Cover Image: Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses

Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses

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Member Reviews

This was a precious book. I think that Kristen O'Neal's first book was a hit. It was so much fun. Priya was a wonderful character, and the overall premise is so unique.
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I received an ARC through NetGalley from Quirk Books for this YA contemporary fantasy. Priya is diagnosed with chronic Lyme’s disease. She has to leave medical school and move back home. Through social media she finds a virtual support group for people with chronic illnesses. In the group she meets her new best friend who lives nearby, but what Brigid isn’t telling her support group is that she has lycanthropy. As Brigid is faced with challenge after challenge, their relationship blooms and their friends support continues to not waiver. 

This was a very satisfying and heartwarming read, made very interesting by the fantasy elements infused with very real emotions over chronic illness. The chat dialogues, test messages and narrative story intertwined well and were realistically written. The story moved forward naturally and kept me invested in each character no matter how minor. A very well executed YA book that is readable and has a message. Highly recommended!
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I couldn't make it through the galley edition bc the typeface was too weird on my kindle and so the onine conversations were too difficult to follow. BUT the book is a delight so far, and I can think of five students off the top of my head that will really enjoy it, so I'll definitely be picking up some classroom copies AND reading the ending!
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O'Neal crafts a heartwarming and funny story about two girls - Priya coping with chronic Lyme Disease, and Brigid who initially keeps her diagnosis vague - who become friends and join an online forum for people suffering from chronic illness. 

The twist is that (not a spoiler, due to the title!) Brigid is a werewolf who is in desperate need of help as her transformations become increasingly frequent and unpredictable.

O'Neal's debut offers an original and uplifting way to approach themes such as illness, isolation, friendship and what constitutes normal. Fast paced fun.
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I'm so glad I came upon this. It isn't a title I would normally pick up, and it turned out to be a great, fun read. Priya is a lovely narrator and I enjoyed her online friends. Their banter felt true to life. I love the deep attachment in the main friendship even as they spend so much time talking through screens. I think older generations joke that young people are always on our phones, but are ignorant to the fact that that's how a lot of people stay connected to the ones they love but can't be near from day to day.  And when you are younger, friendship is quite intensive, as demonstrated nicely here. I haven't seen many werewolves in YA recently, so that was refreshing and fun to read. Even more engaging was its relation to chronic illness, and the representation of various chronic illnesses throuhgout the book. I'll be happy to pass this along to readers.
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Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher and the author for giving me an advanced copy of this book. 

There is a lot to enjoy about this book.  The first thing that really struck me was the depth and detail about the characters.  Priya, the protagonist, is believable and very relatable to, even though she is a 19 year old med student from America.  It is written as a first person narrator, so we get many insights into her, the struggles she faces with her diagnosis of Lyme disease and the potential conflict with her parents and younger siblings.  In fact the whole of Priya’s family is as well characterized and it is like reading about a real family.  I particularly enjoyed the relationship between Priya and her brother, the usual conflict between a brother and sister who have to share limited resources but also have a hidden depth of love between them.  The relationship between Priya and Brigid, again, was believable and very enjoyable.  Brigid is such a lively, hair-brained character she is totally convincing. 

As a person with a chronic illness, I felt the attitude to this was just right.  The characters who have a chronic illness know what they are talking about and it was like finding a group chat in real life.  The use of technology here was very successful – these are convincingly young people talking about things they have to deal with in modern teenage jargon!  It made this book feel very modern, and completely of its time. 

So, I know what lycanthropy means so I knew all a long that we were going to meet a werewolf – and I think it took too long to get there.  And really I think that is where this book falls down: using the idea of being a werewolf as a chronic illness.  The link seems so spurious. The message of this book is so confusing – is it that you can conquer a chronic illness, or learn to adapt, or that you might turn into a werewolf?  Chronic illnesses are real and debilitating and not comparable to a magical legend.  The brutal reality of illness and finding your place in the world as a teenager whilst living with a chronic illness seems so disconnected from the world of werewolves.  This is clearly magical realism but the realism is too real to allow for the level of magic.  Priya herself wonders if this is magical and in the end decides it’s a choice between the magical and the medical… but it’s not as it is not possible to be a werewolf! 

I did enjoy this book but the difficulty of suspending your disbelief when it is so unbelievable made this book drag a bit, especially when it is in comparison with such deeply believable elements.  The climax is particularly confusing as we are not really given an answer to why Priya’s decision is the right one.  Why would turning into a werewolf be of help to anyone’s body?  This is the question that is posed at the end but not answered. 

