Saturday, February 9, 2013

Novel Review: Nightshade (Nightshade, #1) by Andrea Cremer

Genre: YA Paranormal/Supernatural Romance
Rating (Out of 5): ~2-2.5
Publisher: Penguin (Philomel)
Spoilers?: Minor, Very little to actual plot.

Goodreads Synopsis:

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?

Available on Amazon.


Contains a little bit of cursing, in case that bothers you.
When I first picked this up, about the time that it first came out back in 2010, I expected to really like it. And then I read ninety pages and didn’t like it, so I put it back on the shelf and decided to finish it some other time. I finally picked it back up, had to re-read those ninety pages, liked it more, understood what was happening more, but still wasn’t a huge fan.
In my second read, I caught a lot more, understood what was happening a lot easier, and that made it a better experience. I still didn’t enjoy it too much, though, and I still wasn’t a huge fan of the main character.
Sadly, the main character, Calla, bothered me throughout the whole book. My main problem with her is that she’s an alpha. And yet has practically zero qualities to being an alpha. And I would argue that in an actual wolf pack, you don’t become an alpha because your father was one, but this isn’t really a wolf pack. And they aren’t werewolves.
Which, what? I was sure they were werewolves. But they’re not. And so, if like me, you were expecting werewolves and the general mythology that goes with them, get that out of your head right now. Because if you’re picky with myth like I can be, this will be a lot easier to read if you realize that those myths and characteristics don’t apply here. They’re Guardians, not werewolves.
Which, also, they could still have been werewolves but called themselves Guardians, which is what I thought, until she made the actual distinction about it with Shay about 150 pages into the book.
Along with that, there’s this whole clothes issue I had with the book. When they change from wolf to human, they have clothes on. Because they come back in the same state as when they changed and whatever, so they change back in clothes. I found this out, before reading the book, from a review, so I knew this. But the book doesn’t tell you that they’re dressed when they change back until about page 150 as well. So, yea, they’re not running around naked all the time, just to let you know. This bothers me because of the fact that just one more word, in the first chapter, and the whole thing could have been cleared up.
Okay, back to Calla being an alpha: you become an alpha by your parents being the alphas. It’s passed down, not fought over. So the fact that Calla is nothing like what an alpha should be, doesn’t matter so much here.
She points out she’s an alpha several times throughout the book, and even says at one point that she doesn’t want to follow rules or whatever because she’s an alpha. Um, no. You don’t want to follow the Keeper’s rules because they’re horrible and suppressing and assholish. It’s not because you’re an alpha.
And the whole her being an alpha thing, but how the male is the one with all the power drove me crazy. I thought at first that the fact a girl was the alpha would be great, but no, it’s until she gets with the male alpha. She has to stay some holy virgin, isn’t even supposed to kiss the guy she’s being married off to, and yet he can go fuck whoever the hell he wants to, because he’s an alpha male and it’s expected. That’s bullshit and sexist and I cannot stand it. It made me want to scream and throw the book against the wall.
The whole Keeper and Searcher thing also drove me crazy. Not particularly in a bad way, though; maybe in the way intended. The one thing that surprised me, is the way all of it is done, is in a way reminiscent to dystopia. How the Guardians follow the Keepers’ rules without being told everything, and how that is going to lead up to rioting.
I don’t like the Keepers, and I don’t understand how none of the Guardians ever question how things are done; although, really, maybe they do and we just haven’t found out yet. Because the Keepers are obviously censoring all the information they get, the Keepers control everything they do, and why would they believe that the Keepers are protecting the humans? Because, according to the history they’re taught, the Keepers and Searchers fought over the humans existence and the Keepers wanted to help take care of the humans. Well, first of all, apparently how long the Keepers have existed is a lie, but the Keepers also don’t take care of the humans in any way that I’ve seen. I mean, it’s blatantly obvious, because of how often the reader is told that the humans are afraid of the Guardians and the Keepers, that they’re not taking care of them. The humans are terrified of all of them. Which seemed a bit god-mode-y, but whatever. I don’t understand how anyone could believe that.
I wanted the whole pack, all of the Guardians to revolt, and I hope they do.
I’ve talked about the Keeper thing, and the Calla, so: the romance. I was not a huge fan of the romance.
First off, I actually don’t mind either of the candidates all that much. I see potential in Ren, and I even feel a bit bad for him. I mean, he stopped fooling around with other girls and was ready to commit fully to Calla, but instead she fell for someone else. Of course, he needs to get all that alpha male bullshit out of his head so he’ll calm down and not be so domineering, but once he does, he’ll be great.
Then there’s Shay. And, while his personality actually falls below Ren’s, I liked how he thought. He’s the only one who sees reason, who goes looking for information, and sees that what’s happening with the Keepers and Searchers, and what Calla is being forced to do with Ren, isn’t right. And I very much like him for that alone. There was also this one big surprise with Shay, in like the middle of the book, that I wasn’t expecting to happen until maybe the next book, if at all, so that was a bit of a surprise, and I was glad for it.
I don’t think what Calla does with Shay, how she kisses him, is right, comparing to how she’s supposed to be with Ren. But then I don’t think that she should be getting feelings for Ren when she actually likes Shay. Near the beginning, too, she kept pushing Ren away, telling herself that she doesn’t like him very much, then falling into a puddle when he pushes himself at her. All she was doing was playing hard to get, and that’s just dumb.
Lastly, the other characters. I actually found their group of friends interesting. Some of them I didn’t like so much, some of them I wouldn’t mind getting to know better, and some I liked quite a bit. From my first reading, I remember liking Ansel, Calla’s brother, and Bryn a lot more. I still really like them, especially Ansel, but they don’t make the series for me quite like they did at first.
When I first started the re-read, I was expecting to like this book not at all. I was expecting not to want to pick up the next one at all. Now, I’m thinking about it. I’m interested to see what happens, the ending was not very nice at all, wouldn’t mind seeing more of some of the characters, want to see a revolt. Mostly, I’m thinking about this because of the last fifty pages, plus maybe a couple parts throughout the book. A lot of the book was just ‘meh’, though. I wouldn’t have minded putting it down, which is something that I did several times while reading it, which is why it took me, like, three weeks to finish this book.
Now, I’m just left wondering if I actually want to read the next book or not. Because, while there are several things I want to know, I don’t know if I want to read another possible four-hundred pages of this, especially when so little of the book was actually exciting.
Sidenote: another thing that bothers me, is how nice the actual hardback book of this is, considering how not-happy I was with all the words inside it. The pages are all uneven to create that old look, with a very pretty purple binding, and the chapter pages are inked black with a moon in some phase. It’s gorgeous, and yet the book was not quite so deserving of it.

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