Book Reviews Young Adult Books

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

9 of 10: My kind of fantasy book (no maps!) – not too weird, enough action, and romance – Nightshade was just the right book to get me back into reading after having a baby.

We boxed up every book we owned and mailed it to ourselves in Texas. This was the only book I left out and so, on the five hour plane flight while Ella slept (bless that little baby’s heart), I read.

I hadn’t done much reading since her birth, consumed with the move and the whole “new baby” thing and this book suddenly had me aching to get to the library and start reading again. I looked forward to every time Ella needed to eat, so I could read another twenty or thirty pages.

Look, I know as well as anyone that vampires and werewolves are getting to be a hard sell these days. The letter that came with this book even mentioned how everyone is sick of vampires and I thought to myself, “Um, yeah. And werewolves TOO.”

And then I loved this book in spite of myself, so I guess the joke is on me.

Calla is a werewolf. More importantly, she’s an alpha. She and her family belong to a pack called Nightshade; when she’s 18, she’ll be married to Ren, another teenage alpha of the Bane pack. Their union will mark the formation of a new pack, which they will lead. The wolves are Guardians, the warriors for the Keepers (each pack has a Keeper who is over the whole pack, even the alphas).

Calla likes Ren well enough and isn’t opposed to their union. She’s torn between her attraction to him and her dismay at his reputation as a teenaged womanizer. They’re cautiously making steps toward bringing their packs together, but she finds it hard to not be swayed by Ren’s good looks and obvious flirting with her, so she tends to put up a pretty cold front. Her own romantic experiences are pretty much zero, because an alpha female is expected to be totally pure and Calla has toed the line in that regard.

Where she’s failed to toe the line, however, occurred during one of her regular patrols. A human boy was on the mountain that houses a sacred cave and was attacked by a grizzly bear. Calla, breaking all Guardian rules, saves his life by having him drink a little of her blood and then returning him to his truck at the base of the mountain. If her actions are discovered by the Keepers, it is likely she’ll be killed.

And then that human boy, Shay, turns up at her school (which is half Guardians and Keepers and half humans who know something is weird about their classmates and keep their distance) and obviously recognizes her. And even more strangely, he appears to be connected to her world somehow, even though he’s a human. The Keepers go so far as to tell the pack to watch out for him and keep him safe.

Calla takes this responsibility seriously which means Love Triangle Alert!

There is a lot going on in this book. Calla starts finding out more and more about the history of the Guardians and the Keepers and she’s troubled by some of what she learns. There are the all sorts of relationships that are being held together by only very fragile ties and power struggles from every direction.

I am someone who rarely rarely guesses a plot twist (Bart ALWAYS guesses them), but this one I saw coming a mile away. Did that lessen my enjoyment? Not even a little.

The relationships in this book are stellar – the secondary characters are just as real and intense as the main ones. I particularly loved Calla’s younger brother, who is part of her pack and a just downright lovable guy.

One review of this book said it was a really well-balanced love triangle, but I am afraid that it’s not going the direction I want it to. I strongly strongly prefer one of the boys, but I won’t tell you which one it is – human or werewolf. I’m hoping that, in the end (and oh yes, of course there will be more books in this series), she’ll end up with the one I like more.

The cover on this one strikes me as a bit strange. It’s beautiful, yes, but it also makes it seem more. . .I don’t know, magical/mystical than the book really is. Calla’s no ice queen – she’s a warrior, through and through, and I don’t think this cover reflects that at all.

Usually I don’t like to post about a book too long before it comes out (this one makes its appearance on October 19, 2010), but I’m really looking forward to this one and also I’d like to pass along my copy to someone who is interested.

So, leave a comment before Wednesday, Sept 8th at midnight and I’ll randomly select a winner and send you my copy. It’ll be fun!

Advance Reader Copy provided by Penguin

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  • Reply Chelsea September 2, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    I would totally take that copy off your hands! 🙂

    Here's hoping I win…

  • Reply Elsha September 2, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    Sounds like a good read!

  • Reply Sunny @My Well Calculated Wedding September 2, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    That book sounds awesome, you definitely have me intrigued.

