Feeding the voracious demand for YA paranormal romance, Toronto author Emily Pohl-Weary’s Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl is a quick, smart take on the genre.
The story revolves around 18-year-old Sam, a paradoxically introverted rock star who is attacked by a werewolf after a gig one night, and becomes one herself – a situation that forces the vegetarian into a battle with her new animalistic tendencies.
Though generally strong, Sam’s first-person voice sometimes falters in the opening chapter. Pohl-Weary’s phrasing is a bit forced, like an adult trying to imagine what a teen would think (at one point, Sam compares the strength of her crush on one of three potential love interests to drinking 12 espresso shots). However, this flaw is quickly remedied as the narrative progresses.
Pohl-Weary excels at taking the reader into Sam’s mind, building tension from mild concern to frenzied panic; her confusion and fear are palpable. But just when Sam seems to be reaching a breaking point, the author injects a moment of teenage normalcy or a calming voice of reason.
A handful of secondary characters, including a few female werewolves and two werewolf families, play pivotal roles in Sam’s life, but Pohl-Weary leaves their stories largely unexplored. Though this lack of development is disappointing, it does create an opening for a sequel.
With teenage angst, a love quadrangle, a fantasy element that should be silly but isn’t, and a strong female heroine who is anything but a hapless damsel in distress, Pohl-Weary’s latest YA title offers a welcome twist on the paranormal genre.