Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver

Wolf Brother
Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A friend from college recommended this series for my eight-year-old daughter. I’d intended to preview it before introducing it to my daughter—I don’t censor for content, but I do try to keep her away from bad writing—but as often happens, she got to it before I did. She read Wolf Brother over the course of about a day and a half over vacation, and raved about the book. Once we got home, I had to play catch-up.

I finished the book last night, and it was pretty good. It follows a fairly standard pattern for children’s literature. The protagonist is ostracaized because he’s special, but it turns out that he’s the only one who can save the world, so he embarks upon a quest. There’s been a prophecy—and it’s a kids book—so we’re pretty sure he’ll succeed, but will this success mean he’s finally accepted by his fellow humans? With the male protagonist with the new-found female friend and the quest and the spirit guide, it reminded me a bit of Isabel Allende’s City of Beasts.

Even though it follows the pattern, Paver’s managed to make it fresh and interesting with her attention to detail and her dynamic and (mostly) nuanced characters. It also helps that her setting—prehistoric Europe—is fairly unique and interesting in itself. The thing that drew me through the book, though, was Torak’s relationship with Wolf. I could almost hear the wolf-language they used to communicate, and Paver did a great job of conveying their connection.

I felt a little irritated by how obvious it was within the plot of this story that it would be part of a series. It lacked an explicit “TO BE CONTINUED…” at the end, but it didn’t need one to get the message across. Even so, the writing was decent, and I don’t mind my daughter reading more of this series. It’s probably good for her to become familiar with the conventions of serial fiction anyway, I figure. We’ve got the second book of the series on hold at the library, so it looks like we’ll be following Torak for a while. With any luck, the rest of the series will be as enjoyable to read as this one was.

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