Oct 10, 2013

Book Review: Skulk - Rosie Best

Title: Skulk
Author: Rosie Best
Release Date: October 1st 2013
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: eARC from NetGalley
To some, Meg Banks’ life might look perfect – she lives in a huge house in West London, goes to a prestigious school, and has famous parents. Only Meg knows the truth: her tyrannical mother rules the house and her shallow friends can talk about nothing but boys and drinking. Meg’s only escape is her secret life as a graffiti artist.
While out tagging one night, Meg witnesses the dying moments of a fox… a fox that shapeshifts into a man. As he dies, he gives Meg a beautiful and mysterious gemstone. It isn’t long before Meg realises that she’s also inherited his power to shift and finds an incredible new freedom in fox form.
She is plunged into the shadowy underworld of London, the territory of the five warring groups of shapeshifters – the Skulk, the Rabble, the Conspiracy, the Horde, and the Cluster. Someone is after her gemstone, however, someone who can twist nature to his will. Meg must discover the secret of the stone and unite the shapeshifters before her dream of freedom turns into a nightmare.
Skulk went straight to my to-read list the moment I learned what it was about. Graffiti, shapeshifters, magical stones, and London? Talk about original. Unfortunately, originality was all the book had going on and despite my best efforts to love Skulk, I didn't.

This book had a great start. The writing was very descriptive and Meg's voice was captivating, and even though she's the narrator, there was still this mystery to her, particularly her relationship with her horrific mother and just why an insanely rich girl like her would sneak out of her mansion at night and vandalize walls all over the city. Meg's character felt even more real with the mention of her weight struggle and lack of direction, and I'd be damned if I say I never rooted for her to get away from her miserable life.

The shapeshifting did give Meg a way out of her wretched home, but the story also went downhill from there—and that was pretty early on. It was unrealistic how easily Meg got used to shifting; I would have liked that to be harder for her because that's one of the main points of the story, right? For the most part, Skulk was predictable and it had spurts of unputdownable every once in a while but then it would go down emotional lane that distracted from the action and, frankly, just made me roll my eyes. With how gritty and roguish the atmosphere of the story was, I certainly didn't want heavy drama; I wanted death and blood and gore, and the book had those, but the crying just—ugh.

Skulk didn't lack in the complexity department, I have to give it that. There was a whole menagerie of characters, each distinct on their own, each equally suspicious. The main antagonist wasn't quite as rounded as I'd have liked, but defeating her honestly didn't feel as important as getting the shapeshifters to grow the hell up and unite against their common enemy. Complex, like I said, because they had varied ages, races, sexualities, beliefs, etc.

Although the romance was one of the predictable parts, I liked it because it was young, innocent, and artsy. Sadly, that came pretty late into the story, and by then I just wanted to finish reading. Skulk failed to keep my attention in its hold, making it a struggle to get through. The ending definitely left room for a sequel and despite my lack of love for this book, I still want one because there's just so much potential.

"Well, this is going to sound kind of weird, but do you mind if I sketch you?"
There's leftfield, and then there's "can I sketch you?" I blinked, while my brain went over its response options:
Like one of your French girls? Oh, my God, Meg don't you dare say that.


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