Reviewed by Donna
TITLE: Running With The Pack
AUTHOR: A.M. Burns & Caitlin Ricci
PUBLISHER: Harmony Ink Press
LENGTH: 180 Pages
RELEASE DATE: September 8, 2016
Finn is about to start his senior year of high school when he and his family move from Austin, Texas, to Woodland Park, Colorado. Everything is different—even the elevation—and Finn’s having a hard time getting used to his new home. Life takes a turn for the better when he meets Ivan Dubovasky at a farmers’ market. Finn finds not only a close new friend but a fulfilling volunteer position at the High Mountain Wolf and Wild Dog Center, which Ivan’s family runs. Before long Finn develops an affinity for the wolves under the center’s protection.
Things only get better for Finn when he starts a relationship with Ivan; and Ivan’s best friend, Adrian, who’s asexual, completes their small pack. But it all comes crashing down when the bully plaguing Adrian crosses the line and Adrian goes missing. Finn and Ivan are determined to bring their boyfriend home safe, but they might not be able to do it alone. Luckily there’s a special wolf ready to lend a paw.
This was a very sweet and easy read, however it felt somewhat incomplete. Running With the Pack is the tale of three high school friends who find themselves becoming much more than just that, in small town Colorado. The primary setting of this story is the Wolf Center, run by Ivan’s family. The setting was unique and snagged my interest instantly. I must admit, that it was kind of surprising to read a book involving wolves that didn’t magically shift into humans. What a novel concept! The wolves played enough of a role in the plot that they became more than just a cute backdrop, which I appreciated. I do prefer that authors actually tie such a setting into the story rather that simply mentioning it and that’s all we ever hear.
The fact that the story was set in a small town without making the main conflict small-town-homophobia was refreshing. The story had huge potential to morph into a big steaming pile of angst, but instead from beginning to end, the characters seemed to be living in a Disney movie. Ok, a gay ménage Disney movie…but they’ve finally branched out from lily-white princesses, so you never know what they might release next. But what I mean is, aside from the “badies” (who really weren’t all that bad) everything was sunshine and rainbows for these three boys. No one blinked at the fact that they were gay. No one was offensively curious about Adrian being asexual. Not one parent had a problem with their son becoming involved in a threesome. And you know what, I’m aware that I might sound like I’m mocking this story, but to tell the truth, I adored it with my whole fairytale loving heart. However, some conflict was definitely required. Even the dramatic climax was more of a fizzle that a bang.
I really do hope that the authors choose to continue the story of Finn, Adrian and Ivan. The dynamics of them being together as a threesome was never actually explored. A friend threesome, yes, but not the three of them together in a relationship. The added element of Adrian’s asexuality, and the fact that he’s only a teen who is still deciding just what elements of a sexual nature he may be interested in, could make for an extremely insightful read, if done well. I think that that’s why this story felt incomplete to me. I needed to see the boys work through the sexual aspect together, even if any sex scenes were off page.
I did like this book. I dare say I will reread it at some point when I need to reach for something that is light and sweet. But I wasn’t excited by it. What did excite me, was the potential for a sequel, which I hope the authors see themselves to write.