Review: Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson

Claire de Lune  - Christine   Johnson

My partner and I love to take road trips. Sometimes for a specific reason, sometimes for no reason at all except to feel a little freer. It can be a bit claustrophobic living downtown, all the buildings pressing in on you and surrounded by neighbours who talk to their hands and insist on leaving couches lying in the street outside our apartment building. A couch has no place outdoors. However, I don't drive. So it's always left down to my partner to get us safely to out destination and scarily this can be somewhat dicey as he always, inexplicably falls asleep at the wheel. I'm not talking after hours of driving in the dark, the street lights all bleeding into one as his eyes grow heavy due to the endless concentration. I'm talking about at like, 2 o'clock in the afternoon, an hour into our journey. I ask him why?!! How does this happen every time?!! He tells me the motion of the car, the sounds of the engine lull him to sleep. What?!! My partner has been driving for 25 years, you'd think he would have learned by now that whilst driving is not an ideal time to take a nap. It's kind of a necessity that while your controlling what is potentially a lethal weapon weighing over a ton that you fucking stay awake!! So my task for our little impromptu trips is always to shake him every 10 minutes, open and close the windows and crank the radio right up. Sorta takes some of the magic out of the day when I'm wondering at what point we're gonna end up in the ditch.


You know another situation where it's beneficial not to fall asleep? Whilst reading. Sure, it's not life threatening if you happen to nod off with a book in your hand, but it sure helps you make some headway into the story if every time you pick it up, the next thing you remember is not waking up in a puddle of drool, a painful crick in your neck and desperately wondering what you're now late for this time.


Claire de Lune is like a sedative. Every time I sat down to read it my head grew heavy, my limbs turned to lead, my breathing got deeper until I was fast asleep and my pets saw their opportunity to sink their claws into my leather couch, eat my house plants and play all the other pranks they delight in having me wake up to when they spy that I decided to take an afternoon nap. If you have trouble falling asleep, your problems will be over if you pick up this book.


You'll also enjoy it if you love reading about constant mother-daughter arguments, diving into giant plot holes and logic leaps and listening to a teenager angst and fret for 336 pages. If this doesn't sound like your idea of an engaging and enthralling adventure, then step away from the book.


Claire is having just the bestest time ever at her wicked 16th birthday party when - Oh My Gawd - she begins turning into a werewolf, all the while falling for Hawt Matthew. Claire's mother reveals that night that her family are part of an ancient bloodline of werewolves, all the women beginning their transformation at 16 years old. All of a sudden Plain Claire's life gets a lot more interesting - she must learn to deal with the reality of her true identity and figure out a way to keep it a secret from nice-but-dull Matthew and her best friend, Stereotype Emily. And the worst of it? There's a rogue werewolf on the loose, murdering innocent townspeople and Matthew's father, as some top scientist guy, is leading the hunt to track down and rid the town of werewolves forever.

Let's get this straight right now - Claire is painfully boring. She spends the majority of the book, sitting in the corner, wringing her hands, quietly worrying. We are assured over and over of how plain, how violently ordinary Claire is. She has one friend. She has no interests or hobbies, other that cultivating deep-seated anxiety. She has no hopes or dreams. She reads like a shell of a girl, a cardboard cutout waiting to be wheeled to the next destination so she can fret some more. The character development is really awful. Claire has no appeal, no face and no voice. One of her favourite activities is to bitch, whine and yell at her stressy mother, before flouncing off to her room and complaining that she won't give her answers to her debacle. If Claire could remain in the same room as her mother for longer than 30 seconds and actually sit down and have a sensible conversation with the woman, chances are she would learn all she needed to. But what with all the storming off and teenaged huffing, it's rather difficult to reach any conclusions about her burgeoning lycanthropic affliction. This all got rather tiring rather quickly.


The whole werewolf situation got rather tiring to be honest. And that's really not good considering this is a werewolf book. Not a single fuck was given in regard to logic. This world makes no sense. So humans are aware of the existence of werewolves - hyper aware. And yet no-one knows a damn thing about them. Everyone seems happy to see them trapped and brutally murdered or experimented on. Where are the Werewolf Rights activists? I'm sorry, but no matter what we're talking about there are always people with opposing opinions. And yet, the only person who's voice seems to carry any weight is Matthew's father, creepy-werewolf-hunter extraordinaire. He's testing his miracle cure on subjects that he's not even certain are genuine werewolves. So he's basically kidnapping innocent bystanders and pumping them full of drugs which force them into a coma of which, who knows when or even if they'll wake. And everyone is fine with this. This is not a problem.


