Nightshade (Nightshade, #1; Nightshade World, #4)by Andrea Cremer Published 19 Oct 2010
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Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she'll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters' laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known.
By following her heart, she might lose everything- including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?
"A finely-wrought compelling tale of romance and treachery..."
-Cynthia Leitich Smith
(New York Times bestselling author of
Eternal and Tantalize)
"Nightshade (Nightshade, #1; Nightshade World, #4)" Reviews
Usually, as a reviewer of YA and one who attracts a relative amount of trolls, I get told often that someone as OLD as me shouldn't be reviewing YA books. And at the staggeringly long-lived age of 25, I might as well be on Kidney dialysis and walking around with a zimmerframe to these people.
Coincidentally, how do you like my tiara?
Usually, I ignore these people because I can easily pretend to turn off my hearing aid and go to sleep. They stop annoying me when I "pretend" to fart in my sleep and snore simultaneously.
For the first time, probably ever, I really feel the distinction. I didn't like this book, so I'll still rate it. In fact, I didn't get past page 46 because I was afraid my eyes would roll out of my head if I kept pressing on.
This book is for teenagers. Like, teenagey teenagers. Of which, I am not one of them.
This book will relate to people who still think your clothing defines absolutely every aspect of your personality and who you can be friends with. Who still think that the most important thing is that's you're listening to the right bands and doing you're hair the way it's cool to do it now. People who GET Fred. *Disclaimer here: By "get Fred" I don't mean, "Get Fred and choke the life out of him because he shouldn't be allowed to exist." But if you did think that's what I meant then I think we can remain friends.
I am not teenagery. My teenage cousin spent her Christmas money on hair products because she needed to update her range. I spent my Christmas money on NOT defaulting on my homeloan by spending the GNP of Brazil on haircare products. I dress nicely and I will never, ever, get mistaken for a teenager. I wear PEARLS! Real pearls.
This book is SO not for me.
This review also appears on my blog:
This book is preposterous, degrading, and offensive to strong women everywhere.
There. If you disagree passionately with that statement, you will be offended by what follows.
You've been warned.
Oh yeah, and spoilers ahead, because I don't really care enough about this Idiot Plot enough not to give it all away. Capice? Good. You may proceed.
The worst part of Nightshade is that I actually liked the basic concepts. The notion of a world populated and semi-controlled by witches and werewolves, with incubi and chimerae and all that other good stuff- that interests me. I could go with that. So it's a shame to see that ruined by a cast of characters that made my blood boil, and plot that involved most of said cast being stereotyped and/or just plain willfully ignorant, and the only exception being stereotyped and occasionally douchebaggey.
But the one I really want to talk about is Calla.
At first, I was glad to see her characterized the way she is. A female alpha, a warrior, in command of her pack? GIRL POWER!
What followed was an argument between me and this book. Went something like this.
Me: GIRL POWER!
Book: GIRL POWER!
Me: So, because Calla's full of win and GIRL POWER, she's going to stand up to Ren and be his equal, right?
Book: Sure, since he says that's the way he wants it.
Book: Well, obviously male alphas have authority even over the females. You know, like in real wolf societies?
Me: Yes, but these are WEREwolves. They've got to have been influenced by feminism, right?
Book: No, they don't. I don't want them to. Then I wouldn't get my enthusiastically flity/feminine best friend, or the stereotyped tomboy bitch, or the empty shell of a girl who follows said tomboy bitch around.
Me: And Calla?
Book: Calla's an ALPHA. GIRL POWER!
Me: Yes, but no. See, she's very clearly an alpha in name only. Everyone- even her own pack before the union- defers to Ren. At times, they stand up to her and basically tell her to go to hell with her commands. IF she was an alpha with GIRL POWER, she would keep them in line and actually behave like a leader. Instead, she lets everyone steamroller her- from Ren to Shay even when he's human. She's never in control of her life, and she hesitates to take control. For an alpha, she's not assertive in the least. All it takes is a little kissing for her to give up every thought in her head, if she had one in the first place.
