Title: Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses
Author: Kristen O’Neal
Release Date: 27 / 4 / 21
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 30
(see below for breakdown)
I received a free physical copy from Quirk, via Black Crow PR in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Teen Wolf meets Emergency Contact in this sharply observed, hilarious, and heartwarming debut young adult novel about friendship and the hairy side of chronic illness.
Priya worked hard to pursue her premed dreams at Stanford, but a diagnosis of chronic Lyme disease during her sophomore year sends her back to her loving but overbearing family in New Jersey—and leaves her wondering if she’ll ever be able to return to the way things were. Thankfully she has her online pen pal, Brigid, and the rest of the members of “oof ouch my bones,” a virtual support group that meets on Discord to crack jokes and vent about their own chronic illnesses.
When Brigid suddenly goes offline, Priya does something out of character: she steals the family car and drives to Pennsylvania to check on Brigid. Priya isn’t sure what to expect, but it isn’t the horrifying creature that’s shut in the basement.
With Brigid nowhere to be found, Priya begins to puzzle together an impossible but obvious truth: the creature might be a werewolf—and the werewolf might be Brigid. As Brigid’s unique condition worsens, their friendship will be deepened and challenged in unexpected ways, forcing them to reckon with their own ideas of what it means to be normal.
First I would like to address what I can’t assess in this review. This book- mainly its cover has come under criticism for its depiction of those with South Asian Heritage. I obviously as a White Scot cannot attest to the representation in the book but can understand the criticisms of the cover choices and those that feel hurt by the white author choosing to write from a POC MC perspective. I urge you to find reviews -from those that have read the book with this heritage.
I can however speak to the Chronic Illness rep (which is where this book gets its own voices tag) and this is where the book shone for me. It has excellent descriptions of how it feels to deal with chronic illness on multiple levels. The group chat ‘oof ouch my bones’ felt very realistic, if felt like how I and friends communicate. How we feel about your various illnesses and the general experience of trying to get a diagnosis, the day to day experience, the hard days and the better days. This was a really nice to see that rep on the page. What did feel kind of weird is during the chat interface style portions of the text when images and gifs were sent it would just put the file name in the text and sometimes very little description of that that is which just seemed a little weird.
Overall the other plot was a little bland. The Werewolf concept was fun but not fantastically executed. The plot was the very standard unlikely friendship blossoms, they have a fight, tragic scare they make up. In fact I think the werewolf aspect kind of distracted from the chronic illness rep somewhat, reducing it down to cliches. The characters themselves were ok. We didn’t really get to know much more about them other than there illnesses and there ambitions that were quelled by said illnesses so they just felt kind of flat.
Overall this was a fast fluffy read that didn’t have all that much too it, but damn it was awesome to see some authentic feeling Chronic Illness Rep on a page.