Author: Andrea Cremer
Publisher: Philomel (Penguin)
Released: October 19, 2010
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Author's Website: http://www.andreacremer.com/
Calla is ready for her mission as set forth by the Keepers: she will have a union ceremony and mate with Ren, the alpha male of the Bane pack, and as the alpha female of the Nighshade pack, she and Ren will lead a newly-formed pack. But when Calla saves a human who wandered too far into sacred territory, and then the human, Shay, shows up in school and Calla is asked by the Keepers to look out for him, Calla begins questioning all she's ever known. Together with Shay, she discovers terrible secrets, about the Keepers, about the Guardian werewolves, about her own destiny.
Nightshade is a refreshingly new voice in werewolf and love triangle YA literature. Both aspects of the book - the paranormal and the romance - are dealt with in a slightly different angle than most books like this that I've read, and Andrea Cremer not only takes on an old topic in a new way, she does it so gorgeously that it just about blows everything that came before right out of the water!
Here's what I love about the book:
There are lots of layers, all interwoven in an intricate way that is easy to follow throughout the book and leads you from one thread to the other until the point when everything gets tied together. The background of the Guardians and Keepers, Calla and Ren's relationship, Calla and Shay's relationship, the various other relationships going on in the pack - they all are told seamlessly.
Then there's the way Andrea handles Calla's two relationships. At first I was a bit disturbed when Calla thinks about both boys, when she desires both boys, but that lasted only a few pages. Andrea portrays Calla's thoughts so clearly that she is vindicated through the narrative and through her confusion. Nothing outright says - this is why she behaves the way she does. It's unclear, which is how she feels. By the end of the book, I understood exactly why she was behaving the way she was even though it was never spelled out. That's really good!
I really like Calla's character. She's a perfect blend of a leader, as the alpha of her pack, and a confused girl, a regular teenager trying to make sense of confusing emerging facts and of her mixed-up feelings. The way her behavior changes as her role changes is so real and is accomplished in the narrative so naturally.
All the little (and not-so-little) clues littering the path building up to the climax results in a WOW of a scene, the last twenty or so pages of the book, at which point I had to remind myself to just breathe. I love the pacing of it, the way we get to know Calla through somewhat everyday life, though there's always something happening, until we know exactly how she'll react to the major events. And at that point, we care deeply about what happens to her, because we feel for her intensely.
This is a book I'm seriously considering buying (the copy I read was borrowed from the library) because I'll want to read this again and again until the next book, Wolfsbane, is released. Besides, do you see the cover?? So utterly gorgeous, and so fitting to the story!