Me: And then there's her mother. You know what part bothered me most? I marked it specifically. "You cannot cross an alpha male, even when you belong to another. You risk your own life to do so." That's what Naomi tells her daughter after Ren's father has been sexually harassing her. Now, I understand the point in the society of the Guardians. BUT. Look at the larger message. You know what she's saying?
"If the men are stronger than you, you become their possession, and others of that level of strength may also possess you unless your owner man fights for you."
Here's my response.
Book: Have an angsty ending?
Me: NO. GO DIE.
And that's pretty much it. I would have been less insulted if Calla hadn't been an 'alpha'; by putting her in a position of assumed power and then subverting it, Cremer made her even weaker and more of an affront to true strong women.
This is undoubtedly the worst YA novel I've read this year. I suffered through about 50% of the audiobook, i.e. 6 long, excruciating hours, waiting for it to start making sense, but it never did. Eventually I became too annoyed to continue.
Cremer rarely bothered to explain her world, but even when she did, the Keepers and Guardians made no sense to me. ‘Sink or swim’ is how I would describe her worldbuilding, at least in the first 40% or so - the story just goes on and you either get it or not. Not. I still don’t understand why these Guardians, werewolves, warriors, whatever you want to call them, would answer to a group of witches, allowing themselves to be controlled in such a horrible way. They can’t be dominant, Alpha, and submissive at the same time.
I love my shapeshifter books as long as they don’t break one simple rule: the author needs to explain clothes right away or I’m done. I don’t care what the explanation is: the clothes can magically appear, they can be hidden somewhere or people can just walk around naked, but I need to know. For the longest time in Nightshade, Calla kept changing forms in public without any mention of clothes. It was explained eventually, but by then I was too angry to even care.
You know how sometimes it seems, especially in books with a really strong plot [spoilers removed], that the love triangle was thrown in afterwards, probably to satisfy the publisher’s demand? Well, in this case, I’m betting there was an editor somewhere along the line who said: “Wait just a second, Ms. Cremer. This book needs an actual plot! It can’t ALL be just Calla going from Ren to Shay and back.” And so she was forced to add this plot she probably deemed unnecessary and even damaging to her beautiful love triangle drama.
The love triangle was painful to endure. Calla is a terrible, selfish character with double standards, Shay is mostly just pathetic and Ren is blind to it all. Of course, if I had to choose, I’d choose Ren in a second because he has that sexy name going for him and he occasionally shows some backbone, which is more than I can say for either Calla or Shay.
As Lora pointed out in her comment, the ratings are all over the place. It’s quite possible that some of you will find this story interesting and enjoyable. Many of my friends did. But if you don’t like love triangles, stay far, far away from this series.
Oh forget about it, enough already. I sat through 221 pages of torment, and I've had enough, I can't take it anymore.
I spent months looking forward to this book. I mean, come on, just look at the pretty cover. The idea sounded great too. What could possibly go wrong?
Calla is the virgin (I cannot stress enough how much of a virgin she is) alpha female who leads a pack of wolves, and soon she will be dropped into some kind of arranged marriage business with the alpha male of another pack of wolves, Ren. Who has seen every pretty girl in school naked, except for The Virgin Calla, who 'needs to remain pure until the union'. (I'm trying not to laugh right now) All of them go to the same school together. All is well. Enter Shay. Who is nearly killed off by... I think it was a bear, I can't even remember. Calla breaks just about every wolf rule in the book and saves him by feeding him her blood. She doesn't know why, she just.... wantsssssss him. *dreamy eyes* ....
*stomps her foot to make the bubble burst*
You'd think the cover has something to do with nightshade. Well, that's an honest mistake, but you couldn't be further from the truth. No, this book is actually filled with purple prose, page after page, after page. So it literally bleeds purple.
A lot of the wolves engage in curling lips/growling at each other. Seriously, have you even tried doing one of those things yourself? Lip curling only works if you are Elvis, and growling sounds too silly to be threatening.
