Sunday, October 3, 2010

Book Review: Nightshade by Andrea Cremer (Blog Tour Stop)


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?


The Short Version:
Interesting in premise and launching quickly into the action, Nightshade seemed to focus more on the love triangle between Calla, Ren and Shay than on really propelling the plot. While hints of the overall plot and conspiracy type situation were interspersed, the majority seemed to really center on those three. Calla is an interesting character, both flawed and strong, and Ren is especially intriguing in nature and action. The world building was done in an interesting way that I had a hard time with, but overall, the way Cremer has presented her wolves is unique and most definitely made into something all her own. With also a unique culture for the wolves and setting, there are some great elements in this book and it ends, overall, on a great note to launch into the next book.

The Extended Version:
Calla is an interesting character both in personality and mindset. Having grown up not only as an alpha, but knowing she would, upon turning eighteen, be united with Ren, has left a clear impact on her thoughts and actions. She is fiercely loyal to her pack and her future, and though this isn't immediately easy to comprehend as a reader, Cremer mixes it into the story and reemphasizes it subtly throughout. Calla is surprisingly oblivious to things, often too distracted with simply being an alpha to see what is in front of her, and some of her interactions with both Shay and Ren did bother me, but overall, I found her to be likable in a gruff way, and understandable as a product of her culture and community.

Ren is strikingly sexy, dangerous in way inherent to his alpha male nature, and the constant mixture between human and wolf instincts played strongly through him. A playboy and flirt, he seems to have had many conquests but sets his sights on Calla at the start of the book, particularly now that their impending union is drawing near. They both take their union duties seriously, and much of their character strengths and connections draw up through this. Ren is a mix of things both good and bad, flawed in interesting ways but so many of the scenes with Calla held such sweet underlying natures that he was easy to fall for.

Shay admittedly bothered me, and often seemed to be there primarily to just create a love triangle. I had a hard time understanding Calla's attraction to him, and many of his actions bothered me, but he still added humor and drove the plot in a few places. He tested Calla's character in needed ways, and plays an interesting part in things overall, some of which were predictable while others blindsided me.

The rest of the members of both the Nightshade and Bane packs had varied personalities, and their interactions spoke both to their individual pack mindsets and as one soon to be united pack. They all showed an interesting mix of their two sides, and the connection between them all was written fantastically and strongly. The two alphas challenged each other often with their packs by their sides, while still finding common, mutual ground. The packs alone gave plenty of insight into the world they were brought up in, and the lore surrounding them was slipped in throughout in an easy way.

One of the angles of this book I think Cremer absolutely nailed was the culture itself, giving it so many links to cultures that exist currently in our world. This isn't a system that is perfectly unflawed and without corruption. The full nature of the world Calla lives in doesn't even come out in this book, but hints of the darker side are brought in early. From adults using the Guardians for their own purposes, to Guardians taking up those positions to protect others, and their own forms of torture and law enforcement, it speaks such raw truths and is presented in both a smooth but unflinching manner. The darker areas aren't harked on and thrown in the reader's face repeatedly, but they are presented in a way for a strong impact. Though I did find it frustrating when Shay more or less told Calla her culture was crap, I could understand his perspective and annoyance with it. Even the differences in jobs for the alpha male and female are easy to understand but frustrating in nature and course. There are such truths and connections Cremer has built with this angle, and overall, she handled it magnificently.

Though the world building came across as choppy to me, at least at the start, it tied together towards the end. I spent a good beginning chunk of the book not completely understanding Calla's world, even as she made references to it, but after a certain point, Cremer started revealing in a steady way without data dumping and overloading the reader. The overall plot and nature of things is clearly well thought out and intricate.

I did feel much of the world and plot itself was washed out and pushed aside in light of Calla's apparent strong feelings for both Shay and Ren. I had a hard time following her reasons for these back and forth feelings, as she seemed to have little interest even in Ren before the opening of this book, and I also thought it was dragged out too long. I had a hard time getting into the book because it seemed to center on this angle, without giving much other plot, but once things started picking up about half way through, Cremer really started throwing some good hooks and building things to a surprising ending. Cremer's writing, however, is very strong, painting some fantastic pictures and using quite a few unique ways to express and show things. Though there was repetition in how often Calla was turned on, Cremer used plenty of fresh things for other angels.

With a large cast of characters, all of whom are well developed and portrayed, and plenty of unique plot aspects, Nightshade is, overall, a great debut and an interesting reading. Leaving off on a good point to tie several things of this book up but leave mystery of the next installment, Cremer's plot intricacy is stunning overall. In a world filled with secrets, and with Calla harboring plenty of her own secrets, Cremer has created a unique recipe for potential disaster.

Source: ARC received for review from publisher and used as part of a promotional blog tour with The {Teen} Book Scene
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 528 pages
Publisher: Philomel (October 19, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 039925482X
ISBN-13: 978-0399254826


  1. I really loved this book but I can understand why you felt the way you did for certain parts of the book. Thank you for the eloquent and honest review.

  2. I love your reviews. I'll probably wait a bit on this one. I'm not really big into the werewolf genre just yet.

  3. Great review! I had a harder time trying to write mine yesterday. I really enjoyed the book as well, but found it hard to talk about high points without giving something away!

  4. With all the pre-release marketing/hype I'm worried the book isn't going to stand on it's own. I'm also a little worried about starting another series. I don't mind a series as long as each book has it's own two legs. I'm on the fence about this NIghtshade stuff. Thanks for this review.