The Stray by Amanda Geisler
A young adult novella in the same stream as Vampire Diaries, Teen Wolf and New Moon, The Stray follows the perspective of a number of supernatural teens living in small-town New Jersey. Rya Garcia, a werewolf and the heir to position of alpha to her pack, makes a bold move when she insists on breaking a stray werewolf out of captivity in order to help preserve the secrecy of their existence. She uses her influence with Zac, the son of the town's resident werewolf researcher, to gain entry onto the compound where the stray is kept, but quickly discovers that interest in her kind is much more prolific and advanced than any of them had known.
Geisler begins her story with impact, straight into the action of a wolfpack meeting out in the forest at night. Rya attends with her trusty sidekick Toby, and puts forward her suggestion about the stray to Erik, the bitter, angry black wolf who has forced his way into power over the rest of the werewolves in the absence of Rya's parents. The lore of werewolves is clearly significant to the author, and is woven throughout the story.
From here, some of the pacing was a little off, meaning that significant characters weren't consistently present throughout the story or were introduced quite late in the piece, undermining some of their impact, leading to some confusion and sometimes lacking in adequate consequences for total satisfaction of storytelling. Though not my favourite of the wide cast of characters, I appreciate what Geisler was aiming for in her creation of Rya, an independent, strong young female lead. Her aggression got the better of her several times throughout the story, and I hope this will backfire on her in future stories to create more drama and conflict as she attempts to assert her dominance. I connected more with Toby, who I thought was fun and loyal, very much depicted as the friendly puppy at Rya's side, and Colby, though I wish he was in the story sooner. His mildness and togetherness gave some balance to the rash cast of younger characters whose recklessness gets the story started. There were also some questions left unanswered about how the human population had become aware of the wolves in the first place, and Erik's human backstory. With two more books in the series yet to be released, and with Geisler just starting out in her authorial career, it can be hoped that these characters and subplots are more fully developed in coming stories.
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