The Wanderers is a book that's been on my TBR for a long time. I finally got to reading it and it turned out to be quite good. It's the story of a girl named Flo who can shift into a horse, and she's part of a circus comprised entirely of shifters. They go from location to location, barely scraping by, always on the lookout for hunters- covert agents who are aware of them and will kill or capture them on sight. I liked the idea of a circus of shifters, and this is the first book I've read with so many different animals- there are elephants, bears, cheetahs- and no paranormal creatures like werewolves. That was kind of a refreshing change, and so is the idea that shifters are so widespread- there are rogue packs out there that are often found and neutralized, and members come and go from the circus. There are also three elders that run the circus- all three of them lions- and they have secrets as well.
Flo is mostly likable and I thought her depiction was pretty realistic. She's only sixteen so it's realistic that she would be afraid, or uncertain, and every time I thought geez Flo get it together, I had to remember she's so young. And she's going up against experienced hunters who know what they're doing and are well- armed, including with special items that are anathema to shifters. Not only that but most of the other performers are young as well, so you have kids going up against adults.
I didn't think this had a lot of action, but it didn't feel slow. In fact the short punchy chapters kept the story flowing and I wanted to learn more about this world. Other reviews have said the action doesn't get going until the second half, and that's somewhat true, but it kept me turning the pages. I thought it needed more action in the front end but it wasn't a dealbreaker for me. And whenever I thought Flo a little whiny or indecisive, I had to remember- she's sixteen. And it made it feel more real that she's not a killing machine even though I wanted her to kick a little more ass.
In fact the whole group- we're talking bears, big cats, elephants for crying out loud- could have been a little more fearsome, more effective, but again these are teens going through a traumatic experience. They're not natural killers. And they've been trained to suppress their animal selves, so when the time comes that their animal instincts would be useful, they're not accustomed to doing that. I like that that conflict was explored a bit.
The other thing I really liked was the idea of the packs. This particular one hid in plain sight as a circus, but it's mentioned that that there are other packs, hiding away or occasionally even preying on humans. A lot of it has to do with how they address their animal selves. I look forward to learning more about this in the next one, and also seeing where the shifters go next. So again, this is a nice shifter read, it could have used more action and I wish the shifters had been more formidable, but I had a lot of fun and if the premise appeals to you I would definitely give it a shot.