Cover Image: Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses

Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses

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Member Reviews

As a person with a chronic illness, I had such anticipation for Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses. I really enjoyed so much about this book. It was quirky and fun, but also dealt with the sadness of living with a hand your were dealt that makes life just that much harder. 

They say misery loves company, and that tends to be true. Nothing builds community the way a shared challenge or trauma does. I loved that the story focused on a community built through Tumblr., which I honest to god didn’t even know people used anymore, and Discord which I heavily connect to its roots in the gaming community. It just felt so non-mainstream, and I loved that. 

I also really enjoyed that even though so much of this story felt so real and I really connected to it, there was this heavy plotline that literally dealt with a chronic illness of lycanthropy. I’ve never thought of werewolvism being a chronic illness, but it really is, right? So it was a really interesting take on the werewolf plot device. 

Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses is like Teen Wolf meets any sad sick kid story, and it really incorporates the best of both genres. 

But we have to address the elephant (or the lycanthrope) in the room: Why do white people feel the need to write stories from the perspective of people of color? I was looking forward to reading this book for so long, and after I was a couple of chapters in, I realized the author is a white lady. The main character of the book is an Indian girl (Priya), and the story heavily incorporates Priya’s relationship with her Indian family. There is absolutely nothing about this story that needs the protagonist to be a BIPOC. The story could be rewritten with all the same plot points with an MC of any ethnicity, yet the WHITE AUTHOR chose to heavily include a culture that isn’t hers and profit off from someone else’s identity. It’s weird and inappropriate. Don’t get me wrong - I would’ve loved to have read a book like this with an Indian main character that was written by an author that shares that identity, but having a white person write the book makes it feel dirty, and makes me feel guilty for reading it. I was so excited about the book’s plot and felt heavily connected to the chronic illness aspect of the story. Again, it’s weird and dirty. Just… why?

Another thing I feel compelled to mention is the cover. There was a lot of backlash because the cover features an Indian teen and a werewolf, both wearing the same sunglasses. It led a lot of people to believe that Priya (the Indian character) was being perceived as a hairy werewolf, but that actually isn’t the case. The werewolf character is a white girl. I definitely see how that can be perceived without reading the book, and it’s certainly problematic, but I do believe that confusion is totally unintentional. 

So I really enjoyed the book for what it was, but having more insight really skewed my thoughts and made it harder for me to really appreciate the entire thing. Again, it’s a weird flex to be white and profit off the identity of a different race. Let’s just try to move past that as a society, ‘kay?
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Glad for the chronic illness representation, sad about the cover art and shoehorning in cultural/racial background of protagonist in a half-assed way that was both stereotypical and ineffective.
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This book was kind of all over the place. I enjoyed the parallels drawn between chronic illness and lycanthropy, and thought it was a fun take, but the book fell a bit flat for me. The humour didn’t quite land, and it was a bit hard to get through. It just didn’t grab my attention, unfortunately.
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First of all a big thank you to netgalley, the author and the publishers for sending me a copy of this book to read and review. 

I absolutely loved this book. I thought that the main characters, Priya and Brigid, where absolutely wonderful and I loved their dynamic. I also loved watching the relationship grow between Priya and Spencer. I was rooting for them throughout. 

To those people who have rated and bitched about this book without even reading, please read the damn book or remove your reviews. To rate a book due to a misguided opinion about something the book doesn't even do, you are assuming the worst. This is not only not fair and harmful on the author but also on future readers who would really appreciate the disability rep. The fact that this book is rating almost 4 stars even with all of the negative reviews from people who haven't read the book, just shows how good this book is.
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Such a good book. 
I really enjoyed reading it!
As a psychologist I really enjoyed the story and it was so much fun!
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I picked this up when I was still trying to give YA a chance and rekindle the love I had for it as a teenager but it has not gone well. As with the other YA books I tried, this one did not spark joy, and I wasn't interested. I would read a bit, put it down, and then not come back to it for ages. I'm glad this is a book that exists and if I had read it ten years ago, I probably would have loved it, but I have accepted that YA isn't my thing anymore.
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This is definitely not what I was expecting, in a pleasant way. It draws attention to something overlooked (non-lethal ailments that still change a person's quality of life) without being condescending or boring.
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Didn't capture my attention and engagement. I'll hopefully try again in the future.
Didn't capture my attention and engagement. I'll hopefully try again in the future.
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There was a lot I liked about this book.  From the strong representations of friendship both online and offline to the accurate (in my experience) depiction of those with chronic illnesses, I thought it was a fun read and easy to get through and I would definitely recommend it as more light-hearted way to increase a reader's understanding of what it's like to live with chronic illness (along with dealing with members of the population who do not).  But it would be with one major caveat:

I think that there is a strong element of tokenism when it comes to Priya's family and culture.  I frankly did not see a need for the main character not to be white.  Her family seemed to react to her illness and treat her in the same way my (white) family would and there were no plot lines that required a non-white protagonist.  As this is also not the author's lived experience, it felt like a token nod to up readership/increase chances of being published rather than authentic.  The entire time I was reading I was wondering if things were accurate because everything matched my own experience and idea of an "American Family".  It made me wonder if there really were no differences (which, yay!?) or if it just wasn't an accurate depiction.  It made me want to research the actual Desi/Tamil experience, not to learn more (which I look forward to and appreciate when I am trying and expecting to reach beyond my limited worldview), but to determine whether or not O'Neal's depiction was accurate.  I did not feel that I could trust the author's portrayal of the characters and that is not what I look for in my "for pleasure" reading. 

