Monday, November 29, 2010

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads):  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?            

And here's what I thought: 
I had seen a lot about this book before it came out, and had been waiting for it to get to my library.  When my copy arrived, I grabbed it, completely eager to devour this book.... and then it took me forever to finish it.   This isn't a reflection of the book at all -- it was just that I happened to get the book during a crazy week where I was just worn out, and not taking much time to read.   However....  on to what I thought of the book, now that I have finally finished it.

This is a book with a smooth, fast pace, and fluid writing, and it's a new twist on what you might have come to expect from a werewolf tale.  I'm not giving any spoilers here -- the cover of the book quotes, "She can control her pack, but not her heart."  I was really impressed with how Andrea Cremer wove everything together, making this not just a story of romance, but also a story of suspense, and how difficult some choices can be.  Calla is faced with following the rules she's always known, being a pack alpha, and being joined to Ren, the alpha of another pack, or following her heart and choosing Shay, a newcomer, over everything else.  She's a smart girl, and I totally believed that she was an alpha (there were no helpless moments where she couldn't handle herself in one way or another).  She's a strong leader, but she also has her doubts about herself, and that made her a realistic character.  She can definitely hold her own in a fight, and she's not afraid to stand up to Ren when he's acting like a jerk (which I really liked about her).  I also liked that Calla never apologizes for what she is, whether it's a girl, or a wolf, or a killer.  She owns what she is.

The two main love interests, Ren and Shay, are pretty different, although I felt both were well-balanced characters.  It's easy to make assumptions about Ren, but there's more to him than meets the eye.  And Shay?  Definitely more going on with him that at first glance.   Both of them balance the story, and how Calla is affected by her feelings for each of them.   And, not surprisingly, things become complicated -- like they can in real life.  

What I really liked in this book was that there was a lot of tension, and the pace was quick.  I easily got caught up in the world that Cremer created here, and I also really enjoyed how she dealt with the whole shapeshifting thing.  You know -- each author might do it a little differently.  For one, it might be that a character sheds clothes, shifts, and then comes back for the clothes (or not).  For another author, a character might have a really painful shift, brought on by a full moon, or a temperature change.  I had been wondering how Cremer would handle it, and I really liked what she did.  Rather than try to explain it, I'll give you a quote: " 'It's complex magic,' I said, hurrying past the awkward exchange.  'Technically, I'm both the wolf and human at the same time.  I choose what form my soul inhabits and I can move freely between the two.  Whatever form I'm not in is still there, just invisible - in something like another dimension - until I occupy it again.' "  (p. 116).  Okay -- this is SO COOL.  Definitely a new twist on the whole shape-shifting, form-changing idea.

I'll sum up by saying that this book was definitely worth the wait, and was an enjoyable read.  I'm really looking forward to the next book in this series, Wolfsbane, which is due out July, 2011 (at least, that's what my source showed when I checked it today). 

If you'd like to read other reviews, here are a few I liked:  BookCrazy, Persnickety Snark, and The Reading Angel

First sentence: "I'd always welcomed war,but in battle my passion rose unbidden."

Thoughts on the cover:  Very eye-catching, between the girl's face and the blood-stained calla lilies.  Definitely gives a hint of what lies within the book.


Melissa (i swim for oceans) said...

Great review, Jo! I actually found myself loving this one, and I'm glad because I was afraid it wouldn't live up to the hype :)

Jenni Elyse said...

I passed the Versatile Blogger Award onto you. You can check it out here if you'd like:

Bunnita said...

Hi Jo,
I couldn't find a comment link under the challenge. I don't see what house I should put you under. Please leave your house in a comment on The House page. Thanks Bunnita - Hogwarts Challenge

Unknown said...

I can't read the review. I can't read the review I can't read the review. I so want to read this one and I don't want any spoilers.

But I'm so happy you rated it pretty high :D

There is a new project starting in the blog-o-sphere that I want to get involved in, so spreading the word of greatness. I have a post up about Save a Tree, Read an E-Book.

Mad Scientist

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