RAISED BY WOLVES
Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Bronwyn Alessia St. Vincent Clare is a girl with a lot of names. A lot of names, but not a clear identity. She is a human girl raised in the biggest and strongest werewolf pack in the United States. Though she lives with them, understands the pack mentality and rule system, and is on teasing terms with pack alpha Callum, she still doesn't quite fit in. She eschews the pack's bond, having erected mental shields the moment Callum Marked her as a pack member when she was four, is only close to one other Were her age named Devon, and prefers to spend her time in her art studio than run with the pack or join in pack business.
Everything changes when she finds a newly bitten and turned Were in the basement of Callum's house. Problem is Weres are supposed to be born, not made, and humans almost never survive an attack that would lead to a Change. Suddenly, everything Callum has taught her over the years about Weres and their instincts comes to the surface, and she forms a mental bond with Chase, a bond unlike any she has experienced with other pack members.
As it turns out, Chase is not the only secret Callum has been keeping. Memories from Bryn's past return to haunt her, as those memories are eerily similar to the experiences that led to Chase's induction into the werewolf world. Once a stubborn teenage girl who sought nothing more than to establish an identity outside of Were culture, Bryn soon becomes fully indoctrinated in pack mentality, methodology, customs, and justice as she fights to save those who are important to her, and strives to finally find her place amongst the wolves.
I love Bryn. She's got a level head on her shoulders, she meets difficult situations with wit and sarcasm, and she isn't consumed by teen angst or have tunnel vision when it comes to boys. Instead, she constantly looks inward, and seeks to find her place in a foreign culture and to define herself outside of Callum and his pack.
The story itself is completely engaging, and leads the reader through the trials and tribulations of a society driven by the basest of instincts. The pack culture is beautifully depicted, the werewolves way of life both alien yet completely understandable. Pack members are to be protected. Rules are to be obeyed. The alpha's word is law.
Bryn, teenager that she is, has a stubborn streak and often interprets Callum's orders in the opposite way he intended they be received, and thus often finds herself in quite a bit of trouble. Her interactions with older-brother figure Callum are humorous and endearing, her relationship with best friend Devon is filled with good-humored jesting, and her fights with adoptive mother Ali are completely realistic.
Chase is a fascinating character, and I like how things play out between him and Bryn. Their relationship doesn't consist of covert glances from across the room, and they don't exist solely for a brush of the other one's lips or fingertips. Their connection is intense, and has every possibility of becoming life threatening if Chase loses control of his wolf. Their shared memory of a Rabid wolf with a star-shaped mark on his head strengthens their bond, and helps each of them find their way from outsider to intrinsic member of the Were world.
The ending is wrapped up well enough that I'm not cursing every minute until the next book comes out, but opens the door to enough future possibilities that when it does, I will be knocking people out of the way to get my hands on it first.