  • Reply Merry September 2, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    I'd like to win! It sounds like a great book!

  • Reply Tina's Blog September 2, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    Now you have me interested…just when I thought I was done with vampires and werewolves.

  • Reply Heather September 2, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    ooh, ooh pick me! My library probably won't get it for another year. They don't even have Mockingjay on order yet.

  • Reply Becky September 2, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    I can understand your reluctance over the vampire/ werewolf thing. The market is certainly over-populated right now. But I still think this sounds a little different. I like the fact that you say she is a alpha. I am not so convinced on the love triangle thing. I am so over love triangles.

  • Reply Danielle B September 2, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    I would love to read this book!

  • Reply jillian September 2, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    While I agree with you about vampires and werewolves, I need something to distract me from only wanting to nest and clean and then clean some more….so pick me!

  • Reply Angiegirl September 2, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Janssen, no need to enter me in the giveaway, but I wanted to say thanks for this review. I've avoided this one because of the fatigue you mention. I'm delighted to hear it's so much better than it looks. 🙂

  • Reply Miss L September 2, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    I'd love to read a satisfying fantasy book with no map involvement. 🙂

  • Reply Smart Girl September 2, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    What a lovely Birthday gift that would be for my birthday on September 9th!!! 🙂

  • Reply Steph September 2, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    I'd love to read it!

  • Reply Lonica September 2, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    Oh! Sign me up! I'd love to read it!

  • Reply Yankee Girl September 2, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    I must say the cover of the book nearly had me turned off but your review has me interested–you have never steered me wrong.

  • Reply Kimberly September 2, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    I went to my library page and requested a copy before I realized it wasn't even the same book! Of course there were a few 'Nightshades' but one even had a very similar cover. That sneaky library.

    I have many fond memories of reading while nursing. I wish I could still get him to hold still every few hours so I could sneak in a few chapters.

  • Reply ccr in MA September 3, 2010 at 12:47 am

    I'm glad to hear about this, especially since the cover doesn't really "speak" to me. There's nothing like a review by a real person to make me want to pick up a book. Pick me, pick me!

  • Reply Brianna Soloski September 3, 2010 at 3:38 am

    I'll give winning a shot!

  • Reply S September 3, 2010 at 3:53 am

    Pick me! Lately I've been picking duds; I can't wait to read a good book again!

  • Reply Anonymous September 3, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    I'm intrigued!

    Becky aka Lighthearted Librarian

  • Reply Liz September 3, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    I REALLY want to read that book. I finally caved in and read Hunger games, then I had to read Catching Fire and Mockingjay…the next night. So, this seems like I book I would really like. Pick me, random number generator!

  • Reply Mia September 3, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    What a terrible cover! But, like they always say, I shouldn't judge a book by its cover. (I just can't help it though! A want to wallpaper my walls with well designed book covers!) But the book sounds good, sign me up for random giveaway!

  • Reply Jess September 4, 2010 at 4:37 am

    Sounds great! I"d love to read it!

  • Reply Miriam September 5, 2010 at 8:26 am

    On my list this one goes! Man….Oct. 19th?? That's the pits. (Make sure my name gets into your drawing!) BTW, got your darling announcement – she is beautiful (and I think looks like you!) I do plan to get a gift off to you before she graduates from college!!

  • Reply The Harris Family September 5, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    I need a great new book! Sign me up! 🙂

  • Reply Anonymous September 7, 2010 at 11:40 am

    I would love to read this book!

    Mary (no blog/no google account just an avid blog reader!)

  • Reply Tara September 7, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    I referred this one to our buyer and she is going to try and order it in. I was hoping she would have an advance readers copy of it but she didn't. I was so sad. I will share with my mom and sisters if I win.

  • Reply Lisa September 8, 2010 at 3:50 am

    I would love to read this. I have done far too little reading as of late!

  • Reply JMay September 12, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    Sounds like such a good book!

    Thanks for the tip 🙂

  • Reply Life After Jane October 14, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    I loved loved this book! It was a big surprise!

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