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Book Review: Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

This is going to sound blasphemous to some, but I love the newer cover to the book better than the old one. I mean, isn’t this one pretty awesome?!

Book Review: Nightshade

Title & Author: Nightshade: Book 1by Andrea Cremer

Genre: YA- Fantasy (Werewolves)

Release Date: October 19, 2010

Series: 1st in a planned trilogy (2nd book-Wolfsbane; 3rd book- Bloodrose)

Publisher: Philomel

How I Got the Book: Bought

Description: “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?”

GoodReads| Amazon| Author WebsiteA link to an ADORABLE  video webisode series from Shay!

Another 2-Nighter

I don’t know what’s gotten into me, but I can’t force myself to stop reading these heart-throbbing books lately! First it was Firelight, and how it’s Nightshade. I’m going to be mentally puking up love triangles and high school angst all over the place if I don’t watch out…

I liked Nightshade for a bunch of reasons- one of the main ones being that I hadn’t read a story that included werewolves as the main fantasy creature. Although Twilight started the trend, werewolves are rarely “king of the jungle” even in adult fantasy novels. This was a refreshing take on an idea that’s been around for awhile.

Another thing I enjoyed was Cremer’s use of “teen speak” that’s free of cliches and cheesiness. There are random pop culture references that may surprise you, but, to me, they added humor and flavor to the story. Like this:

“Come on Mowgli, Let’s go kill Bambi.”

“He sent a haughty laugh into my mind. You do realize you just mixed Disney metaphors. Wow, Calla, now I’m just sad for you.”

Endearing, no?

On to the romance…What’s really unique about Nightshade is that Calla interacts with both of her men— the overly self-confident werewolf Ren and the shy, new kid, Shay. It kept things interesting because I wasn’t really sure who Calla’s going to end up with even in the end. I mean, the book ends a certain way but there’s no way to be absolutely sure until the end of the series. (Vague enough for you? I just hate spoilers!)

Plus- both guys offer Calla very different things, and I was really torn on which guy I liked more! Maybe when I read Wolfsbane, I’ll pick a team and reveal it to via a picture of an Etsy T-shirt. Don’t worry, I’m sure one exists for Team Shay and Team Ren. :)

Every Rose (or Calla Lilly) Has its Thorn

(Did I just quote a Bret Michaels song?! Ok, let’s pretend like that didn’t happen…)

One of the only things that was tough to read about in this book was the alpha/werewolf hierarchy. Calla and Ren are each a part of rival packs- Nightshade and Bane (respectively). Even though Calla is an alpha and a leader in her own right, she knows that when she marries Ren, he will technically be the head alpha.

Ok, that’s not so bad, right? Wait for it…the leader of the entire Bane pack is notorious for sleeping with whatever woman he wants- whether they’re married or a teenager doesn’t matter. This sort of blatant male domination permeates the entire world created in this book.

Another example is that Calla’s dad and Ren’s dad are mega rivals and can’t even be in the same room together. One day, while Calla’s dad is out, Ren’s dad stops by and basically feels up Calla’s mom while her mom just sits there and takes it. When Calla demands to know why her mom let that happen, her mom says that she had to recognize Ren’s dad as an alpha and that he could essentially do whatever he wanted to her.

Umm, what?! After a few other scenes where the women in the book are treated lowlier than the men despite supposedly having leadership within the packs, I started to feel a icky about the pack system and the way women were being treated.

My hope is that Nightshade was all a set-up for the next two books- to illustrate what’s wrong with the packs that needs to be changed.

Overall

In an endless sea of YA fantasy novels, Nightshade really stood out to me. Between the unique take on werewolves and the funny pop culture references, this book impressed me. Even though the heavy male dominance bothered me a little at times, I think Cremer is setting up the plot for future novels, and I have faith that Calla will have her day!

Can’t wait for more Calla + Shay + Ren action? Don’t forget to check out the link at the top of the page for the first webisode of a series by Shay! So cute!

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • http://www.onceuponaprologue.blogspot.com Molli

    I hope you’ll check out the sequel, Wolfsbane. I really enjoyed it. Cremer did a GREAT job of building on her ‘verse in the sequel, ramped up the action and the stakes, and we saw some awesome character development.

  • Deadtreesandsilverscreens

    I agree with you about the females not being treated properly in this book. That was something that really bugged me. Otherwise it was a great book. I may be buying the sequel tonight if its not too much.

  • http://twitter.com/heylisarenee lisa

    was not aware of all the pop culture references in this one. i am intrigued!

  • Melissa Hayden

    Ha ha! So glad to hear you loved this one. :) ANd to read it so quickly. That is a great sign. :) Thank you! I do have this one on the want list.