Friday, 13 September 2013

Review: Skulk


Publication Date: October 1st 2013        
Source: An advanced copy was provided by  Strange Chemistry in exchange  for an honest review.

To some, Meg Banks’ life might look perfect – she lives in a huge house in West London, goes to a prestigious school, and has famous parents. Only Meg knows the truth: her tyrannical mother rules the house and her shallow friends can talk about nothing but boys and drinking. Meg’s only escape is her secret life as a graffiti artist.

While out tagging one night, Meg witnesses the dying moments of a fox… a fox that shapeshifts into a man. As he dies, he gives Meg a beautiful and mysterious gemstone. It isn’t long before Meg realises that she’s also inherited his power to shift and finds an incredible new freedom in fox form.

She is plunged into the shadowy underworld of London, the territory of the five warring groups of shapeshifters – the Skulk, the Rabble, the Conspiracy, the Horde, and the Cluster. Someone is after her gemstone, however, someone who can twist nature to his will. Meg must discover the secret of the stone and unite the shapeshifters before her dream of freedom turns into a nightmare.

The night Meg snuck out of her bedroom to leave her mark behind her schools wall as graffiti artist Thatch, she gets a little more than she bargained for in the form of a dying fox...that transforms into a human right in front of her eyes and hands her a stone. On a night out with friends, on the verge of getting attacked Meg...shifts into a fox, and within doing so gets sucked into an underworld of rivalry and the power of The Skulk- the foxes, like her, and other shape shifters. The Rabble- The Butterflies The Horde- The rats, the Cluster- The Spiders and the Conspiracy- The Ravens.

Meg loves the new found freedom she has never had, and the feeling of belonging, but when a threat that attacks them all, and bodies pile up, and stones go missing, Meg's freedom has come up at a higher stake than she ever thought.

Let's start by saying Skulk was a really nice surprise.

I haven't read anything like t before, I've read shape shifters, mainly werewolves, which however you look at it, is or isn't. So I was pleasantly surprised with Skulk, this time since I had an advance c, I didn't look at goodreads, it's ratings or review, so I started with no expectations. It was actually refreshing, since I'm the type that  only reads a book based on its ratings, and reviewers whom seem to have the same taste/thoughts on what makes a book really good. I should do it more often.
I like reading books that are based in London, but if I'm honest, I really dislike the slang. Kind of grates on me after a while, and while I don't have a problem with swearing ( since, really, I swear a lot) there are certain words that I really dislike and find disgusting so that really knocked the enjoyment scale down a little for me, but hey, it was only used once. Saying that, there are a lot of issues I'm going to bring up.
The first being parental abuse.

Now, Skulk is anything but an abuse book, though in general it is pretty graphic in the violent parts. And there's a lot of blood and gore. The most important issue, however, is at home. It was really hollow, and low- and while I won't say who the abuse is coming from, but it was a shock to me, since it's not the usual parental abuse you usually tag with it and whom. There was no reform, no remorse or any sentimental behaviour whatsoever. It's cold. I'm also going to bring up the homophobia issue I had with this book, mainly the way it was handled, which wasn't handled at all. And whereas it didn't really make me dislike Skulk, since it was minor, it just really made me dislike a certain character. So, I have a problem with that character and not the book. Which I guess everyone dislikes characters in certain books, it's a given. Even if I want to slap that poignant little bastard...(See about the swearing?)
Now the bad parts are out of the way, let's get onto the good parts, and luckily there's a lot of them!
  • The blood and gore

I'm pretty unaffected by blood and gore when reading.
Now, watching it is a whole different thing. I'm squeamish.
  • Swearing

I'm always a fan of swearing in YA books, as long as they are an older YA, it just makes things more realistic. Though, it doesn't effect it either way. 
  • Shifting
 I loved reading the description of the shifting, or should I say real shifting. Spine tingling, bones breaking and bending, shifting. You know, it's bound to hurt.  Though, there's also a downside, I don't know if it's just me, but there's a few animal "fight" scenes, and sorry but a fox and a butterfly...
  • The characters

Well, some characters. Some I could do without.
Speaking of...
Meg has a distinctive voice, she's rich, has a fancy house, pretty much anyone would want, right? I thought I'd be reading from the POV of, to put it bluntly, a snobby bitch. But no, so wrong. She may have those things, but Meg's lost. She's confined, she's stuck in a box and what she eats, drinks is controlled. She's been manipulated, and she doesn't even see what's being done to her. Okay, she knows but it's like it's been so long she thinks it's normal. It's not. She has her solace though, through her appreciation of art and speaking through graffiti. Which, believe me, is  fun to watch. (I was not there when somebody graffitied my high schools' art room wall. Honest.) After shifting, she also found a sense of freedom that she needed, and it kind of opened her eyes to the world.
Megs parent's are...well. Let's just say I liked what happened to them. :)

Addie becomes like this little sister Meg never had once she joins the Skulk. Meg worries about her and wants to look out for her because Addie's never had anyone looking out for her before. She's homeless and lives in her own den, and she prefers to live as a fox and not human, she's also this little scrappy thing.
Mo is perfect for Meg, same interests, same underground activities. He was protective and supportive, which also stabilised Meg a little.
Overall, I had a few problems with Skulk, but the good out ways my issues, and it's definitely interesting, and more importantly, the characters are realistic and relatable.
Rating: 4/5