I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
Also by this author: The Inventor's Secret
Series: Nightshade #1
Published by Penguin on 2010-10-19
Genres: Animals, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Wolves & Coyotes, Young Adult
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Calla is the alpha female of a shape-shifting wolf pack. She is destined to marry Ren Laroche, the pack's alpha male. Together, they would rule their pack together, guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But then, Calla saves a beautiful human boy, who captures her heart. Calla begins to question everything - her fate, her existence, and her world and the orders the Keepers have asked her to follow. She will have to make a choice. But will she follow her heart if it means losing everything, including her own life?
I am so pissed. PISSED I didn’t read Nightshade by Andrea Cremer as soon as I got my hands on it at BEA. As far as paranormal YA goes, this is right up there with Vampire Academy for me, which FYI is my top YA PNR series. You know how many of us point how sexist a lot of PNR YA is? Well, this book turns these ideas on it’s head. Calla, teen girl and alpha wolf of the Nightshade pack, is about to be married to her betrothed, Ren LaRoche, alpha of the Bane pack, as ordained by a group called The Keepers whom the Guardians (the wolves) are sworn to work for and protect. Of course, this is an obviously patriarchal society, where the male leader is deferred to, just because it’s tradition. Calla does not begin to challenge this structure until she meets Shay Doran, a mysterious new boy who calls things as he sees them.
This book is the antidote. I am torn between hugging it to my chest and pressing it urgently into your hands. The first thing that is awesome about Nightshade is that it recognizes that teen girls are not puritans. SHOCKER they think about sex too! I’m not exactly sure who started the rumor that girls don’t have hormones, or the only girls who like sex are sluts, BUT it’s false. I love that Calla is shown as having racy thoughts, and we see it as normal. As the reader, I wanted her to act on those thoughts. I never thought she was a slut for having hormones. Thank you Ms. Cremer, for dispelling these awful rumors with Nightshade.
Furthermore, the thing I love the most about Nightshade is that it calls out sexism. The reader is shown what a healthy relationship looks like. We see an actual relationship based on equality. BE STILL MY BEATING HEART. Also, double standards are addressed. You see, Ren can go around having sex and kissing other girls before his ‘union’ with Calla. However, Calla must keep herself pure. As the reader, you see the unfairness of this, and feel some fury at a society which propagates the whole boys will be boys notion. And perhaps you may see this paralleled in your high school hallway, or in real life. I know I’ve seen it, constantly. AND I LOVE HOW IT GETS CALLED OUT. YES PLEASE MORE YA LIKE THIS.
We also see how in a good relationship, you aren’t always deferring to your partner on everything. Calla is shown as being visibly uncomfortable when people defer to Ren over her. I like that. I like that she isn’t all, isn’t that sexy, he’s being a protector and macho. No way. Plus plus plus plus there is the portrayal of the idea that women are not property, that statements like ‘you belong to me’ reduces a woman to chattel. This is beautifully illustrated when Shay tells Calla ‘you belong to you.’ Seriously, all my deal-makers are hit.
I devoured this book in what amounts to a day. With excellent characterization and deeper issues to ponder, wrapped in the trappings of a paranormal romance, Cremer is on my list of authors to watch.