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Review: “Wolfen” Thrives on Hope for Humanity

Cynthia Ayala ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

The quest for genetic perfection has led to the creation of a new subspecies—the Wolfen, the pinnacle of scientific achievements. But they weren’t all that was made when man played God. Their counterparts, the Converts—creatures more beast than man—brought the world to its knees. Two decades later, humans are on the brink of extinction, and those who survive have become as brutal as those who hunt them. Now three Wolfen are on a journey to change the course of the war—if they survive.

Photo Credit: The Jolly Wordsmith
Photo Credit: The Jolly Wordsmith

Wolfen, written by Alianne Donnelly and published December 21, 2014 by Smashwords, is a dystopian young adult novel about the world gone to hell by the hubris of man.

Donnelly has put together a very thoughtful post-apocalyptic novel. This novel doesn’t lose readers in a world that they may be unfamiliar with. Instead, it uses the modern world to build the dystopia from the ground up, and to create an unyielding emotional response from the reader. At the very beginning Donnelly shows the reader what happened to the world, and then builds off it, throwing the reader into the future. Donnelly records the destruction in short bits to ground the story and prepare the reader for the tale ahead. Her ability to create this very realistic setting is the key element that makes Wolfen intense and captivating.

What Donnelly has put together is an interesting story about the evolution and interference of man that also psychoanalyzes humankind. No longer at the top of the food chain, their savagery knows no bounds. Wolfen takes a thoughtful approach at what humanity is, and what they are capable of when push comes to shove. It’s written thoughtfully, with the structure and violence between the characters fitting within the realm of the story. These aren’t just characters that have turned malicious because that wanted to or had to; they made the choice to let loose those moral constraints they had to live by before the world went to hell.

This novel has a lot of world building, so don’t think that just because this is an eBook it’s going to be short.  At over 600 pages, this is a long novel, but that’s part of the charm of it. The world holds the book together without drowning the reader in the useless material. What is also amazing, and what makes the story so good, is that it’s not about undoing the tragedy that has befallen Earth, as most dystopian novels are. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope. Even when the world is burning all around, there is a speck of hope around the world—one that shouldn’t get lost, because without it there is no life worth surviving.

That aside, the characters were also very well written. These were not the typical caricatures within a survival story. Some of them fit the bill–most notably the villain–but the others have unique identities that set them apart. Alpha and Beta are two sides of the same coin, and Sinna may not be perfect, but she’s caring and hopeful. What’s better is that there is no sordid love triangle to get in the way of the characters building their dynamics with one another.

This novel is unique, and it is must read because it is a novel with no clichés. Donnelly took a stab at creating a psychoanalytic story about adventure and survival set within a dystopian universe. There is a lot of depth in her characters and the in the world she has built, which makes Wolfen a compelling novel worth reading.

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