Clearly, I am not this book’s target audience, but I am someone who reads YA books to inform myself about what my students would be reading or would enjoy.  I think there will be students I can recommend it to, students who will enjoy the technology and the relationship between Priya and Brigid, but for me there are a lot of ideas and issues that are unresolved here and it has left me slightly disappointed.
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This book was absolutely fantastic. I've already added it to our library wishlist and recommended it to students.
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This book was good at explaining what it is like to live with a chronic illness.  As someone who has has chronic pain so many of the quotes about it, I could relate to.  At times this book moved really slow and felt like some things could have been left out but then it would pick up and keep my attention.  It was definitely a fun read and something different.  Recommend for many to read this to understand the toll that chronic illnesses can take but also understand how being there for others when they need you is important.
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What a brilliant, unique take on a difficult subject. I learned so much from this book, not only about various chronic illnesses but also about coping with life when it gets hard. I loved Priya and Brigid, and as a chronic illness sufferer myself, though not as extreme as these cases, I could definitely empathise. This book is fascinating and heartwarming as well as exciting and there were some edge-of-your-seat moments which I didn’t expect! Really well researched and written. Just fantastic.
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This was a highly enjoyable read. While, yes, there’s a werewolf... it very much reads as a contemporary piece. While that’s not usually my jam, I was completely invested in the story.
 The protagonist, Priya, is dealing with the fall out of a nasty case of Lyme disease. She ends up joining an online support group with her virtual (at least in the beginning) friend, Brigid... who is dealing with lycanthropy. 
As someone who was in a support group in college, I have to say the author really nailed the dynamic. Half silly and absurd, half extremely vulnerable confessions. This isn’t something I have seen addressed before, and I very much appreciated it. It also was an interesting way to break up the prose- although the text of links and attachments was a bit distracting (but only because I tried a couple to see if they actually worked😄). 

It managed to be both a fun and thoughtful read- very well done.
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What a great surprise! I saw that this was about a werewolf (someone with lycanthropy), "friendship and the hairy side of chronic illness" and thought I was in for something campy and ridiculous. Instead, I found a spot-on, sensitive but funny (and yes, sometimes a little ridiculous) tale of contemporary friendship, online support groups, and the daily physical, administrative, and emotional struggles faced by those with chronic illness. 

After severe Lyme disease crashes Priya's premed plans in the middle of her sophomore year, she moves back home, thankful for but mortified by the support she needs from her parents and younger siblings. When an informal online support group for people with chronic illnesses forms, she and her online friend, Brigid, both join. They find an emotionally intelligent, funny, diverse, and caring bunch of mostly high school and college kids (with the "mom" of the group being 26). With the help of the chat group and each other, they begin to fill some of their dark, lonely corners. Until Brigid suddenly goes silent, and Priya, impulsively deciding to check on her "in real life," finds something darker and more dangerous than she was expecting. It's all fun and games (and joint pain and meds) until an actual werewolf enters the chat.

I loved how authentically these online relationships were portrayed — as meaningful and important in their own right but also as bridges to significant in-person relationships. I also thought the escalation of the tension felt genuine and well paced, rooted in a sort of recognizable life cycle of frustration and emotional anguish that can go hand in hand with chronic illness (and early adulthood). Using a werewolf is an ingenious way to explore some of the darker aspects of dealing with chronic illness, including some of the desperate, self-destructive thoughts and actions it can bring on. The diversity of ethnicities, genders, sexualities, pronouns, and illnesses was excellent, but it did take me quite a while to sort out everyone in the chat group. It's been a minute since I participated in 10-person chats, but I'm not unfamiliar with them, so novices might struggle a bit more. Then again, I'm an old GenXer, so a YA reader might have no issues with it at all. But do YA readers even know about Tumblr and Discord? Hmm... 

Social media platforms and chat issues aside, this was a funny, well-written, paranormal friendship tale with quirky characters and unexpected authenticity and emotional depth. And excellent representation.  

