This book had a really cool concept that just did not work here — I thought I would be reading some good horror, and ended up with a slightly bloodier Twilight.
“It was possible, I saw now, to be a grotesque, to be huge and free, to wander the streets in utter freedom despite your atrocity, as long as you did it when everybody else was sealed inside their little lit boxes. Now it made sense – why monsters came out at night.”
About 100 pages into When We Were Animals, the main character’s boyfriend tries to rape her. He takes her out into the forest, throws her on the ground, and says “I’m going to have sex with you”. She lies there, and says no. He says it again, and takes off his pants. She says no, still lying there. It goes on for a minute, and then he decides he just can’t do it — he can’t soil her. She feels disappointed that he won’t RAPE HER, and takes off crying. I knew at that point that I was going to hate the rest of the book, but I was already 1/3rd of the way in, so I finished it. I was right.
So the main character, Lumen, grows up in a town where all the teenagers “run breach” for about a year of their lives. At some point in their development, they gets these urges to run and howl and fight and fuck for the 3 days of the full moon. Everyone in town just accepts it, since they all did it, too. Lumen, however, seems immune — she hasn’t really developed, hasn’t started her period, and hasn’t started to breach. While all of her friends (and her useless boyfriend) run wild around her, she stays home with her widower father, wearing white nighties and doing homework. She’s a perfect little girl, and hates herself for it.
This is one of those books that seems like it’s about monsters (teenagers running wild!) and ends up being a couple of whiny kids. Lumen’s whole personality is about how good she is, sweet and pure. Her boyfriend tells her over and over how much he loves that purity, as he runs rampant 3 days a month and screws all of her friends. She gets somewhat involved with the bad boy at school, and lets him walk all over her, too. It’s just a bad, disappointing book.