Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Book Review: "Alpha Wolves" (DJ Swykert)

Author DJ Swykert is nothing if not dedicated to the industry. You can find my review of his book Maggie Elizabeth Harrington here.

Alpha Wolves is the sequel, rejoining Maggie Elizabeth's life a decade after the events recounted in the first novel.

Maggie Elizabeth, now known as simply Maggie because she's become a young woman, remains the point-of-view character in the work. Her voice is older, more mature, as she relates her continuing love for her childhood crush, Tommie Stetter, and her growing interest in Jeremy Paull, a young man who is clearly smitten with her.

After Tommie promised to return for her one day, he went away to school. Ten years later, he finally returns to town for the funeral of his father. At the very sight of him, Maggie knows that she has always loved him, despite his absence, and will continue to love him.

But his arrival also causes her great pain, for Tommie is now married with a beautiful young daughter. Not only did he lie to her in promising to return for her one day, he also betrayed her through marriage to another woman.

Nevertheless, perhaps naively, as Maggie herself admits more than once, she commits to continuing to love him, even when her relationship with Jeremy turns into an engagement and then into marriage. She falls into a kind of double life, leading one in public as the happily married Mrs. Jeremy Paull, and one in secret, meeting Tommie in one clandestine rendezvous after another to maintain their childhood love for one another.

Then she turns up pregnant. An accident at the mine where both Tommie and Jeremy work forces her hand. And her conscience awakens and begins to protest the double life she's been leading.

The final revelation is as comfortably familiar and inevitable as it is strikingly surprising.

The manuscript is tightly written, and Maggie's voice remains fascinating. She lives a detailed inner dialogue with the reader, explaining, justifying, planning, wondering, musing, and by the conclusion of the novel, she has matured even more than she clearly had at the beginning of the story.

Whereas, in Maggie Elizabeth Harrington, the antagonist was an external force (people within the community who wanted to harm the wolves Maggie was trying to protect), in the sequel, the antagonist is Maggie's own conscience and her sense of right and wrong. Is it right to continue to love both men in her life? Is it wrong to give herself to another man when she's already married? Is it wrong to want to be happy?

Such questions are those that drive the narrative forward and keep the reader, who by now empathizes with Maggie's dilemma and deep emotions, turning pages.

In a future edition of the work, a close line-by-line edit and work to break up the repetitively long paragraphs (which weighed down my interest in the story) would benefit the story line greatly, as would, perhaps, further effort to round out the other characters in the novel, like Jeremy Paull, in particular, as he's such a large part of the narrative.

Nonetheless, an admirable sequel to a memorable coming-of-age novel.

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Title: Alpha Wolves
Author: DJ Swykert
ISBN: 978-1311361646
Purchase here:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free from the author in exchange for an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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