Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
2010, Philomel

Summary


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? (courtesy of Goodreads)

Review

The many paranormal romances I've read can be divided in two categories. First, where the narrator is new to the paranormal world. And second, where the narrator is already part of the paranormal world. The first type of story slowly introduces the reader to the supernatural element. You get the feeling that there's something very strange going on, but don't know what. You learn as the narrator does and know no more than he or she. With the second type of book, you dive right in to the paranormal. The narrator is part of what's going on, so doesn't necessarily bother to explain. You quickly see the inner workings of the magical world, but with no context. I find the second type of paranormal much more satisfying. Initially, it is very frustrating. I had a lot of trouble getting into Nightshade. I had no idea what was going on and was irritated rather than fascinated. Calla has been a werewolf her entire life. References to Keepers, forbidden texts, wraiths, etc are so natural that there's no need to explain it until newcomer Shay is in the position to be taught. Fortunately, Calla does a great job of explaining things to Shay slowly enough to keep the mystery going but thoroughly enough to relieve the initial confusion. The beginning of books like Nightshade are often difficult, but it is so much more satisfying to see the paranormal world from an insider's point of view. You get a much more complex and developed world. If you'll forgive the Twilight reference, it is the reason that Midnight Sun is so much more interesting than Twilight to me.

Calla Nightshade was born to a great destiny. To become an Alpha wolf guardian. To mate with Ren, the handsome yet arrogant alpha male wolf. To protect the Keepers, who provide her family with everything in return for their service. She's never questioned her fate. Or who is good or evil in her world. Keepers are good, guardians are good. Searchers are bad. But a new boy comes to town and makes her question everything. Shay is handsome, curious, fearless, sexy, and fun. He and Calla are instantly attracted to one another. Instead of shutting out the world to focus on their newfound love, Shay pushes Calla to learn more about who she is.

I love Calla. She is a powerful, kick-butt girl. It's she who does the saving. She's also a good friend, daughter, and sister. She's not one to rock the boat for the sake of rebellion, yet ultimately she is willing to stand up for what she knows to be right. I love how she is portrayed as brave and strong, but not macho. We understand that she is terrified every step of the way and doesn't instantly know what to do.

An intense love triangle develops between Calla, Ren, and Shay. As overdone as the love triangle theme is, this story still manages to feel fresh and fun. I love Shay. He is funny yet serious enough to ask questions about the werewolf world that no one else does, confident though not arrogant, sweet yet also capable of acting foolishly. Ren is a harder character to love. He is destined to be with Calla and sees her as his property. He is arrogant and entitled. Yet he also is a basically good person raised by an ogre of a father and truly wants to be happy with Calla. He grows on the reader. The other wolves in Calla and Shay's packs are great side characters. I especially loved Calla's brother Ansel. I was always amused by Mason and Neville and intrigued and saddened by Sabine's story.

Nightshade only gets better as the book goes on. By the last page, I was devastated that the next book wouldn't be out for months. Seeing the world through Calla's wolf eyes is so much richer than seeing it through an outsider's (like Shay) eyes. We see the little subtleties that people new to a fantasy world will miss. By the end of the book, the reader has a good understanding of werewolves and the legend behind them. I grasped Keepers, Searchers, and the origin of the werewolf. There is still a lot to learn in future books, but I feel comfortable at where I am now. Nightshade leaves you knowing and experiences just enough that you yearn for more.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

16 comments :

  1. Awesome review, Alison! I was SO wary of this one because of all the hype, but I ended up loving it, and the pace just got faster and better as it went! Definitely a great paranormal read. :)

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  2. Great Review! The only part of this book that I didn't like was the cliff hanger at the end. The rest was really great. I can't wait to read Wolfsbane! :)

    http://blackfingernailedreviews.blogspot.com/

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  3. Really fabulous review Alison, I love what you said about the two types of narrators, the insider and the outsider. I definitely I agree I tend to gravitate toward the ones where the narrator is an insider so the story progresses more quickly:) I had trouble getting into this one as well, I was confused for a good portion of the beginning since she was throwing unfamiliar terminology around, it almost felt like there was a prequel I missed and should have read before I started this. Depsite that, I loved the story, and like you, can't wait for the next book!

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  4. Loved your review, Alison! I, too, had a little bit of trouble getting into the book in the very beginning - that first chapter with Calla and Bryn in the woods? Eh, but after that, it was smooth sailing for me. I can't wait for Wolfsbane, and I am hoping to see more of Ren, even though he kind of got 'left' behind. Oh, and Sabine - didn't you just love how Andrea even gave you deeper insight into the secondary characters? Great book and review!

    -Linds, bibliophile brouhaha

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  5. Alison, you wrote an amazing review, I didn't have trouble getting into Nightshade. I loved it all the way through. Can't wait for Wolfsbane to be released. I <3 Shay too!

    Rochelle @ Books Like Stars

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  6. Great review! It's good to know that if I find the beginning a little difficult to get into that I should stick with the book anyway. I like it when reviewers mention things like that. Also good to hear the love triangle works. Thanks!

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  7. What a great review! I love Nightshade and the wait for Wolfsbane is killing me! As much as I liked Shay, Ren won me over, haha. Andrea has created such a rich world with so many aspects and it all comes to life through her words. :-) I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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  8. Really great breakdown of the different narrator types in paranormal. I think I'm like you, where I prefer someone who's already involved in the world. Great review, looking forward to picking this one up.

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  9. Have this one on my bookshelf, staring at me. And, since I just finished IRON WITCH (which I really enjoyed), I think I'll have to pick this one up! Thanks for the insightful review.
    Mary
    The Book Swarm

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  10. You're review is spot on. The first half of the book is a bit unsettling and frustrated, but I was swept up in the world building that I was ok with being lost for a little bit. I loved how that the insider of the paranormal also doesn't really know what's truly going on either-only what she's been told to believe. I was conflicted by the love interests. How about you? I can't wait for the next book. Gah, we have to wait 5 more months for it!

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  11. I'm trying to think of the books I've read that could be classified under the second category where the protagonist is already a part of the paranormal world. Can't think of many! I think I prefer that too though, if only because it is more unusual in paranormal stories.

    Still haven't read this one yet and I have no clue why. Must get on that!

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  12. Great review. I also enjoy books where the main characters are part of the paranormal world and they already know it. I'm kind of getting tired of the other kind. I loved this book, however I wasn't a fan of Shay as you were. I guess that's why each YA book gets divided into teams routing for the different guys.

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  13. Thanks for a great review. I've been meaning to read it. Now I'll have to.

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  14. I was concerned about this one considering all of the reviews I had read before. Although mixed, it seemed that most leaned towards the negative. But I have to say your review makes me want to give it a chance, so I'll add it to my TBR list. :)

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  15. What a nice review. I loved this book. Calla is such an awesome character.

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  16. I don't know why, but I'm Team Ren! There is something there underneath his Alpha facade.

    I agree about being able to pick up the lore, but yes, there is still a lot to learn. Can't wait for the next installment.

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