Nightshade by Andrea Cremer (review copy) - She can control her pack, but not her heart ...
I wanted him to kiss me, wished he could smell the desire that I knew was pouring off me.
You can't, Calla. This boy isn't the one for you.
Calla Tor has always known her destiny: graduation, marriage and then a life leading her pack. But when she defies her masters' laws to save a human boy, she must choose. Is one boy worth losing everything? From Amazon UK
Wow! Really, just wow! For some reason, despite all the hype surrounding this novel, I wasn't too enthusiastic about reading it. I didn't exactly think I wasn't going to like it, I just didn't expect it to be brilliant. But my word, how it was!
The story and mythology are absolutely brilliant, though nothing is explained to us. This is Calla's world, so, unlike in other novels, Calla doesn't "think" about the world she lives in through the narration to explain things to us. We discover through the first few pages that she can turn into a wolf, she has a pack, and that she shouldn't save the human boy from the grizzly bear. We don't know whether she's wearing clothes or not. We don't know why she shouldn't save the boy, only that it's forbidden. Why? Because she knows the answers to these questions, so has no need to think about them. It's annoying at times, but mostly brilliant. We find things out as the story continues, either through her talking to new boy Shay, or through talking to pack mates; things are unravelled through the conversation. It's brilliant!
As I said, the mythology is brilliant. Calla is not a werewolf, she's a Guardian. Guardians are wolves, warriors that protect the Keepers, magic users who are their masters. A new pack will be formed when Calla is united with Ren, as organised by the Keepers. She's known this her whole life. She's known her job and what her future will be since she was a child, it's the reason of her existance. What's also great is the plot. On the surface, this is a paranormal romance, but as paranomal elements are uncovered, it's something much deeper. And it reminded me a lot of high fantasy. I can't really go into why without spoiling the story, but all the fantasy elements are just fantastic.
The characters are awesome. There are quite a few of them, but they all had their own distinct personalities. There's the young Nightshade pack, which Calla is alpha of, consisting of Bryn, Ansel, Mason and Fey, and then there's the young Bane pack, consisting of alpha Ren, Dax, Sabine, Neville, and Cosette. And they're all awesome, there's all kinds of tension among these group of teenagers, and the pack dynamics versus normal teenage behaviour is great to watch.
But the important characters are Calla, Ren and Shay. Calla is strong, brave, and loyal, yet not entirely comfortable with the future set before her, even though she understands it. She's fantastic, and you can't help liking her! Ren, as I said, is the alpha of the young Bane pack, and he's... well, he's a typical boy, and extremely hot. Unbelievably hot. And Shay is an orphan, human boy who's recently moved to Vail, where the story is set, with his uncle - a man who is extremely important among the Keepers. Who is also pretty hot. The damn novel is hot! The sexual tension between Calla and Ren, and Calla and Shay is at fit to burst levels! It's a wonder this girl doesn't explode! Seriously, sexual tension to give Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick a run for it's money!
The action in this book is brilliant, though it's mostly a tension builder than incredibly written choreography. Although there is a smattering of action throughout the novel, most of it is towards the end, as the main crux of the story is to develop the relationships and learn more about the mystery.
Some pretty serious themes are covered in this book as well, which was unexpected. Themes such as homophobia and abuse of power. There are some moments in this book which are seriously hard to read, and actually left me feeling disgusted and so terribly angry. Although an urban fantasy novel, this is not a "silly little novel" to overlook. This book has powerful messages to share.
I'd say this book has pretty much everything you could want from a YA novel; romance, danger, fear, action, the paranormal, contemporary themes, it has it all! And I loved it! It has a killer of a cliff-hanger, and I am absolutely dying to read the next novel, Wolfsbane, which will be out, according to Goodreads, 7th July 2011! I cannot recommend this book enough. You all need to read it! Simply amazing!
Thank you to Atom for the review copy.
Published: 28th December 2010
Pre-order on Amazon UK
Buy on Amazon US
Andrea Cremer's Website