Review: Released

releasedReviewed by Jen

If you really love libraries –or if you really love dogs—you may enjoy this book more than I did. Or maybe not. I am not a dog person and I am not intimately part of the library world, but those were not my only issues with the story. Far more off putting were constant dog puns, the simplistic and too-easy acceptance of the supernatural among regular people, the cookie-cutter villains, and the nagging feeling like I was reading an episode of Scooby Doo. All that was missing was for someone to blame their troubles on “those meddling kids.”

Our main character is Liberty, a librarian trying to do good for the Ohio town where she was born. As the story begins, her library is burned to the ground and she is forced to start the service over inside an abandoned old academy. From the beginning, she is visited by a friendly sheepdog she quickly begins to see as a dear friend. She has no idea he is really the leader of a group of dog-shifters, cursed by werewolves to live below the building.

The werewolves hate libraries and love burning books. I don’t know why, but it’s a basic tenant of the world-building. The entire book, the wolves are trying to destroy the books with a single minded focus that just seemed to have no basis. Meanwhile, the dog-shifters love humans, books, and libraries, and consider it their mission to protect written history. Just in case you missed it: dogs = good guys; wolves = crazy book burning bad guys. This is very important and reinforced ad nauseum.

Basically the story follows Liberty’s efforts to make the library thrive as she and Cronus fall in love. She learns his secrets and they work together to break the curse and save the town from the Very Bad Wolves Who Really Hate Books. The relationship is nice (though it’s very clean. No love scenes here.) Unfortunately, it was the only part of the book I liked. Everything is just so black and white –and convenient. Like when the Good Guys decide they are going to put a new mayor in office, it just happens. Or when Cronus decides to take Liberty to the trendy werewolf bistro, he gets in with no trouble. Or Liberty’s reunion with some very important people. And so on and so on. Plus… the dog thing is really stressed. The shifters are dogs more often than not and it’s really hard to think of them as exciting or remotely sexy. They’re… dogs. And Lord save me from all the horrible puns “doggone” “dog fight” “howling” etc. (*shudder*)

It was just too cutesy for my taste… too simple. Very little character depth; nor did it evoke any emotion or excitement. Not for me.

Rating: C-/D+

*Book provided for judging in RONE awards

Click to purchase: Amazon

Released: The Shapeshifters’ Library
by Amber Polo
Release Date: September 12, 2013
Publisher: Blue Merle Publishing

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