I am officially ahead of schedule. I thought I would be reading this after Spookathon, but instead I am up to my next book more than a week early. Jones refers to Mongrels as his favorite book (on Goodreads I think it was). I have also read a couple other things by him that I enjoyed. His short story, Spindly Man, struck gold in my book. Then Mapping the Interior and The Last Final Girl were confusing but satisfying. Despite the issues I have with Jones, they are always cast aside by his technique and originality. That originality is what brings me back and will hopefully bring me back again!
I really enjoyed this novel. It was well written, charming, and entertaining. It is a coming of age story of a boy in a family of werewolves. Except, this boy has yet to change, so we read as he grows up around it all the while desiring it for himself. Jones creates a unique mythos for this world of werewolves that is similar to the classic tale but different in subtle and often hilarious ways. It is a story that has depth, and I bet there is a lot I could gain from rereading this. There in lies my one issue with the book which again revolves around confusion with the structure.
The story is told from two different narratives (with two different narrators) of the same boy and family just at different ages and different locations. One of the many facts about werewolves is their need to be on the move for their own safety (some of it feels analogous to racism in the south). My problem was trying to navigate the story overall. I got the big picture, and during each section of the story, I was engrossed in what was going on in the moment. The problem was with how it all connected. The overarching story was confusing. Knowing this author, I have to believe he has a very clear intent with how he wrote this. Never was I not entertained, and I leave this book more inclined to reread it than the average book. In that way, I think it did what it was supposed to do: entertain and make me want to keep reading.
Nevertheless, this go around, I can’t help but rate it based on my current experience. 4.5/5 Stars rounding down but probably one of my favorites of the year, even though it wasn’t a 5 star.
PS: Since I am ahead, there is a good chance I may dive into one Jones’ short story collections. Included in that is Spindly Man, yay me, all the more reason if I get to read that again!