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Book review: DUST CITY by Robert Paul Weston

Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?

His son, that's who.

Ever since his father's arrest for the murder of Little Red Riding Hood, teen wolf Henry Whelp has kept a low profile in a Home for Wayward Wolves . . . until a murder at the Home leads Henry to believe his father may have been framed.

Now, with the help of his kleptomaniac roommate, Jack, and a daring she-wolf named Fiona, Henry will have to venture deep into the heart of Dust City: a rundown, gritty metropolis where fairydust is craved by everyone and controlled by a dangerous mob of Water Nixies and their crime boss leader, Skinner.

Can Henry solve the mystery of his family's sinister past? Or, like his father before him, is he destined for life as a big bad wolf?

If that synopsis doesn't make you want to buy this book RIGHT NOW, there is probably something wrong with you. Seriously? Who wouldn't want to read a book that is essentially the mutant offspring of every kids' fairytale known to man? Weston twists classic stories like Snow White, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, and plenty of others - but he does it so subtly that you may have to re-read a passage before you realize exactly which Disney princess just made an appearance in Dust City.

This was probably my favorite part of Weston's new novel - the richly developed storyworld that managed to incorporate so many fairytales and classic fantasy elements. The world-building was nearly flawless and completely engaging.

But this is not your kid sister's Cinderella retelling. This book has the fairytale version of heroin addicts, drug runners, genocide, caste systems, and genetic experimentation. It is hardcore; it is badass; and it is dark, dark dark. Kudos to Weston for finally writing a story worthy of the Brother's Grimm fables he satirizes.

I only had two real nitpicks with DUST CITY. One was probably unavoidable; the characters, in my opinion, were somewhat unrelateable - but since they weren't human, there's probably a very good reason for this. Henry and Fiona and pretty much all of the characters in this book are animals - talking, walking animals just like in Little Red Riding Hood. Which is completely awesome, but also kind of weird; because a makeout scene between two wolves, complete with tail-wagging and nuzzling, is never going to be particularly steamy for humans.

The second nitpick deals with the ending. I felt like Weston tried to pack a whole lot of revelatory information into a few very short chapters, and it sort of hurt my brain. There definitely weren't any loose threads, but once every plot thread was tied up, I was looking at a very large, very complex tapestry that was somewhat difficult to focus on.

That metaphor made sense when it was still inside my head.

Overall, DUST CITY gets 4 out of 5 stars and a hearty recommendation from this hardcore Brother's Grimm geek.

DUST CITY will be released by Razorbill/Penguin on September 30, 2010.
Kristin Briana Otts

Kristin is an aspiring YA author with an abiding love for her dog, ghost hunter tv shows, and rainy days.

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  1. Wow, this book sounds AMAZING. I love fairytale retellings, and this one definitely sounds like one of the better ones!

  2. I need this book. Now.

    I am so tempted to break my "no reading YA werewolf books" policy.

    1. Its not a werewolf book. The wolfs are more developed then they are now. They were never humans.

  3. Yep, totally reading this book. I'm putting it on my list right now. Thanks for the review!

  4. The opening paragraph had me. Didn't even need to read the rest. Putting this on my wish list right now.

  5. Heather: it IS one of the better ones!

    Kathleen: it's actually not a werewolf book. I thought so too when I picked it up, but nope - Henry is a real, honest-to-god teenage wolf. (Trust me, it makes sense when you read it.)

    Meredith: you're very welcome!

    Alexander: It's awesome!

    Janice: It only gets better from there. :)

  6. Well, I must say that I was wary of this book, but not anymore! It's definitely on my wishlist now, great review!

  7. I've had this galley since June, but it keeps getting pushed off the top of the pile. I knew it looked good...I'm going to have to move it back to the top!

  8. It's a great book if you love fairy tales and have a good imgination, but I'm not into those types, so I didn't even finish the book, seemed intresting though!


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Item Reviewed: Book review: DUST CITY by Robert Paul Weston Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kristin Briana Otts