Author: Andrea Cremer
Page Count: 452
Published: October 19th, 2010
4.5 Stars ★★★★
Calla is a shape-shifter who can turn into a wolf. She is the alpha of her pack, and she is expected to marry Ren, another wolf shape-shifter and another alpha, and to join their packs together. She lives in a world where the Keeper's rule over her, and she is expected to obey their every command. Everything changes when she saves Shay, a human boy, and he sees her shift from wolf to human.
To her dismay, he begins to attend her school, and to seek answers about what happened on that day. What started as a kind act becomes a problem for Calla, especially because she and Shay become closer, and Calla starts to question everything that she has known about her life and her future.
As a big fan of werewolf stories, I couldn't pass on reading this book, and I'm certainly glad that I didn't! While this was a different take on werewolves and witches, it worked well, and the world that the author created was one that stole my attention from the first chapter onward.
The action starts right away, with the first scene being the one where Calla saves Shay, and he sees her shift from wolf to human. This caught my attention as it spurred on the first conflict, the issue of dealing with Shay, which brought on many of the conflicts that occur later in the book. Characterization occurs immediately afterward in the chapters following, where the reader meets the rest of Calla's pack and Ren's pack as well.
The author did a great job of explaining the rules of the world she created to the reader. She also did a great job of making me angry, and therefore, making me interested! Calla is basically forced to marry Ren, and she is subjected to a double standard that is often found in the real world, the human world outside of books, of the "player" guy getting away with everything, and the "virgin" girl expected to stay "pure". This was an important aspect of the book as it provided extra tension considering Ren's advances and Calla's complicated relationship with Shay, and it helped make the world seem all the more real to me.
The take on werewolves in this book was different to that of other books because in Nightshade, they don't seem to have much power. They are under the rule of the Keepers, expected to obey their commands and do as they say, even taking abuse and mistreatment quietly. This is in contrast to other interpretations of books that I've read, where werewolves are powerful creatures, feared by humans and other creatures within the supernatural or paranormal communities alike. Needless to say, it was an interesting and unique interpretation, and I thought the use of a paranormal hierarchy was done well with adequate back story and explanations.
As Calla starts to question what she's expected to do in her life, she begins to rebel. Rebellion is a theme that I truly enjoy reading about, and the author used it to its full advantage. Tensions rose as Calla took more and more drastic measures to uncover the truth and try to lead her own life, from spending time with Shay, to questioning her engagement to Ren, to sneaking into libraries and reading forbidden books.
The ending is definitely a cliff hanger, in my opinion. As I loved the book and I want to know what happens next, I will certainly be looking for a copy of the second novel!
I recommend this book to those who like stories about werewolves. If you're interested in YA books about romance and rebellion, this is a great pick.