Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Review: Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Publisher: Philomel
Publication Date:  October 19th, 2010

I can't believe it took me so long to read this book! It has been on my TBR list forever, and I was drawn to this book from the moment I saw it (the cover is absolutely stunning). I guess there were just other books that I needed to read first, but honestly, this book was so amazing, I wish I had put it ahead of most of them.

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?
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

I know I'm in the minority when I say this, but I really did not care for Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls series) at all. It was the only one of the series that I read and I was really disappointed. I expected so much more- probably because of all the hype surrounding it. When I heard that Nightshade was about wolves, my first thought was, "Oh, great. Now come the Shiver/werewolf rip-offs to go with the Twilight/vampire rip-offs." I'm pretty sure that was the reason for my literary procrastination... Well, I can tell you, like many of the vampire books that came in the wake of Twilight's success, this was MUCH better than the "original". I LOVED it!

The playroom after my marathon reading of Nightshade.
It's totally different from the other wolf books out there in so many ways. The biggest, and most positive difference is that there is no weak, whiny, lovesick human girl in love with a paranormal creature. The female protagonist is an Alpha female wolf (they don't really call them werewolves in the book). She's strong and independent, and she kicks butt in battle. Another difference that I loved was that this book is SO not a love story. Yes, there's a romantic element that adds to the story, but the book is not centered on that. This is an adventure that is so imaginative and awesome that I had to let everything else go while I read it straight through (and that's saying a lot because I am a stay-at-home-mom of 3 young children, and 2 days of my not doing anything gets my house classified as an official disaster-zone; see playroom photo above-right). It also had such a great message about not accepting the status-quo if it feels wrong, even if you might suffer severe consequences for standing up for what's right.

Andrea Cremer did a great job developing the characters. I loved that characters I didn't like in the beginning grew on me to the point that I was rooting for them by the end, and vice versa. Just like people I meet in real life, I had to get to know some of the characters before I could make my judgements. I also think she did a great job with the pacing of this book. I never felt like it dragged in the slightest. It was a pace that kept me turning pages, but not frenetically, where I had to speed read to get to the next chapter, potentially missing important details.

I had only one complaint with this book, and I won't delve into it too much because I don't want to give any spoilers and it wasn't a big enough issue to make me give it fewer stars... It was a little predictable at times. I saw (and anyone with half a brain would have seen) one of the major climactic reveals coming way ahead of time. I almost wish she would have led me to believe it was going to happen, and then changed things up. I found myself being mad at the characters for being so dumb as to miss it. There were a couple of other things that I called before they happened too, but at the very end of the book, Cremer totally (and I mean, TOTALLY) redeemed herself. The ending was such a shock that I literally sat there for a few minutes with my mouth hanging open (then I sent Andrea Cremer a tweet to let her know how mean I think she is for leaving things the way she did). In hindsight, it is probably a good thing that I put off reading this book for so long. I would have been so mad if I had read this when it was released, and then had to wait almost a year for it's sequel, Wolfsbane (releases July 26th, 2011).  Now, I only have to suffer for a couple of months to find out what happens next (unless some nice publisher happens to give me an ARC *wink, wink*). 

All in all, this was a great book. Definitely one of my top reads so far this year. In this case, judging the book by it's cover totally paid off. If not for the cover, I probably would not have read it, and I am so VERY glad that I did!

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★  

Grade Level Recommendation: This one is hard. It really depends on what type of thing the parent takes issue with... For my daughter, I would probably say 8th grade+. Not so much for content, but because I think a younger reader might miss some of the subtle, but very important interactions. This is not to say that there aren't content issues for younger readers. There is definitely a decent amount of underage drinking, but then, these kids aren't typical "kids" at all. There are a good number of intese physical situations between the protagonist and her "mate", as well as between she and the boy she really likes (no sex though). There is also the implication that some Alphas and Keepers tend to abuse their power to get who and what they want sexually. In the end, I think that any parent considering allowing their under-14 child to read this, should read it first.


  1. Oh wow. Loved the picture of the kids playroom after you finished the book. Luckily I don't keep that many toys around for my daughter to our living room quite that messy. I did find crayon marks all over the stairs this week though...

    I really liked Nightshade. I'm so sad about the cover change though :(

  2. Well, I haven't read Shiver yet but I'm worried I won't like it. I was going to pass this one up but the (not about romance) thing actually made me more interested. I'll have to check it out.

  3. Hi, I'm a new follower :). First of all, I have to say that I was so surprised when I read your bio! I'm 32, lover of all things YA, and grew up in a suburbs of Atlanta! I live in CO now and love it. But I always look forward to visiting GA. Something about red clay, sweet tea, and Braves screams home :).

    Second - I LOVED Nightshade! Have you been to the series website? There is a prequel novella linked there called Shadow Days, I just finished it and it was great - told by Shay's perspective. Check it out :). Can't wait for Wolfsbane! ~ Jen @ A Book and a Latte

  4. I've been wanting to read this title for a while now but it is difficult to read when you have kids as you already know. I have heard great things about this one.

  5. I put off reading Nightshade for similar reasons! I was really concerned it would be a Twilight-werewolf rip-off that was sure to be cheesy and over-the-top. I'm so glad I looked past my beliefs and gave it a shot anyways, because I loved it!

    Team Ren!

    Kelly @ Radiant Shadows


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