Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
My first thought when seeing this book was "oh no, not another book about horror movie creatures updated to sexy protagonists" (eg, vampires, zombies, etc.). Lucky for me, this new take on werewolves is better than that; one might say that this isn't about werewolves at all, it's about dual-natured creatures that can shift between human and wolf form at will. So, slightly different.
Calla's life has been defined by being an alpha in a pack of Guardians, knowing that she will marry (mate with?) Ren, another alpha. This is who she is, what her life has always been. Shay, a normal human guy, arrives in town and her assumptions about her life change, as do her relationships with her pack and Ren. Her confusion about these changes, as well as her emotional distress at being caught between Ren and Shay mimic the real-life confusion many of us go through as we reach the end of our high school careers and explore dating (and other relationships). I particularly liked that Shay wasn't just there as the Exposition Human, that the world of the Guardians and Keepers (and, to some extent, Searchers) was slowly revealed without huge passages of "and then this, and then that" narrative.
My biggest complaints were: the pop cultural references (those get dated really fast!); the way in which a handful of students, possibly 20 total, somehow terrified and cowed the rest - unless the school was far more exclusive than the book implies, it just doesn't make sense; and the abrupt ending. Yes, this is yet another series and clearly you need to end with a cliffhanger, but I felt as though it ended almost in the middle of a sentence (it doesn't, quite). I know that the second book will follow this story, not pursue another narrative thread that takes place in this world (as Fire or Scumble do). I feel manipulated into buying another book, which makes me feel a little resistant (although I probably will buy it).
ARC provided by publisher.
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