The Wolves Are Waiting by Natasha Friend

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc, arc, and finished copy from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: The Wolves Are Waiting

Author: Natasha Friend

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 1/5

Diversity: Chinese character, Haitian character

Recommended For…: I don’t recommend this book AT ALL

Publication Date: March 22, 2022

Genre: YA Contemporary

Age Relevance: 16+ (date rape, attempted sexual assault, rape, sexism, HP mentions, romance, slut shaming, language, drugs)

Explanation of Above: The book revolves around an incident where our MC is given a date rape drug and is almost sexually assaulted. The events are described and rape and other incidents of date rape drugs being used is also mentioned throughout the book. The book also talks a lot about sexism and slut shaming. There is some romance between two characters and there is slight cursing in the book. There are also drugs mentioned occasionally. Unfortunately, there are also 6 HP mentions in the book in a positive manner, one of them being a page and a half long and others being at least a paragraph. The ending also makes an allusion to a scene from HP.

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 370

Synopsis: Before the night of the Frat Fair, 15-year-old Nora Melchionda’s life could have been a Gen-Z John Hughes movie. She had a kind-of boyfriend, a spot on the field hockey team, good grades, and a circle of close friends. Of course there were bumps in the road: she and her lifelong BFF Cam were growing apart and her mother was trying to clone her into wearing sensible khakis instead of showy short skirts. But none of that mattered, because Nora always had her dad, Rhett Melchionda, on her side. Rhett was not only Nora’s hero, but as the Athletic Director of Faber College, he was idolized by everyone she knew.

Now, Nora would give anything to go back to that life. The life before whatever happened on the golf course.

She doesn’t want to talk about it—not that she could, because she doesn’t remember anything—and insists that whatever happened was nothing. Cam, though, tries to convince Nora to look for evidence and report the incident to the police. And then there’s Adam Xu, who found Nora on the golf course and saw her at her most vulnerable. She ignores it all, hoping it will all go away. But when your silence might hurt other people, hiding is no longer an option.

The Wolves Are Waiting begins in the aftermath of an attempted assault, but reaches farther than a story about one single night or one single incident. What Nora and her friends will uncover is a story that spans generations. But it doesn’t have to anymore.

Review: This will not be a happy review. While I thought that the base story was good and there were some good parts about it that young girls should read, especially revolving around how slut shaming and sexism are not okay and how some frats can be unsafe spaces, I was extremely disappointed in the book for numerous reasons. The biggest reason is the inclusion of HP in the book. I don’t have any idea why the author, in this day and age, thought the inclusion of HP was a good idea. The mentions are not just one and done, there’s at least one that’s a page and a half of text and the ending includes an allusion to what’s going on to a scene from the HP books. Writing a book that’s pro-female is great except when you exclude trans women from your book and the inclusion of the amount of HP references makes me think that the author wanted to exclude trans women. There’s also not any trans women, queer women, or hardly any women of color in the book with the exception of one Haitian character, and again you can’t talk about feminism and you can’t be pro-female unless you include ALL females. The HP issues alone caused me to knock the book down to a 1 star due to my review policy, but there are further issues in the book that are equally as troubling. There’s a character that is pro-female but doesn’t call out the sexist and misogynistic jokes and comments her own boyfriend makes until much later. The boyfriend had been making these comments for a very long time in the text, before they got together, and I’m confused as to why she would even want to get with someone like that. The book also has a moment between the MC who had been date raped and a character who was found to be a big part of the ongoing issues in the book. After one event where the character brings tiki torches and makes a sort of apology, the MC and others accept that character back into the fold. It’s extremely troubling that some of the male characters in the book are almost infantilized in the text, that they do the bare minimum and get accepted back to where they previously were. Even when the male characters are asked to be held responsible, the book doesn’t offer any real conclusion on if they were or not and the issue becomes null when the book and author pick and choose who it will punish and who it won’t when all actors made equally as horrifying choices. This fact troubled me greatly while reading this book. The book was also very fast paced and had a few continuity errors, where stuff was brought up multiple times. I also thought the characters weren’t developed, especially the MC past her trauma which is a whole other issue I had with the book, and  the world building was way too simple.

Verdict: I don’t recommend this book at all. There are better ones that talk about the issues this book tries to talk about in a better and more inclusive manner.

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