Monday, October 18, 2010

Review: Nightshade

Andrea Cremer
Young Adult
452 pages
October 19th, 2010
Received from publisher

Calla is the young alpha for the Nightshade pack and as such she is expected to set an example of strength, maturity, and dedication to the protection of their masters, the Keepers. Being alpha means more than being a role model, however. It also means her life is not her own. Orders must be followed. Her mate has been chosen. And her union to solidify her status as alpha female looms ever closer.

Perhaps it's the knowledge the course of her life is set in stone that leads her to abandon all her training and disregard pack laws to save the life of a human boy, but whatever the reason, she simply cannot let him die. This one little slip creates a rapidly expanding fissure in Calla's strictly regimented life.

For so long her life has been planned meticulously, but suddenly everything is shifting and spinning out of control. Shay, the boy she saved, not only challenges her mentally and emotionally, but he also pushes her to question her entire way of life and forces her to look deeper into the history of her precious Guardian pack. Her life to this point has been governed by a single truth: the Keepers are to be obeyed and protected, even at the expense of her life. But soon she realizes there are always varying degrees to a single truth.

This story starts out a bit confusing. We are immediately thrust into the chaos surrounding Calla's decision to disobey her pack, and terms are quickly introduced yet we are provided no explanation for them. Guardians, Keepers and Searchers are continually referred to, but the reader has no point of reference from which to garner understanding of these designations, and no history to explain the allegiances of the various characters or the definition of their roles within the group. Because that information is withheld until almost a third of the way through the book, the beginning is a bit disjointed and we are left clawing for comprehension as the plot plunges forward without us.

Just shy of halfway however, the story starts to change forms, shedding it's jumbled and confusing skin and transforming into an engrossing and mysterious read. Once we are provided some much needed information, it's easy to wrap up in that knowledge and snuggle comfortably into an enjoyable storyline. For all straight lines to be towed and rules to be obeyed in the pack infrastructure, there is an edge of rebelliousness among the younger pack members that sends a little electric shock through the pages and readies the reader for the action to come.

Calla for the most part is a strong female lead. Her blind acceptance of pack mentality in the beginning is frustrating at times (though understandable), and her willingness to succumb to the demands of her superiors is somewhat unbefitting of her alpha title. However, as she and Shay uncover some long hidden truths about the pack's history, Calla's defiant nature sparks to life and she burgeons into not only a leader, but also someone who places the safety and security of her friends and family above her own and above those who have long ruled with an iron fist cloaked in generosity.

Shay and Ren, Calla's assigned mate, are both intriguing characters. Typically, one male lead takes precedence in the love triangle formation, proving himself to be the inevitable romantic choice, but Ms. Cremer does a beautiful job of giving both characters incredible strengths and very redeemable flaws, making the reader oscillate between their amorous attentions as much as Calla does. Just as the story is blanketed in mystery and riddled with questions, the various relationships are equally inscrutable and all the more fascinating for it.

The ending is abrupt and leaves the door wide open for book two which I will be eagerly purchasing in order to bear witness to Calla's inevitable progression to a stronger, more powerful alpha, and to watch as her pack blinders are ripped away, allowing her to blink and see clearly for the first time.

Rating: 4/5


  1. Great review. I enjoyed the book as well and can't wait for the next one!

  2. I agree- wonderful book and she did do a wonderful job with both love interests- I can't decide!

    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  3. I can't wait to read this! I love a strong female lead. I heard loads about this book and I am just excited. Nice review :)

  4. I've actually always been a bit more partial to werewolves than I have I'll definitely be checking this one out! :D

  5. Jessica - I could go for the next one right now, wouldn't that be nice?

    Brandi - Me either! I'm genuinely torn.

    Savannah - Can't wait to see what you think!

    Mollie - Once you get into the story and past the beginning, I think you'll like it.

    Carrie - Thank you:)

  6. Great review, Jenny! I'm really looking forward to reading this book. Just by going by its cover, I would have thought it would have to do with the fey instead of werewolves. I never really heard of a female alpha before either, which is interesting.

  7. Yup! Totally agree with your review. I was lost at first, but then completely engrossed!

    I definitely can't wait until book 2.

    Team Ren!

  8. Great review Jenny! Definitely looks like it would be an interesting read.

  9. Rummanah - Thank you! Once you get past the beginning, it's a great read.

    Missie - Glad to see I wasn't the only one, I thought maybe it was just me. Team Ren for sure!

    Kelsey - It was, hope you like it if you give it a try!

  10. Great review! I really enjoyed this book and can't wait for the next one. It really hooks you!

    I don't normally join a "team" but for this book, I am definitely Team Ren!

  11. I do love a good strong heroine. I'll have to give this book a chance-and thanks for the warning about the slow start.

  12. Fantastic Review! I've been waiting for this book for what seems like forever.

    I now know what to expect when I read the book, and not feel like I've missed some crucial information. I went to my bookstore to check if they put it out early, but they didn't lol! I always love reading your reviews :)


  13. Nice review! This is one of my fav. YA releases of this year!! :)

  14. Jen - Team Ren!

    Colette - Calla's a good heroine, not whiny or angst-y really and I think she'll only get better.

    Ashley - Thank you! I'll be interested to see what you think of the beginning, once I got past that I was in love:)

    Ash - I enjoyed, bring on Wolfsbane!

    Tori - Go gets!

  15. Another fabulously written review from you - but then again, I seriously doubt that you could ever write a crap review :-). I've heard many people expressing the same initial confusion that you have, but I definitely still plan on giving this ago. Glad you read through and got to a point where the book become utterly engaging for you. Definitely means worth investing in.

  16. Tammy - Thank you so much:) This one is definitely a good read once some of the confusion clears up. I couldn't put it down and turned the last page hoping more would magically appear!

  17. Found your blog through the Book Blogger Hop! I've been hearing a lot about this book lately, and it sounds pretty good. Despite the mad scramble for understanding, I sometimes like it when the author doesn't spend a lot of time on backstory and just lets the reader catch up.