Last night I stayed up until 2:30 AM finishing the thrilling novel High Bloods from John Farris.
A little background first: since the age of twelve it’s become a habit, whenever I’m in a book store, to scan the bindings for a title that could have something to do with werewolves. Usually I’m disappointed–it turns out to be one of the many vampire books hogging the shelves, or a trendy paranormal romance. I lucked out two Saturdays ago and discovered not one, but two new werewolf novels on the shelves at Borders. One, as you guessed, was High Bloods by John Farris. The title alone didn’t strike me as potentially a werewolf book, but the clawed werewolf hand on the binding did.
What a fun book. It’s a hard-boiled detective novel written in Pulp-era style, yet set in the future. A fast-paced action-packed thrill ride with lycanthropy, classism, and mystery on the menu. It hearkened back to the attitudes and ideals of the 1940’s, evident in the hero’s views of women, machismo, and in the behavior of the female characters. There is a spark of nostalgia that ignites under futuristic lingo, frightful glimpse of future southern California, and werewolves (those afflicted with lycanthropy) outnumbering normal humans. Unaffected humans are known as the titular “high bloods”, and are the elite upper class. Werewolves are known as “lycans” or referred to as “hairballs”, and are the outcasts as well as the low caste (ironically, despite their status, the lycans are the majority of the famous actors and musicians–Hollywood stars and media darlings). Humans afflicted with lycanthropy that have biannual blood replacements to keep from transforming are known as “off-bloods”, and their own class (not considered as lowly as lycans, but not equal to high bloods).
The book ends at a jumping point to the sequel. Hopefully a follow-up expands on this work. I’m itching for a broader view of the world, the history of the lycanthropy virus and its origin, more about the growing lycanthrope rights movement, and more of the exciting mayhem of High Bloods.
I hadn’t been exposed to JF before but learned that: John Farris sold his first novel the summer after he graduated from high school, in 1955. By 1959 he had his first million-seller, at age 23, with Harrison High — which spawned five sequels.