Ox was twelve when his daddy taught him a very valuable lesson. He said that Ox wasn’t worth anything and people would never understand him. Then he left.
Ox was sixteen when he met the boy on the road, the boy who talked and talked and talked. Ox found out later the boy hadn’t spoken in almost two years before that day, and that the boy belonged to a family who had moved into the house at the end of the lane.
Ox was seventeen when he found out the boy’s secret, and it painted the world around him in colors of red and orange and violet, of Alpha and Beta and Omega.
Ox was twenty-three when murder came to town and tore a hole in his head and heart. The boy chased after the monster with revenge in his bloodred eyes, leaving Ox behind to pick up the pieces.
It’s been three years since that fateful day—and the boy is back. Except now he’s a man, and Ox can no longer ignore the song that howls between them.
This author… He gives readers no choice but to fall in love with the characters he creates. Then he slowly tortures them both physically and emotionally until he eventually and just as slowly, puts the pieces of their lives back together again. I both love and hate him for that…
Wolfsong was written in mostly double-titled chapters, so depending on how you look at it, Ox didn’t even meet Joe (the boy) until the 3rd (or 5th) chapter. That’s okay though, because the quality time that readers spent with Ox was necessary. Klune used those introductory chapters wisely. One of the things that I love most about this author is his ability to make his characters ‘real’. As much as I was impatiently waiting for Ox and Joe to finally meet, I really appreciated that one-on-one time I got to spend with Ox. Being in Ox’s head was a unique experience even from the beginning. He never had a high opinion of himself (I’m still mad at his father), just one of the many reasons that I couldn’t help but love him from the very beginning. It’s really hard to explain, but basically, readers were given the opportunity to experience Ox’s growth from a awkward boy into a somewhat less awkward young man.
And then there was Joe… I’m not surprised that the most quoted line out of this book was “candy canes and pinecones and epic and awesome” because that’s pretty much what Wolfsong was… but it was so much more than that. I promise not to give anything away, but the moment that Joe and Ox finally meet is too amazing not to share…
There was a boy standing in the dirt road, watching me. His nose was twitching and his eyes were wide. They were blue and bright. Short blond hair. Tanned skin, almost as much as mine. He was young and small and I wondered if I was dreaming again.
“Hello.” I said.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“Ox? Ox! Do you smell that?”
I sniffed the air. I didn’t smell anything other than the woods. “I smell trees,” I said.
He shook his head. “No, no, no. It’s something bigger.”
He walked toward me, his eye going wider. Then he was running.
He wasn’t big. He couldn’t have been more than nine or ten. He collided with my legs, and I barely took a step back. He started climbing me, hooking his legs around my thighs and pulling himself up until his arms were around my neck and we were face to face. “It’s you!”
He was in my arms now. I didn’t want him to fall. He took my face in his hands and squished my cheeks together. “Why do you smell like that?” he demanded. “Where did you come from? Do you live in the woods? What are you? We just got here. Finally. Where is your house?” He put his forehead agains mine and inhaled deeply. “I don’t get it!” he exclaimed. “What is it?” And then he was crawling up and over my shoulders, feet pressed against my chest and neck until he clambered onto my back, arms around my neck, chin hooked on my shoulder. “We have to go see my mom and dad,” he said. “They’ll know what this is. They know everything.”
He was a tornado of fingers and feet and words. I was caught in the storm.
And then it gets better….
He started spinning his storm again, voice rising up and down, words forcefully punctuated without pattern. “Mom! Mom, you have to smell him! It’s like…like…I don’t even know what it’s like! I was walking in the woods to scope out our territory so I could be like Dad and then it was like…whoa. And then he was all standing there and he didn’t see me at first because I’m getting so good at hunting. I was all like rawr and grr but then I smelled it again and it was him and it was all kaboom! I don’t even know! I don’t even know! You gotta smell him and then tell me why it’s all candy canes and pinecones and epic and awesome.”
They all stared at him as if they’d come across something unexpected. Mark had a secret smile on his face, hidden by his hand.
“Is that so?” the woman finally said. Her voice wavered like it was a fragile thing. “Rawr and grr and kaboom?”
“And the smells!” he cried.
“Can’t forget about those,” the man next to her said faintly. “Candy canes and pinecones and epic and awesome.”
“Didn’t I tell you ?” Mark said to them, “Ox is…different.”
Epic and awesome indeed… So ‘epic and awesome’ that I’m ashamed of how long it’s taken me to sit down and write my review. The thing is, I always have a hard time writing reviews of books that I love. I know that there’s no way that I can come close to putting into words what makes a book like Wolfsong one that shouldn’t be ignored. There was just so much to love about it. Ox and Joe of course, but the rest of Joe’s family and Ox’s mom. Their friends and the ‘pack’ in general. *sigh*
Then there was the trademark TJ Klune moments that made me simultaneously love and hate the author. You guessed it, there were tears. Tears of joy, tears of laughter and gut wrenching, heart breaking tears. Lots and lots of ‘wookie cry face’ tears. As much as I hate to admit it, they were all worth it.
Beyond that, the world building and the author’s unique take on werewolves was awesome… I loved the way the wolves viewed certain aspects of life the way that more humans should. I loved Ox’s mother’s acceptance of who Ox was for no other reason than she loved him as a mother should. There’s really not much more that I can say other than I’m super excited that this is just the beginning of a new series. Now I need to go over my TBR list, I have some catching up to do with the rest of this author’s books. 😉