Content notes: character contemplating suicide (discussing it within the context of the support group); discussions about pain, cognitive issues, social stigmas and misunderstandings, accommodation issues, burdensome bureaucracy, and emotional issues related to illnesses, including Lyme disease, EDS, fibromyalgia, cerebral palsy, endometriosis, celiac disease, and of course lycanthropy; reckless physical behavior and reckless use of herbs and supplements; mention of marijuana; BB gun and dart gun; ER and ICU visits; estranged grandparent; a feral cat is eaten (off scene but confirmed/reacted to in dialogue); mild body horror
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This was extremely contemporary (a group of Tumblr friends start a discord server to talk about and support each other through their aches, pains and feelings - one of them is a werewolf) and absolutely lovely. Lycanthropy and chronic illness wasn't an intersection I knew I wanted, until now, but it's perfect. Would love to see this made into a film or a series.
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Who doesn't appreciate witty banter? But when it is pages on end of a message thread, it is hard to get the substance that supports the wit. Perhaps it is a generational thing, but the novel didn't offer enough fluidity in the narration. Liked the characters a lot, just found it tough to read.
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Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses was a breath of fresh air when it comes to main characters and their usual able bodiedness within YA fiction. The main character suffers from chronic lyme disease and joins an online group with other sufferers of chronic illness while also befriending one of her online friends who originally tells her about the group, in real life. I love the support and love that these individuals share with each other and it is great to see that represented in fiction where often, it's the negative side of technology or the bullying, trolling, etc, that take center focus of the story. Though I guessed at Priya, the main character's, friend's chronic illness before it was revealed due to the title, I enjoyed how it was portrayed and along with the daily sufferings that the other characters experience due to their chronic illnesses, it was interesting to see how the author imagines lycanthropy as a chronic illness and how that character can relate to the others. I will definitely recommend this book to my students, but especially to those who suffer from chronic illnesses so that they can know that they're not alone and hopefully, they can find their own supportive community like Priya did.
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This is an enjoyable YA/FA novel with an engaging narrator in Priya, a 19-year-old pre-med student taking some time off from school after contracting Lyme disease. The author makes a valiant effort at the diversity of her cast of characters, which sometimes feels strained. Still, the friendships are charming, including Priya's new best friend, Brigid, the hot animal control guy, Spencer, and Priya's online support group. The varied voices are believable and engaging, and the book is a good read with a lot of depth around living with chronic illness. The depiction of the lycanthrope is interesting, and also begs a feminist critique, that I won't get into to avoid spoilers.
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This book was amazing!! I absolutely loved it. Sensitive and serious topics were handled so very well and provided insights about chronic illness that resonated with me and others that expanded my perspective. There were so many times I had to put this book down because I was laughing so hard. This book was emotional and captivating, and I only recommend reading it when you have enough time to sit down and read it properly (or else you'll find yourself clearing your schedule at the last minute to stay up late reading it like I did!). The characters were all well developed, and whilst portrayed a variety of experiences, cultures and identities were not caricatures. This has easily become one of my favourite books, especially as it juxtaposes funny light-hearted moments with emotional and realistic portrayals of chronic illness.
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Thank you Netgalley for this ARC of Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses.

Do you know what Lycanthropy is?  I didn't either, and I didn't bother to look before reading, something that I recommend,  because dang, it catches you by surprise.

What I liked:  I loved the little tidbits of info that the characters brought up, things I'd never heard of before, like luminescent blood that glowed during war.  I liked addressing chronic illness in young people, I think it would speak to many young people who suffer from constant pain.  I thought the friendships and dialogues were quirky and cute, and I enjoyed all of the ways people found each other.

I also like that the author combined two very different topics into a coherent novel that actually worked.  I don't  think just anyone could get away with it.

What I didn't like:  my biggest complaint is the length, just too long for what it was.  It also got a big redundant, very similar things happened multiple times, which added to the length.
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Thanks to Quirk Books for giving me a free digital galley of this book in exchange for feedback.

I loved this book!

I picked it up on the strength of its cover and title, which is always risky, isn't it?  But so rewarding when it pays off, like right now. I've never heard of Kristen O'Neal, and googling tells me that this is her first novel.  I am prepared to preorder her second novel with no further information.

"Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses" is the story of Priya, who has recently contracted chronic Lyme disease.  Priya is learning to live with weakness and pain that look like they might be a permanent part of her life now.  She's rethinking her future.  Priya joins Oof Ouch My Bones, an online support group for people with chronic illnesses.  She meets good and helpful friends there, who can sympathize and give useful advice and help one another.  It's exactly what she needs.

One of those friends is Brigid, who is a little bit vague about the exact nature of her chronic illness, but still a good friend to Priya.  And what IS Brigid's chronic illness?  It would be a spoiler to tell you, if it weren't the first word of the title: Brigid is a werewolf.

This book is so warm and fun to read and full of heart, and I'd enthusiastically recommend it to anyone who lives with chronic illness or who likes their horror character-driven and full of heart.  

Gentle reader warning: Like many werewolf novels, this one does include a bad thing happening to an animal.  But it isn't vividly described, and it isn't an animal you are emotionally attached to.  You're probably okay to read this book.
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As this was an EARC from netgalley this won’t effect my star rating but the formatting of this book made it really hard to get into. The book is split between prose and online chat. The online chat parts are confusing to work out the speaker. This is an alright book that is explained by the title. The book had a mixed tone as it was clearly trying to highlight chronic Illness but then was also about werewolf’s. quick, young YA read.
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