Now, I wouldn't nag about this if these were the only things that were wrong with this book, but my next two subjects are what basically killed the book for me.
First of all: when they turn into a wolf, their clothes just.... disappear. And reappear when they turn human again. At first I was constantly confused, thinking 'um this girl is naked and nobody seems to notice?' but then they, and I'm using those annoying quotation mark hand gestures, "explain" it. They are always wolf and human at the same time. Calla could make herself look like a wolf wearing clothes, but she doesn't see the point. So all her clothes must be magical. They don't rip, they don't have problems with the differences between the shape of the bodies. I'm not saying the whole concept of people turning into wolves is logical, but this is just lazy writing, not to mention effing convenient. It makes it so much easier for her to FLASH into a wolf mid-air and FLASH back to her human form. It's a real argument stopper, I'll tell you that.
And secondly, my biggest problem: the relationship between Calla and Shay: it misses everything. Buildup, an actual reason for them to want to be together, chemistry, sexual tension, you name it. They just react like magnets for no reason at all. "Oh hi there, you look hot, I look hot, both of us are off limits to each other, want to boink?" I really like the whole star-crossed lovers concept, but for god's sake, please stop with the I-want-you-because-you-are-there-romances. It never works, it's getting really old and it seriously kills my buzz.
The one relationship I did like was kept in the background. And I adore her brother, Ansel. ♥
1 star for not liking it, 1 star for the cover. I'm not making sense. Sue me.
When I first read the description for this book, I thought "Here we go with the werewolves again." We're werewolves. We like to run. We like to hunt and we like to kill vampires. Thankfully, there was pretty much none of that in this book. No vampires? Amazing!
Recently I've been in a bit a of a rut, and despite picking up some really interesting books, nothing lately has been holding my attention. I find my mind wandering to other completed series. Hmmmm, I wonder what Peeta is doing right now.
But finally! Finally, something held my interest and had me itching to find out more. I just love that feeling! When a book gets under your skin. When you start daydreaming about other things going on in it's world, searching for sub-text and insight into the characters minds.
As much as I hate to admit it, I couldn't wait to find out what Ren would do next. Don't get me wrong, I love my hero types; but sometimes, just sometimes, I love some bad in my boys a little bit more. I mean I'll take Han Solo over Luke Skywalker any day.
And Ren is all the best kinds of bad. To put it eloquently, he has the perfect combination of not giving a crap and at the same time giving a crap. That is really hard to even out with many characters. Many male characters tend to be either too chauvinistic or way too bleeding-heart. Ren is the perfect wicked combination. Maybe not the perfect match for Calla, but I LOVE him. Don't get me wrong: I love Shay as well, just not in THAT kind of way.
I also really appreciated that this book was not all about warring factions of supernatural creatures like so much of YA fantasy, although it pushes toward a future of war. This first book of the series was more about a single faction establishing peace amongst themselves and unravelling the mysteries of the past.
Also, alot of first person young adult books tend to either have to much dialogue or too much inner dialogue. This had it just right, and the tone and descriptions were very nice.
I was glad to see that they got a lot of answers to questions raised about the union and such, instead of stringing us along with endless cliffhangers and no resolution in sight. And yes, it ends with a cliffhanger, but it is the best kind. The kind that opens up a whole new realm of possibilities.
The plot is simplistic and primarily romance driven, but it is an easy page turner, which is what I happened to be in the mood for. Yeah, this book may be full of taboos. Werewolves (Those are in right now?) A love triangle (Haven't read one of those in a while!) So what? It just does it all so damn well.
If you're looking for a plot heavy book with an in-depth and sensible story, then this might not be for you right now. But if your looking for a romance and tension-filled read with that addictive quality, and don't mind a love frustrating love triangle, then go ahead give this one a try.
I really liked this book. I think people who like my series will most likely enjoy this one also. She ends the book on a cliffhanger similar to my style and she has layered in a lot of pieces which means she's got many things yet to reveal. It's exciting and makes me want to reach for the next book immediately. There is also a nice bit of romantic tension.