This is not a make or break for me.  Like I mentioned, there is a lot (A LOT) about this book that I really enjoyed and would highly recommend.  But it is a serious issue and something that Kristen O'Neal and the publisher need to take a long, hard look at and consider much, MUCH more carefully in the future.
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I really wanted to like this book. I love werewolves, and the analogy between them and chronic illness could really work. But the culture of the main character was glaringly not correct and even the bond between the two characters was not believable. It just fell flat.
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While I'm always here for chronic illness and disability representation in YA books, I am NOT here for racism.
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This book was so fun to read. As someone with a chronic illness myself, I really saw myself from within the pages of this book. Absolutely loved the group chat scenes, but they could grow a bit tiresome after pages upon pages.
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I only had to read the first couple of lines before I knew this was a book for me. This book made me feel seen. 

Despite exploring chronic illness, this book had me laughing repeatedly whilst somehow still portraying the reality of ill health and the emotions that come with it. The exploration of the online support groups and how they provide friendship and a connection to the world when you can barely get out of bed was expertly done. 

It perfectly explores how it is to realise you have a body that just doesn’t work how you want it too, whilst still being humous and laugh out loud funny. Whilst it can be dark, but joy and friendships are still possible. 

Please read this book.
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This is such an important book. It has a very specific theme but does contain some strong messages for all type of readers. It would be great for anyone to give it a try. The storyline is bittersweet but absolutely amazing.
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I was really excited about this book and the premise was interesting. Unfortunately it didn't capture my attention the way I hoped it would. Maybe I'll try it again later.
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Kristen O'Neal's novel 'Lycanthropy and Other Chronic Illnesses' is a fast and fun novel with an important message at its heart. Priya was at Stanford studying medicine when she contracted Lyme disease. Unfortunately, it has caused lasting damage due to being treated late - despite being bacteria free, she is now in daily pain and having to recuperate at home, back with her family. As she tries to deal with this regression and huge change to her life, she connects with some chronically ill friends online, including one who is hiding a big secret.

I did enjoy many aspects to this book. The theme of chronic illness is dealt with sensitively and some encouraging messages, about self worth and support, come through the group chat sections. Priya's growth across the novel, coming to terms with her illness and exploring how plans for her future can still be achieved, is a joy to follow. I also enjoyed her friendship with Brigid and Spencer- it was great to see her have a genuine, supportive connection beyond her family.

I felt like some aspects of the narrative were a bitty. Brigid's transformations started to feel repetitive and stall Priya's narrative journey rather than propel it. Priya's cultural identity also felt very surface and shoehorned into the story, adding little to the thrust of the story.

Overall, this deals well with the theme of chronic illness and is a great novel for YA readers. The uneven narrative arc and some lapses in pacing do not detract from it being an enjoyable read, 3.5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher who provided an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Cool title, cover, and premise. I really enjoyed this read! It took me a couple chapters to get into, but once I did I couldn't put this book down. I absolutely loved it and I look forward to more writing from this writer.
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After I saw feedback from the BIPOC community, I decided not to read or promote this book. When I requested it, I was not aware that the author was white and I do not support white saviorism in literature. This novel perpetuates harmful stereotypes and misconceptions about  both people with disabilities and the Desi and Tamil experience.
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While at college, Priya is diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease which forces her to move back home with her family.  Ashamed that she didn’t finish school, she befriends Brigid online.  They join a virtual support group for people with chronic illnesses.  Brigid does not talk about what her illness is, but when she suddenly goes offline, Priya decides to check on her.  What she finds when she gets to Brigid’s house is a horrifying creature, a werewolf.  Is it really a werewolf and if it is, where’s Brigid?  What did the creature do to her or is there a chance this werewolf is actually Brigid? 

This was an interesting take on a story about friendship and unconditional support.  The relationship between Priya and Brigid was strange especially with one of them being a werewolf.  I don’t know that I would drive to a different state if someone I only knew online stopped posting, but that’s exactly what Priya does.  Their friendship grows though even after Priya figures out what Brigid’s illness is.  One part I loved about their story though was the animal control person, Spencer, who Priya calls twice to help her when Brigid is in werewolf form.  I thought his character was a great comedic addition to the story.  

This book is young adult and has parts that are written as a chat with slang and hashtags used when the support group is meeting online.  I actually enjoyed this even if I might have had to look up a couple of things!  I loved the members of the support group and thought they were great secondary characters especially because they brought attention to the chronic illnesses they had.  

Overall, I enjoyed this story.  This book was an interesting take on how to live with a chronic illness and focuses on peer support and found families.  I have read some reviews that say the cover is racist, but please know that the werewolf on the cover is not meant to be Priya, the Tamil character, but is actually Brigid in her werewolf form.  

Thank you NetGalley and Quirk Books for an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.
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I was first attracted to this title by the fact that it includes a protagonist with a chronic illness -- something that is almost impossible to find in YA (or any fiction) novels today. It was an entertaining book that dealt with some important topics relevant to my students -- dealing with disabilities and mental illness as well as fostering relationships amidst these struggles -- with a plot that plays around with the werewolf trope. However, I'm a little wary of recommending this book widely because, although it is technically #OwnVoices due to the author's own chronic illness, the narrator is a young woman of South Asian descent which the author decidedly is not. Authors can certainly write about experiences outside of their own, but to have a first person protagonist whose culture is important to the development of the plot be of an ethnicity outside the author's ken is... problematic.
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