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Bareback Paperback – 4 Jan 2007


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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (4 Jan. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099499452
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099499459
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 710,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Bareback is neither [quite] horror nor supernatural fantasy, but more a cautionary tale which echoes The Handmaid's Tale or Nineteen Eighty Four...Her story resonates with real issues of power, responsibility and blame" (Lisa Tuttle The Times)

"A gutsy debut...it's hard not to cheer on Whitfield's nerve, especially when her plot, a hard-boiled thriller... rattles along at such a pace" (Hepzibah Anderson Observer)

"Gritty and original" (Guardian)

"Extraordinary" (Kate Atkinson)

"An intelligent book and a moving one" (Time Out)

Book Description

An astonishing first novel set in a world where 99 per cent of the population are werewolves

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Caitlin Macdonald on 29 Jan. 2007
Format: Paperback
Imagine living in a world where 99.6% of the population turn into werewolves once a month, and the remaining few "barebacks" are unable to turn because they've been subtly brain-damaged at birth. This is the world that our protaganist, Lola, inhabits.

"Barebacks" are inferior, poorly paid, and drafted at 18 years old into the Department for Ongoing Regulation of Lycanthropic Activity - DORLA - to risk their lives on a monthly basis making sure the "lyco" elite keep to their curfew and don't hurt themselves. It's a pretty thankless life and for Lola it's about to get worse... a co-worker has just been murdered- shot in the head with a silver bullet - and she might just be next.

This is an well written and atmospheric read. Whitfield has a lyrical grasp of language and plenty of original metaphor. The plot is solid and an interesting twist on the "usual" werewolf-as-the-outsider. I will be keeping an eye out for more of her work.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Insomniac reader on 26 Aug. 2007
Format: Paperback
Really enjoyed this book. Sounds a bit wierd, as it was depressing in places, and the barebacks' lives sucked the big one, but the style of writing made up for it. As one reader has said, i don't know if i'll read it again as it has no happy ending as such, but would be interested in a sequel to see where the story goes next. This writer's imagination knows no bounds, certainly.

One thing though, this book is also printed as "Benighted", which i only found out when i received it and the first page was instantly recognisable as the start of "Bareback". Bit deflated, actually, as thought i'd found a sequel!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Laura on 17 Aug. 2006
Format: Hardcover
'Bareback' is a thriller, above all; it's also a detective mystery, a deep character study, and a fully-realised alternative reality. The heroine is a scarred veteran - at 28 - of a small group of despised civil servants, conscripted into the system because they are non-werewolves. These few are charged with keeping the world functioning during moon nights, when all the normal citizens turn into wolves and start destroying things. It becomes an eerily reversed examination of discrimination, as the characters we consider to be human are universally regarded by the others, and more interestingly by themselves, as lacking something, disabled and weak. And there's also a fine awareness of the powers of bureaucracy and 'public opinion', as the hapless werewolf hunters are routinely injured and killed by the wolves, but cannot themselves risk inflicting damage without offending the ruling majority - and yet even that polarity is disturbed by Whitfield, as it becomes apparent that the non-werewolves take their revenge in numerous ways, acting as a secret police force whose power is supreme, and corruptible, in the underground prison cells.

The premise is interesting enough, then; what drives the book along, however, is a brilliant combination of detective thriller with a genuinely literary level of character development and depth. The plot rattles along with gripping speed; and our involvement in the mind of the heroine is huge. Whitfield's dialogue is utterly convincing in its qualities of miscommunication, and her heroine's flaws and weaknesses are as apparent as her strengths.

Above all, whatever your genre preferences or prejudices, 'Bareback' is worth a try: it's an extremely entertaining novel, which demands to be read at a sitting, and stays in the mind for a long time afterwards.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lesley70 on 13 Aug. 2007
Format: Paperback
Lola Galley lives in a world where over 99% of the population are lycanthropes. As a 'bareback' for the one night a month of the full moon she patrols the town searching for transformed citizens breaking curfew, taking them into custody and prosecuting them. We follow her life over the course of one investigation.

For anyone attracted to this book because it has werewolves in it - proceed with caution. I'd classify this as alternative history rather than urban fantasy, set in a world where there are no simple answers, only difficult choices.

Lola works for DORLA (Department for the Ongoing Regulation of Lycanthropic Activity). Everyone who works for DORLA is anmorphic - barebacks. They are the minority of the population put in charge of the majority when that majority cannot be responsible for their own behaviour - on the night of the full moon. DORLA have a separate legal system, they arrest without trial, interrogate, disappear people. But they do it within the framework the majority have given them. From the moment they are born a bareback's life course is already set, they will go to work for DORLA, there is no other choice for them.

Lola is not always an easy character to like. I jotted down whilst reading that she wasn't sympathetic but I feel this is wrong. It's only by reading the whole book that you understand her. Particularly her confrontation at the end, as she is trying to explain to a lyco what being a bareback is actually like. Her story is heartbreaking because she is caught in a hard, brutal life that she cannot escape from. Through Paul and Leo, Lola's life is opened to something new but it's such a fragile delicate thing. At the end of the book I was hopeful but I prefer happy endings.
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