So. Down to the business of actually reviewing a book. As my previous post suggests, the Rizzoli and Isles series will feature heavily in this blog. However, this book is not a Rizzoli and Isles one. This is a Nicholas Evans masterpiece. Anyone who has ever seen or read “The Horse Whisperer” will know how emphatic and brilliant a writer Evans is. “The Loop” is his second novel and it didn’t disappoint. In fact it’s probably my favourite book. I read it at least once a year and basically know it off by heart. So seems quite a good choice for my 1st book review!
It starts in Hope, Montana and we see a young male alpha wolf go into wolf hater territory. (Already I’m screaming at the wolf to turn back!) We see him become inquisitive about a strange noisy creature in a bassinet. A dog comes out to protect his family and is killed by the wolf who then scarpers. Unfortunately for the wolf, he just killed a Calder dog and this means he ticked off the biggest and richest rancher in Hope. It results in Helen, a wolf biologist, who is tormented by bad relationships, currently in one with a man named Joel whose in Africa, to come to Hope to track and tag the wolves. So we already have a young, broken late 20-year-old living alone among wolves in the Montana outback trying to save a very hated creature.
Enter the next main character. Luke Calder. The youngest and now only son of the biggest, richest rancher Calder mentioned before. He has a stutter, blames himself for his grandfathers and brothers deaths and is a lover of all animals, especially wolves! Oh and he’s 18.
Helen finds she is not well liked in Hope and to make matters worse, her traps are getting sprung. So, she stalks her sabotager and finds it’s, surprise surprise, LUKE! They end up laughing about it and he learns she is just trying to save the wolves, not making it easier to kill them, and ends up helping her. Safe to say, he falls in love with her, the only girl to not care about his stutter bar his mother.
Helen receives a letter from Joel in Africa and he breaks up via letter (sleezeball) telling her he has found his true love and is to marry. Helen goes into a complete meltdown. Luke finds Helen and looks after her. She discovers she has feelings for him and realises for the 1st time what real love is. But wait! He’s 18. She’s 29! What should she do? Of course she teaches the virginal Luke about love and sex and they live happily ever after.
Well, not quite. There is the problem of the wolves still. One is claimed to have killed cattle and the ranchers take it upon themselves to rid their land of the wolves. A group of them kill a wolf and display it at a Wildlife and Fish agency gathering, stirring the blood of rancher and government official alike. The ranchers go to kill the rest of the wolves and newborn cubs with shotguns. Of course Helen and Luke go to save the cubs and this leads to a heart thumping, palm sweating, last gasp finale….
I won’t tell you the ending. That would ruin the book.
As I said before. This is probably my favourite book and as such I am bias. But so is everyone. So. My verdict is this is an 8/10 book. Not 10/10 because I am a really harsh critic and there are areas of the book that I do find wanting. The writing in the perspective of the wolves is a little forced and long-winded for myself (the ‘Wolf Brother’ series written by Michelle Paver is far better in this aspect) and I find the old tracker sections rather boring. BUT. Helen and Luke’s romance drives this book forward. The main characters are fabulously well written and their back stories are believable with no forced empathy needed. Even the ‘bad’ guy is likeable and, more importantly, understandable in his actions. The character interactions are well crafted and in my mind’s eye I can see the town and surrounding ranches with perfect detail thanks to Evans’ carefully scripted description.
All in all a well written novel that animal lovers, soft romantics and general fiction fans will like, if not love!