and fairytale retellings, this is the book for you.
I was wandering the YA section of the main branch of the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh (where I used to live), when DUST CITY caught my eye. It sounded cute, I liked the idea of turning LRR on its head and exploring the story from the wolf's (son's) perspective in a more modern setting. One of 20 or so books I checked out, I kind of put off reading it because there were some I was a little more eager for. I totally did not expect this book to be what it was.

DUST CITY surprised me. A lot edgier than I expected, it dealt with some pretty powerful themes... drugs, gangs, elitism, racism, a child's relationship with an incarcerated parent, as well as the more standard outsider, awkward crush, and general conspiracy goodness. There was even a scene that's right up there with the most disturbing and graphic I've ever read. Yeah. Good stuff. 

I'm a sucker for world building. If it fails, you lose me. If you do it brilliantly, I'm pretty much blind to the negatives and sins, whatever they may be. I honestly can't tell you if I disliked anything about Dust City, because I was so fully immersed in the world. I love that in a book. Please take me somewhere I've never been and make me believe it. Weston made me believe. 

What I liked about this book--and what you might not like, if your idea of a great wolf is a sexy man who only chooses to turn furry to save the woman he loves--is that it really is like a fairytale all grown up. It feels like a fairytale. It's definitely fantasy...wolves, fairies, goblins, etc...but beautifully creepy fantasy. 

I loved the setting, and there's an interesting plot that's fun in it's own right, even as it explores some pretty heavy themes. Kids and teens deal with drugs everyday. If you don't think so, you're blind, naive, or both. This is a great book that deals with the issue of drugs without being like... drugs are bad, mmmk? Not to mention it's just fun. 

I don't know what I expected when I picked this up, but I never imagined it would be a book with so much depth. I'd recommend it to anyone with a strong stomach and a big imagination, especially if they enjoy fairytale retellings.

Also--this book only has 484 ratings on Goodreads. That kind of surprises me. If you want to read something a little different, with great characters that don't include a pretty yet klutzy heroine, please give this a try. These are just my thoughts and views, but I really do think the author is fantastically talented. 


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