My rating: 3 of 5 genies
Published: October 19, 2010
Source: Library Loan
Purchase At: The BookDepository.com or Amazon.com
Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she’ll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters’ laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything - including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?
Calla was an animal, literally, and I really liked her a lot by the end of the book, which is way more than I thought I would at the beginning. She is raised from a generation of shape shifters bred to believe their sole duty in life is protecting the Keepers, powerful witches that can either make life good for her people or very unpleasant. One day she saves a very studly hiker, the first of many rules in her world to be broken, but never expects to see him again.
Until he enrols in her school, that is. That, I believe, is the very beginning of Calla’s problems. Oh, and did I mention she’s engaged to a very smoldering alpha male, Ren? Oops.
Nightshade was thrilling and I enjoyed it because of how easy the book was to read. Was it perfect? Nah, I had some qualms:
Characters: I give props immediately to Cremer for how excellently all her leads and minors were developed, she did a great job. Everyone from Ansel all the way down to Bosque, whom we hardly even see, was so strongly endowed in their characters; I had no choice but to be impressed.
Calla was an excellent alpha, she knew how to keep her pack in line and I cannot even begin to imagine how difficult controlling a group of teenagers, especially your friends authoritatively must be. No one would want to bow down, despite the fact they were raised knowing when to, and keeping them in line could only be quite the task. She rose up to the challenge, always considering their needs first and ready to sacrifice for their futures.
As a protagonist she was engaging and intelligent to follow, as a teenage girl? Not so much.
My biggest pet peeve about her had to be that she felt drawn to both guys. She would kiss Shay, and then kiss Ren, but then kiss Shay again even though Ren was trying his best to keep them together. Her body reacted to them equally and at the end when she runs away? Calla still wants to stay back in Ren’s arms even though a confession happened only minutes before with her and Shay.
Don’t be greedy, Calla share the hot men! She wanted them all to herself and enjoyed too much the attention from both. It was hard to keep up. I get the need for mystery when it comes to who in the end she will end up with, but seriously? Don’t burn the flipping love-triangle with her lust and Do Not make her so weak she cannot stick to one man! That bothered me, that Calla would be so confident and wise in so many other areas and foolish in this one.
“But the heart makes people do stupid things…”
B.S.! Tell your body to pick a man and stick with him! Watching her melt to them both was only confusing for the reader. I agree that Ren and Shay have each their plus points - in Ren’s case, many - and how hard choosing between the sexy beast and passionate nerd can be. They were delicious and exciting to witness interacting and once I got into the novel I really fell in love.
With Ren. Not entirely sure how I feel about Shay yet, but Ren? Totally in love. He has that whole 'damaged and misunderstood' thing going for him and I like. Very Much.
Please understand what a progression this is for me, because at the beginning it was hard enough figuring out why teenagers were acting more like wolves than people.
This is normal right?
Setting: Vail (is that the name?) Could not have been better. So maybe I can't recall the place exactly at the moment, but it was mysterious and very woodsy, extremely easy to loose yourself in. I adored reading it and would visit. If I could. It also provided the perfect backdrop to the war between Searchers, Keepers, and Guardians, especially since the battle was pretty sham-smacking amazing.
I also feel compelled to mention Wraiths. Wraiths were so essential to the whole backdrop mainly because they were creepy shadow guardians that well, stayed mostly in the shadows. Did I mention those things are really creepy?
Oh, I did?
Good. Moving On. I will not ruin the surprise, and you all can pick up a copy and judge for yourselves the general creepiness of these shadow creatures. Who knows, maybe terrifying torture-beasts only make me queasy. I could be the weird one.
What I didn't like: Probably besides the whole Calla being goo-goo eyes for both stud-muffins, had to be the fact that it essentially was so hard to get into. Not the writing, that was great and engaging, but I have read few - if any - shape-shifter books. That people are both animal and human is hard to digest and for the longest time (about 1/3 of the novel) it felt like they were more wolves than anything else.
I mean, 'Growl, Hiss, Snap,' anyone? It took me some time to warm up to the idea. But the point is I eventually settled into this world and by the end honestly enjoyed it. Initially I thought of giving up because of how alienated I felt, but then I finished the Hourglass some days before and figured this really couldn't be any worse. Make sure to check out that review for some very colorful language...Kidding! Just kidding folks, but the point is: I really am glad I kept at it.
Overall: I'd say to give this book a chance and resist the urge to bolt if the first 130ish pages are strange to ease into. Trust me, it really grows on you and I'm looking forward to some more Yummy Ren in Wolfsbane!
3/5 genies: While there were minor issues, this was not a bad book. Recommended to those interested in the YA Shapeshifter genre!