Thursday, April 04, 2019

“My Brother's Keeper” by S. S. Bazinet – To Run with the Beasts

The search for identity as a teenager is never easy for normal people, and S. S. Bazinet goes the extra mile to make it a million times more difficult for the sixteen-year-old Theodore in her novel My Brother's Keeper.

Having been abducted and raised by a sinister organization known as the WKA, Theodore is quite surprised when his real family locates him, revealing he is in fact a werewolf... one who might be able to turn the tide in the war between his kind and the evil organization hell-bent on destroying them.

S. S. Bazinet Unleashes the Beast

We all face varying degrees of difficulty and challenge while growing up, especially when it comes to questions of identity and our place in the world. We've all sought answers to these conundrums in one form or another, and in many cases, we've had to traverse some harsh tests to become the people we are today. Thankfully for the majority of us though, we never had to contend with some irreconcilable knowledge on our way there, not like the sixteen-year-old Theodore in S. S. Bazinet's My Brother's Keeper.

As the book opens we are presented with the afore-mentioned Theo who grew up in the hands of a sinister organization known only as the WKA after they kidnapped him as a baby. The scars of the experience have never truly left him, and one day his whole world turns upside down as his family locates him once again, informing him of a crucial fact: he is a werewolf. What's more, the WKA seems to be hell-bent on wiping the pack into extinction, leaving our hero no choice but to flee along with his newly reunited family. Ultimately though, it may all turn out to be a big mistake: the WKA's most dangerous weapon could very well be Theodore himself.

A story of family, loyalty and coming of age above all, it sees Theodore struggling high and low with his own perception of the world and sense of morality as he desperately grasps for meaning in making sense of all he has learned. Whatever he may do, this only marks the beginning of his long adventure, standing as the first book in the series.

The Endurance of Family Bonds in My Brother's Keeper

Before delving into the twisted and fast-paced story, I would like to take the moment to discuss the aspect in which this book elevates itself above its peers in my opinion: the meditations on family and the strength of the ties which bind us. As you might have expected from the short description above, Theodore's integration into his original family takes the centre stage as far as character development is concerned, and as he learns more about his people, strengthening his bond with them, so do we.

Time and time again we witness scenes of sacrifice and resilience as family members put themselves in danger for each other's sake, full of confidence and belief in the power of their bond. While this might definitely sound like an idealistic approach in the way I describe it, rest assured the author has seen fit to throw in some heavy doses of realism here and there. The closer you get to people and the more you learn about them, the more their flaws become apparent and the more it becomes possible to develop a sense of malice towards them.

In other words, not all is bright and peachy in Theodore's realm, as dangers lurk inside his circle as well, not to mention him being one of them. There are plenty of deceptions and betrayals to go around, and I felt their constant contrast to the joyous moments gave both types of events a greater importance. When the choice of supporting the family plays out well, we feel happy and relieved, just as much as we feel the gruesome sting of treason when it occurs.

An Internal and External Quest

On one hand, the story lays before us a relatively straightforward plot with a large enough pool of elements at play to give it the colours of variety and surprise. An ominous, powerful and evil organization (the bad guys) is hunting down werewolves (the good guys), and our protagonist feels like the prize in a tug-of-war match between the two. Though we can probably suspect the choice he makes in the end, it's still pretty thrilling to sit along with him for the ride, especially since the pace of the story doesn't lend itself well to taking a breather and musing about one's predictions. Events both good and bad come one after the other, to the point where I can't really recall any dull moments I wished weren't there. Every element felt as if it had its place in the narrative, which in my opinion contributed to its buttery-smooth flow.

On the other hand, Theodore is also facing an internal quest which takes up a noticeable chunk of the book, even if in many cases it is only happening in the background, so to speak. As a sixteen-year-old whose entire world and system of belief has been shattered in the blink of an eye, he faces the very real challenge of having to find his place in the world and figuring out who he really is and where he should invest his trust. While I feel most authors probably wouldn't have gone beyond the obvious in developing his character, Bazinet doesn't shy away from forcing difficult questions and decisions on him, slowly building up on his complexity throughout the story. While he's definitely still cooking in the oven, it's a fantastic foundation for the directions he might take later in the series.

The Final Verdict

My Brother's Keeper by S. S. Bazinet is an entertaining and captivating supernatural coming-of-age thriller about werewolves, offering both an engaging plot and thought-provoking meditations on family, loyalty and personal identity. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys the supernatural thriller genre and is looking for a novel with a considerable amount of substance behind the flash.

S. S. Bazinet

Personal site

S. S. Bazinet is an author who discovered her true passion and path as an author a bit later in life than most, but since then she has kept publishing one book after the next with great success. Some of her more popular works include The Vampire Reclamation Project, In the Care of Wolves, and A Warlock Under the Mistletoe.

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