Nightshade by Andrea Cremer (Nightshade #1)
YA Paranormal Romance
June 14, 2011 (Paperback Edition)
Reviewed by Tori
Calla Tor is a 17 year old pack alpha Guardian who is commanded to marry another pack alpha, Ren, when she turns 18. When Calla comes across a human hiking in the woods, she saves his life; breaking pack rules. Calla is shocked when the human, Shay, appears at her school. She is even more shocked when he is almost kidnapped and she is now acting as a bodyguard for him. Soon Shay is telling Calla secrets. Secrets about her past. Secret about the Keepers and the unnaturalness of the hold they have over the Guardians. During all this, Calla is beginning to have feelings for both Shay and Ren.
Oy vey. I honestly don’t even know where to start. Nightshade is one of those books where I enjoyed the premise and the world building but found the characters to be an underdeveloped mess of contradictions and the writing slow and choppy. I enjoyed the arc set up with the Guardians, Keepers, and Searchers. Unethical witches controlling werewolves ? Wraiths used for torture? An ancient prophecy? What’s not to like?
The Guardians are werewolves who protect the Keepers and remain subordinate in exchange for food, a roof over their heads, and schooling. The Keepers are witches who control the Guardians. They have absolute authority over the Guardian’s entire lives, right down to who they will mate with. The Searchers are enemies of the Keepers.
Nightshade starts out with a very in depth personal look at the Guardians and their pack structure. We are introduced to the characters, their lives, and the rules and regulations they follow; seemingly voluntarily. It feels as though you are dropped right into the middle of their world and the guide book was lost on the way down. It isn’t until halfway through the book that the storyline settles down and and you begin to see a pattern in the story.
Our heroine, Calla Tor, is suppose to be a warrior. An alpha. A bad arse werewolf. We are assured of this many times in the book in case we forget. She doesn’t need love-she’s a warrior. Yet, all I saw was a confused, selfish, moody little girl who couldn’t voice an honest thought or opinion to anyone. All through the book I wanted her to stand up and say, “I’m an alpha and you WILL do as I say.” Instead her own pack walks all over her, her soon to be husband assures her he sees her as his equal as he continues to try and get her into her pants KNOWING that she could be severely punished if she is caught being “un pure”with him. Her new boyfriend wants her to walk away from her life and be with him, she can’t help but want both the boys in her life-but not at the same time. And don’t think mom is any help. Her advice is to shut up, accept her destiny, bend to those stronger than you, and for goodness sakes try and behave through it all like a lady. She only begins to question her whole life and her role in it when Shay hands her a history of her pack. Everything Calla does is because someone tells her to.
The love triangle is the main focus of the story at the expense of the plot and is ruined, in my opinion, by Calla’s attitude. Her emotional tug of war is a hormonal mess which I can almost understand but it felt forced and dragged the book down. We are subjected to typical high school scenes of smoldering glances, stolen kisses, and jealous bitchiness. Ren is her intended mate and yes, my boy is a bad, bad boy. He is a typical teenager who thinks more with little Ren then big Ren. He has his sweet moments and his jerk moments but he is one of the few characters that felt and reacted in a realistic sense. Shay, on the other hand, was too perfect. Sweet, loving, in touch with his feelings. I couldn’t summon up any emotion for Shay.
The ending is too convenient and unsatisfying; leaving us with a pat cliffhanger to ensure readers have to buy the next installment of the series, Wolfsbane, to find out what the heck just happened in Nightshade.
All in all I found this to be a great disappointment in that the sheer volume of pages does nothing more then try to hide the fact that this is poorly written with a underdeveloped plot and irritating dysfunctional characters.
Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer (Nightshade #2)
July 26, 2011
Reviewed by Tori
I know many will be surprised I opted to read Wolfsbane after have such a disagreeable reaction to Nightshade. I have found that while I may dislike the first in a series, I sometimes like the rest of the series. This was not true of Wolfsbane unfortunately. After the first 50 pages I set it aside knowing that this was not going to read any better then Nightshade did.
Calla wakes up in the home of her enemies. When she is assured she will not be killed and Shay is fine she changes from wolf to human and prepares to listen to what the Searchers have to say. I put this book down and walked away when Calla runs into two Searchers (who in Nightshade attacked and shot her) and one of them rides her like a horse while she is in werewolf form. The fact that everyone laughs about it and Calla does not rear up and disembowel him showed me right there she was STILL not a take charge girl and I really couldn’t stomach another 400 pages of her being indecisive and weak. Then she sees Shay and the next 20 pages is all, “I want him…no, no, no I want Ren. How dare that girl touch Shay. I wonder what Ren is doing? Did Shay just touch that girl BACK? How come Shay isn’t tossing me to the floor riding me like a horse? God Shay, quit making cow eyes at me can’t you see I’m being an emotional wreck? Oh Ren, I miss you so much. If that girl touches Shay again I’m going to look very mean at her and think bad thoughts about her.”
So I walked away from Wolfsbane and feel it’s better that way for us all.