Book Review: Nightshade, by Andrea Cremer

March 6, 2011 at 10:41 am (Book Reviews) (, , )

Calla Tor has always known her fate: she will serve the Keepers as a Guardian, mate with the son of a rival alpha, and together they’ll form a new pack charged with protecting humanity against the Keeper’s enemies. Is the thrilled with it? Not exactly, but she’ll deal. After all, it’s what she’s supposed to do.

Until she rescues a human boy from a bear, a human boy with impossible connections and a history as hidden as Calla’s is clear to see. A boy with enemies, with protectors, with a whole host of secrets even he doesn’t know. And he’s about to turn Calla’s predictable world into chaos.


I admit, I really didn’t want to like this book. Part of it’s the tagline on the cover (“She can control her pack, but not her heart”- I can’t even say it with a straight face, and I know that’s no fault of the author but still) and part of it’s a trilogy I wrote a couple of years ago that brings up some disturbing similarities. I know parallel development happens but it still sucks to encounter it.

That being said, I absolutely devoured it. I think what won me over was the Republicans for Voldemort hoodie. Throw me some geek humor- especially Harry Potter geek humor- and I’m a happy camper. I loved the relationship between Calla and her younger brother Ansel- fun, but there’s also a large level of trust and respect there. It’s clear that he feels comfortable with her as a leader, which can be very difficult for siblings. Ren’s very carefully contained vulnerabilities give a lot of depth to a character who would otherwise come off as little more than an arrogant manwhore. The constant state of challenge that exists between Ren and Calla is brilliant, both in a sense of who they are as people and their instincts as alphas.

Not everying made as much sense for me, but- and maybe this makes me a lackluster reviewer- I can’t always quite put my finger on why. Shay was a problem for me, mainly because I never really felt like I knew him. Ren I understood- in some ways he’s very much a reflection of Calla- but Shay never stepped off the page for me because the urgency and the comics jokes didn’t quite conceal the gap where the person should be. That Calla’s attracted to him, I never questioned; why she’s attracted to him remained more of a mystery. Calla’s relationship with her mother also startled me and, I think, put me off a little, probably because both Calla and Ansel seem to treat her as a somewhat obnoxious older sister. That could account for some of the independence, but Calla seems to spend more of the book barely tolerating and at least passively disliking her mother, and the way both she and Ansel intermittently call her Naomi reinforces that in my mind.

What I really liked- and for me the thing that kept me captivated- was the delicate question that floated like a soap bubble through the action only to finally pop and release a deluge: how much of what we know is truth? Our history, our status, our beliefs, our reasons for doing the things we do, and the way we understand the actions of those around us…how much of that is real? How much of that is truth? It’s a stunningly teenage question. Not that this particular dilemma only hits teenagers, but that’s usually when it hits first and sometimes when it hits hardest. It was beautifully drawn through the events of the books, but instead of trying to give us an answer, it gives us more questions- not just as a lead-in to the next book but as an acknowledgment that all too often, these kinds of questions don’t have easy or simple answers.

I’m often accused of not having a romantic bone in my body, and there’s probably an element of truth to that, but the triangle here really bothered me. Again, I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe it was because Call was so honest (and relatively straightforward about her desires) with Shay, but didn’t give equal honesty to the boy she’s actually planning to spend the rest of the her life with. I get the confusion and the indecision; if she were equally honest or equally secretive with both of them, I don’t think it would bother me nearly so much. I’m assuming this is something that will weave through the next book(s) as well, but for now…well.

I had problems with this books. A lot of problems. The way the school was set up, the fact that no adults were worried about the club/bar for minors, some things I can’t talk about because they’re spoilers…and I still loved it. If you ask me why, I can give you fractured reasons but nothing coherent or cohesive. I had problems with it, but I loved it.

And that’s what’s going to keep it in my thought for quite some time.  Nightshade, by Andrea Cremer. Check it out. Interested in winning an autographed copy? Through March 21st, one lucky person will receive autographed copies of five AMAZING books, courtesy of Beth Revis. Check it out

Until next time~

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