When Matthew's father (I'm not sure if he is actually assigned a name so "Matthew's father" will have to do) finally manages to capture a real werewolf; a creature he has been perusing for his entire career, a discovery that will make all his promotional dreams come true and spell safety and peace for the townspeople, instead of studying and learning all he can about the "monster" he leaves it to starve to death in an unguarded self storage unit on some shady industrial estate, not a single security official or CCTV camera to be found, with the key to it's cage "hidden" in plain sight. What's up with that?! His son has been waltzing down there to play with and pet the creature, not a care in the world or even a door to worry about unlocking. Bizarre.


But then I guess, how can we expect the characters to have any knowledge of werewolves when the information the reader is given is sketchy at best? We are told that all werewolves are female. Okay. All boy babies are aborted naturally - something about the body rejecting the male foetus.


""So, what's different if it's a girl? How does her body know?" (Claire)
Her mother shrugged. "We can't be certain. Our legends say that the Goddess knows and protects Her own Unborn. But it is perhaps hormonal, chemical.""


So, in other words - who fucking knows? Let's just blame the Goddess. The mysterious Goddess is used as a convenient explanation for much of the lunacy of this book's logical missteps and yet, we know next to nothing about the werewolves' religion and beliefs. There's literally no satisfactory explanation for anything.


Why does the human-to-werewolf transformation begin the very second the werewolf reaches the age of 16? Aah - the Goddess.
Why does it take three months to transform completely into a werewolf? Well, the Goddess of course.
Why does a werewolf have to transform at the full moon? Uhm .... The Goddess? Duh.


This is shit. It's not good enough. It's like giving "Just because" as a reason for something. It's lazy and it's lame.


The laziest piece of storytelling in the entire book though has to be the discovery of the villain. Claire inexplicably discovers the identity of the rogue werewolf through that age-old, tried and tested method of leaping to conclusions through the medium of sunflowers. Yes. Sunflowers. The chick, who we later discover is the man-eating werewolf, had a sunflower in her apartment. Claire's mother somehow managed to snap a picture of the culprit with her face hidden behind a sunflower. So that undeniably links the girl who's apartment our darling, blundering Claire visited, and the blood-thirsty killer out for revenge. They must be the same person!! Right?!! Or maybe the girl just really liked sunflowers? And get this - maybe there are also sunflowers out in the world? Like, just growing places?!! Dear god, what a ridiculous "twist" ....


There's just so much bullshit in this story. It's exhausting. This is why I kept falling asleep!! Here's a cracker - the werewolves communicate through body language. We are assured that they're not telepathic:


""Werewolves have ESP?" (Claire)
"Not exactly," her mother said, sniffing the air. "You are reading my body language, the same as I am reading yours. And you can smell the chemical changes that come with shifting emotions. Your just translating it in your head, the way I do from English to French. It's part of the heightened senses that you will have from now on - even in your human form""


This is a crappy explanation. They are simply reading signals and smelling BO and yet, somehow they are able to convey complicated emotions, thought processes and ideas to each other. No. Not vague intentions. Not simply displeasure, direction or general mood - specific plans, entire sentences and explanations. No. Just no. Stop Ms Johnson. This is too absurd. Not. Physically. Possible. I don't care how much you plead and whine about how this is fantasy. This is fiction - anything is possible. No. This is not possible. In any world.


The ending is the worst. I don't even know what happened. One moment they're battling, nearly to the death, with The Big Bad Wolf, the devil incarnate. The next moment this evil murderer with the strength of 10 men is lying on the ground with a broken neck and Claire's mother is forced to perform some kind of mercy killing. What the fuck?!! I had no idea you could snap your goddam neck just by falling over. We'll all have to be far more careful in the future. We could die from tripping on a crack in the pavement. Someone might have to rip our fucking throat out to ease our goddam suffering. Like, what is that?!! And then Claire and Matthew just casually disposing of the body, like this is a regular Saturday night occurrence? -


"Yeah, so what did you guys get up to on the weekend?"
"Oh we dumped a corpse. You know - just same-old, same-old"




This book was so boring, so violently ridiculous and so poorly put together I don't think I even have the strength to pick up the sequel. I really don't want to risk being left with a head filled with nothing more than brain mush.


Over and out guys!!