Sunday, November 14, 2010
GUEST REVIEW! Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
I have a special treat! Kristina from Frazzled Book Nommer has agreed to do a guest spot on my blog and share her review of Nightshade with me! I really admire her work because she is very honest and lets me know if I'm going to waste my time with a book or not. I know I can always trust her opinions, even if we differ on our views. Please go check her out! Without further ado, here it is :)
Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she’ll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Renier 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?
I suppose I should start this review off by saying that I was a bit foolish for getting such high expectations based on hype. That in no way means I didn’t like this book – it meant I didn’t enjoy it as much as I could have.
Nightshade starts off with a bang – there’s a bear attack and we get to see Calla in action before really knowing who she is, and there’s a promising romance at the very get-go. The action/pacing dwindled a bit from there, though. The first portion of the book introduces you into Calla’s world and settles into a nice, even pace. We learn about Guardians (shape-shifting, wolf types), Keepers (witch-types), and Searchers (also witch-types who are the bad guys), and all of the dynamics that make up each respective group. At the second half of the book, pieces of the puzzle start to come together and the pacing increasingly got faster, up until the very last page.
The romance made my stomach roll - I'm one of those who absolutely detests love triangles. Sometimes it felt like this book was written around the love-triangle (it was so dang prevalent ineverything) and that the rest of the story was just tacked on for filler. I went into this book expecting to be charmed by both sides, since a lot of reviewers said they were torn between both boys and that hasn’t happened since so-and-so book. I let myself fall for it and go with it, expecting to be charmed by both boys. I’m sure you’re wondering what side let me down. It was Ren.
I get that he’s assertive and mysterious and has that bad boy thing going for him. He obviously comes to care for Calla later in the book and isn’t as confident regarding her as you think. But when I was reading scenes with him in them, I couldn’t help but cringe. Where was the romantic development? Calla was only with him because they were promised to be together. All of the scenes that involved them included either Ren trying to claim her, or to her get away from Shay, or trying to kiss/touch her. Since the Nightshade and Bane packs did not socialize with each other at all until recently (they only started mingling due to Calla and Ren’s upcoming union), I’d expect the two to at least try to get to know each other better. Nope! They never had meaningful conversations, or, heck, just regular conversations! Not only does he force himself on her half the time (that bathroom scene pissed me off), but he hardly ever listened to what Calla wanted or respected Calla’s wishes to be pure for the Union. I’m almost convinced that if someone hadn’t interrupted the two of them every time they were getting hot and heavy, Calla would be a deflowered alpha right now, and not in a romantic way. I don’t care if he’s an alpha – I’d be pissed off if a guy forced himself on me while knowing my personal stance on the issue.
Shay, however, was a gigantic step better than Ren. At least Shay is diplomatic and knows when he’s stepped out of line and rushes to help Calla so she won’t get in trouble. Their romance was one I could stomach – it actually developed. Sure, it was one of those first-glance type romances, but Calla kept denying herself the privilege of Shay so the two actually got to learn about each other and talk about things other than the superficial crap Ren and Calla talked about. He was chivalrous, gentle, and he tried getting to know the people Calla loved better. He actively pushed her to not accept her fate, to not be forced into something she had no control over. He wanted to know what Calla was feeling about her union, and was always worried about her when things seemed off. The best part about Shay? He had every right to give up on Calla – it was clear she was hands-off – but he never gave up trying, not until the last second.
Since I’m talking about Calla, let me just say that she flopped for me. She started off as a strong character, but I could gradually see her turning into mush because of the romance. For someone who supposedly didn’t cry much before this novel, she ended up crying a lot. The one thing I did like about her, however, was the gradual change in her ability to think freely on her own and make her own decisions and judgments on things she’s been brought up with, like her packs history. Her brother, Ansel, was nothing short of adoraaaable. I have to admit that after the first portion of the book, the Nightshade and Bane packs stopped getting some spotlight, and I was a bit sad about that because I just loved Ansel. He’s the typical little brother – always teasing, but is there to listen to Calla or offer his support, and he always backs Calla up.
Some events in Nightshade seemed too convenient, like what happened in Haldis (vagueness is vague!). It seemed almost too easy to change someone into a werewo—oh, excuse me, a wolf; was I really expected to believe a life-changing experience like that would take the course of what... five minutes? Also, the ending seemed to be a bit rushed, to be honest. One minute we’re getting a Keeper explanation and the next, we’re getting thrust into a different situation with no time to digest the information that was just explained to us. I couldn’t even decide on whom to trust before I had to continue. The book ends on such a huge cliffhanger and made me angry, because I wanted to know what happened!
Nightshade was a well-written, tension-filled story that included werewolf (sort of) and witch (sort of) lore. The romance seemed to be the forerunner during the novel and took away from the plot sometimes. The plot was unique, the pacing started out slow but built up gradually, and the end left us with a bang. There were deeper contexts, like freedom vs. fate, tradition, and personal sacrifice, and I felt that the philosophical aspects to this novel were very refreshing.
I wasn’t as crazy about this book as the hype surrounding it, but I did like it! A word of forewarning: it gets a bit steamy in regards to sexual tension. Just for y’all who screen your books.