by Andrea Cremer
Calla Tor is the beautiful, irresistible leader of her werewolf pack. She’s known that her destiny from birth has been to marry sexy alpha male Ren Larouche, uniting their two groups into a super-team of powerful young werewolves capable of protecting their masters, the mysterious magicians called the Keepers. She’s never been one to break the rules set down by the Keepers, or defy the fate determined for her. Her world is turned upside down when she saves a gorgeous human from a grizzly bear, revealing her wolf-self to an outsider. The boy, a high school student named Shay, is somehow connected to the secret, supernatural world of Calla and Ren, but neither he nor Calla understands how or why. All Calla knows is that she’s falling for him, even as her duty demands that she marry Ren on All Hallow’s Eve, which is rapidly approaching.
Calla grew up in a very structured environment. She’s always known that she’s the alpha female in her pack, and that she serves the Keepers because they take care of her family, etc. She has believed everything the Keepers tell her about the supernatural world. When Shay shows up, he discovers texts that prove the Keepers have lied to Calla and her friends and that the history she knows isn’t accurate or true. It’s a disturbing reminder to readers of how easy it is to falsify information to manipulate the masses.
The mythology of the werewolves and Keepers is clearly well-developed, but it isn’t always explained clearly. Part of the problem, of course, is that Calla’s knowledge of her world is being dismantled even as she explains it to Shay (and the reader), and her uncertainly certainly hurts her ability to clarify. I’m assuming that in the following books of this trilogy, the supernatural world will be smoothed out.
In most books, you like to see the characters grow throughout the book, becoming stronger as they conquer obstacles or accept that which cannot be changed. Calla, unfortunately, seems to shrink into herself and diminish. She begins the book as the strong leader of her pack, confident and strong. But as soon as her two love interests enter the narrative, she begins to fall back into the role of Bella Swan, an ordinary girl unable to make decisions or play an active role in determining her future. She lets Ren take over the leadership of her pack with barely a squeak, and lets Shay bully her into breaking the Keepers’ rules. It was disappointing to read her regression.
It’s not the best worst young adult novel I’ve read, but it’s not the worst, either. The plot is very action-based and moves forwards in fits and starts. Sometimes it’s plodding and slow, but other scenes feel very rushed. Characters are underdeveloped, but the re-vamped werewolf mythology is pretty well done. I’d say Nightshade is pretty solidly average. Fans of Twilight will eat it right up.
3 out of 5 stars