I just finished reading Bestial: Werewolf Apocalypse and I must say, I have mixed thoughts on it.
First and foremost, it’s a good story. It’s all about werewolves, naturally, and it’s a damn good werewolf book. It’s got gruesome descriptions of werewolves eating people and destroying everything.
The story follows four survivors of the apocalypse as they try to stay safe for the three nights that there is a full moon. These four, unlikely friends for the most part, all band together to keep their lives intact.
I first found this book at Half Price Books and was intrigued from the start… it’s a werewolf book where over 95% of the population turns into werewolves. The population just so happens to be of the greater Cincinnati area, and since I’m a native Cincinnatian, I couldn’t resist.
Now here’s where the mixed thoughts come in to play. I’m a native of Cincinnati, so I know the layout of the area. The author, William D. Carl, isn’t from here. I don’t know that based on an “About The Author” page in the book, or his website, of which there is none. I based this knowledge off of his description of Cincinnati in several parts of his book.
Now, I’m not going to go into the rant I have about doing research for your book if you plan on writing one, which I’m saving for my second blog entry on Good Reads, but I will say that if you plan on writing a book in a city that you’ve never been to, or know very little of, DO YOUR RESEARCH. It can make or break a book.
Naturally for those who haven’t been to Cincinnati or know very little about it, these issues are mute. But for me, they were a breaking point for the book. The story was good, but it wasn’t good enough to cover the errors in the facts of the city that Carl put into it.
For instance, in one part of his book two of the survivors are walking down 6th Street in downtown Cincinnati and they look across the street at the Greater Cincinnati Airport. That just doesn’t work, because the Greater Cincinnati Airport isn’t even in Ohio, let alone Cincinnati. It’s about 20 minutes away in Northern Kentucky. I’m not sure if you can even see the skyline of Cincinnati from the airport.
Another issue with the book is that he mentions the Aronoff Center, which we do have here, only he spelled it Aranoff. Typing “Aranoff” into Google will bring up search suggestions, all of which have the proper spelling of the Center. Carl obviously didn’t even do this.
As far as the streets go, which he names quite a bit in the book, he did fine, which Google Maps can help anyone with, however, he mentions State Route 71 in part of the book. We don’t have a State Route 71, we have an Interstate 71. Two totally different things. He should learn the difference between State Routes and Interstates.
Finally, he gets his characters to the river where all of the bridges have been bombed to keep the werewolves from crossing into Kentucky, and Carl mentions the Brent Spence Bridge. We do have that. However, he says of the bridge that it is “one of the largest suspension bridges in the world.” No, it’s not, and no, it’s not.
It’s not one of the largest bridges in the world, and it’s not a suspension bridge. It’s a Double Decker Cantilever Truss Bridge, not a suspension bridge, and it’s a normal sized bridge. The Roebling Bridge downtown is a suspension bridge, built by the same guy who did the Brooklyn Bridge, and even it’s in the 100′s on the list of the largest in the world. That naturally says the Brent Spense, which crosses the same river, is going to be right around the same size, putting it nowhere near one of the largest in the world.
There were other errors with the book, such as a werewolf, in one part of the book, is clawing at the underside of a flipped Brink’s truck and it rips the carburetor off of the bottom of the truck. Carburetor’s are found under the hood of vehicles that were made 10-15 years ago, not of vehicles today. Unless Brink’s builds their trucks completely differently than anything else on the road, I seriously doubt the werewolf would have ripped it off from the bottom of the truck.
One other issue I had with the book was his overuse of big words. This is a book about werewolves, not a scholastic publishing. Using big words is fine, but to use them constantly and all throughout the book is a bit much for the type of book it is, and I felt it detracted from the book instead of adding to it. There was no need for all of them.
Aside from all of that, the story itself was great and I was engaged with it all throughout, even after I decided to stop reading before the end because of the errors about Cincinnati. I was close enough to the end that I decided to finish it, and it actually had a very good ending. I definitely recommend it, but do pay heed to the errors I mentioned, as they bring the book down a notch or two.
To compare, my book, Hand One Is Dealt, takes place in many different parts of the world and I haven’t been to any of them, save for a couple near Cincinnati that I mentioned. I had to do a lot of research for my book to make it somewhat close to reality, and I hope I did a good job of it. Unless someone tells me I was wrong with what I said about a certain area I won’t know, but the research I did was a whole lot more than what Carl apparently put into his book.
I read reviews of his book where people said things like “The kind of debut novel authors dream of writing” and “Carl is an accomplished writer, and this is an excellent first novel” and I think to myself, if that’s true, then I should be a New York Times best selling author.
Maybe I’m a little bitter that he gets rave reviews and I’ve yet to hear one about my book, and maybe I’m a little bitter that my book was turned down by every agent and publishing company I shopped it to, but while doing my research on Carl and his book I discovered he’s got a page at Simon and Schuster. If writing badly researched books gets book deals, then I’m going to stop spending so much time with my work and just put out a few hundred pages of crap. Then maybe I’ll get that best seller spot.
I gave this book 3 of 5 stars, only because the story was good, but it should have got a 2 or a 1 with the errors of Cincinnati it had in it.