Review: 'Farmost Star I See Tonight', by Jonathan W. Thurston
Farmost Star I See Tonight is a mystical, dreamy, touching romantic fantasy for shy teenagers. Whether humans or wolves, ‘omega’ adolescents may feel that they are alone. This novel will help them to see that their troubles are not unique or their fault, and that, even if they have not met them yet, there is someone out there for them.
Rian is a black-furred adolescent wolf and Lissa is white-furred. Otherwise, they are almost identical. Both are shy and lonely members of their packs, blamed by their parents for refusing to socialize, but finding nobody among their peers with whom they can truly be friends. Rian’s father Gull despises him for having no interest in pack dominance battles, and Lissa is left to take care of her younger siblings while her parents bicker and ignore them.
Then, Lissa was left alone in the dark with only her feelings of sorrow, self-hate, and loneliness to sooth her into sleep. (p. 7)
Gull demands that Rian spar with him to prepare for the pack’s dominance battles, but Rian recognizes that this is just a self-justification for Gull to savagely abuse him. Rian creates an imaginary alter-ego, Tark, as a friend, but Tark advises him to give up all feelings and to create an emotional wall against the world; to resign himself to a life of pain and loneliness, except for protecting his younger brother Rutlin from their father.
‘Stop feeling so much, and focus on just staying alive. Steel your mind against everything. You can do this, Rian.’ (p. 15)
When all of Lissa’s peers among her pack’s adolescent females are wrapped up in discussing and choosing their future mates, she is cornered by Si’tung, an arrogant wolf who already considers himself their pack’s future alpha male. Si’tung tells Lissa that he will have her whether she wants him or not. The other adolescent female wolves offer Lissa no sympathy; they tell her that she should be glad such a strong and handsome wolf has shown an interest in her. Lissa takes up self-mutilation in her despair.
Both Rian and Lissa fall into the habit of leaving their packs unnoticed, and sneaking far off to howl at the moon alone in misery. One day they hear each other, and are drawn together. Each is amazed to find another wolf of a similar nature, and in his/her own circumstance. Gradually, they fall into companionship and then love. But what are they to do next? Rian would never be accepted by Lissa’s pack or parents. Lissa would probably be raped by Rian’s father if she left her pack for his, aside from the fact that Si’tung would never let her go. Tark urges Rian to not get involved with Lissa since it can only result in further emotional and physical misery and torment for him.
Tark smirked in his head, Do you honestly think she would want to have that kind of relationship with you anyway? What? Do you think she loves you? Don’t get your hopes up, fool.
Then, for the first time in his life, Rian said something in stark refusal to the deep voice in his mind, ‘Tark, shut up.’
The voice was silent. (p. 95)
Their mutual love builds up their self-reliance to the point that Rian and Rutlin come to live with Lissa’s pack, and Lissa tells Si’tund openly to get lost. The two nervously expect that their actions will have consequences, but they are determined to meet them.
Farmost Star I See Tonight is probably not a novel that Flayrah’s readers will enjoy. Furry fans know a bit about real wolf pack behavior, and the behavior in this novel – the wolves having separate dens and families, and a pack school for the cubs – is too much of comic-book funny animals and toddlers’ picture books. Thurston says, and I agree, that this is a parable. The intended readership is the emotionally lonely adolescent who has serious problems, real or imagined, and no friends to discuss them with. If you know of anyone like this, get him or her this book.
The cover illustration is by Theresa Digiacomo.