Saturday, January 1, 2011
Review: Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
Release Date: October 26, 2010
2010 Philomel Books
Hardcover Edition; 455 Pages
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
5 / 5 Stars
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?
Nightshade is one of those books where I was hooked right from the beginning, and couldn't put down the book. It's been a long time since I've stayed up late reading a book into the early morning hours of the morning, but I have to admit I had a hard time putting this one down. It had all of the elements I like in a novel: romance, suspense, adventure, mystery, magic, and forbidden knowledge.
The atmosphere and setting were some of the things I admired most in this novel. Up in the Colorado outback, the deep woods, valleys, and caves make a perfect background for the events in Nightshade. There are so many possibilities for endless mystery and secrecy available here, as well as dark and light to play off one another. The creepy mansions and houses and mysterious libraries are also a draw for a reader who thrives on things mysterious and things secret. And as crazy as it sounds, I couldn't get Lois Lowry's The Giver out of my head the whole time I read this novel as I kept making comparisons between the two novels, in particular the character development and in the settings. The wolf packs are given everything they could want for their daily needs, are deemed superior to humans, so long as they don't go about questioning their daily lives and their daily existence. It's this aspect in particular in which I kept comparing things to The Giver. It's a twisted and deceptive world in which they live, and someone is bound to come along and ask difficult questions and turn their world upside down.
I also really enjoyed the characters and character development. There is really no character that I disliked as they were written and developed so well they were all so enjoyable to read about and to get to know. Calla is such a strong and independent character and I definitely felt her pain as she struggled between her duty and obligation to her growing horror at what she learned about the reality of her situation. I couldn't really say if I liked Ren or Shay better as I admired them both for very different reasons: Shay for his quiet strength and Ren for his deep loyalty to the pack. It was certainly interesting reading about the pack loyalties and hierarchies and how they all fit together. There was one very telling scene when Calla sees her very strong mother defer to an alpha male in a negative way and when Calla questions her mother, her mother replies that you never cross an alpha male even when you belong to another and that's just the way it is. Calla has to readjust her way of thinking and doesn't really like what she sees or what she may have to become.
The writing style is mesmerizing and just sweeps you along and traps you into a very original storyline. I honestly did not know who to root for, Ren or Shay, and admired Ms. Cremer's writing style for making me feel the same conflicting emotions that Calla was feeling. It is a gift to be able to write this way, and I've always needed to feel that connection to the characters in order to become involved in a novel. I was completely involved in Calla's world and could almost smell the leaves on the trees and the pine needles in the forest.
Nightshade is a very enjoyable novel and definitely had more than enough romance and suspense to keep me satisfied through to the end. The treachery and deceptiveness and secrecy are things that I definitely enjoy and just enough information was given to be tantalizing. I am certainly looking forward to the release of Wolfsbane, the second book in this thrilling series in July 2011.