At the beginning of this year, I reviewed Suleikha Snyder’s short story anthology, Prem Numbers, and said Snyder wrote “radical hope and face sitting.” I’m a fan of her work. She is not a low angst author. Her lovers are passionate. Her stories have all the angst and agony of love in a world that will punish people for looking the wrong way and loving the wrong way. She carves out pockets of safe space for her characters to love in and it feels like a respite from the world. In Big Bad Wolf, she takes all that and then dials it up to 11.
Imagine if the administration elected into power in November of 2016 had been more competent in their authoritarianism. In Big Bad Wolf, The United States has moved into an authoritarian, surveillance state dystopia, with a few veneers of democracy still remaining. On top of that, the public has only recently learned about supernaturals. The armed forces, of course, have been experimenting with turning soldiers into shifters for a while.
I’ve written, deleted, and rewritten this review so many times because I keep falling into the trap of retelling the plot as if I’m a toddler telling anyone who will listen about their favorite episode of Paw Patrol. The plot is a wild ride and Suleikha Snyder does a much better job of telling her story than I do. The basics: Joe was turned into a wolf shifter while he was a soldier. He thinks being a killer is all he has to offer and has turned vigilante. Neha is a psychologist turned lawyer, part of the team hired to defend Joe. They strike sparks immediately with verbal sparring, eye fucking and some serious pining. When an attack on Joe’s life sends them on the run, it’s all exploding lust and feelings. Outside of Joe and Neha, there is a whole underground world of shifters and magical beings waiting to come to light.
Snyder brings her love of soap operas to her world building in Big Bad Wolf. This is the first book in a series, so she is building a world and introducing characters and hinting at their future stories. The folks at Third Shift Security start to populate the novel and become intriguing characters on their own right without stealing focus from Neha and Joe*. There are a couple of significant fight scenes, which is not something I’ve read from Snyder before, and she writes it so well. The fight scenes solidified my 5 star rating, because she clearly communicates the violence and chaos while keeping in character growth and emotional epiphanies. When I finished I almost cried at how long I have to wait for the next book. I am anxious for more of this world and just from this book I can see so many stories I want to read. I feel like the direction this is going is the team working to put a world that has gone wrong to rights and creating a safer place for them to live and love.
Joe isn’t going to be everyone’s favorite kind of hero. He’s moody and keeps trying to do the right thing for Neha without listening to Neha’s opinions. Big Bad Wolf is very much a redemption story for him. I am bouncing in my seat waiting for Pretty Little Lion.
If you like the title of this review, it’s a quote from the book.
*Except for Finn. The vampire steals every scene he is in.
I received an advance reader copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.