Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Good Guys are Never Who they Seem

Wolfsbane (Nightshade, Book 2)
When we last left Calla, she was trying to save Shay from being sacrificed at her bonding to Ren. In their attempt to escape, they were trapped in his house by Incubi, Succubi, and a whole other host of creepy creepers. Just before they were about to be overcome, the Searchers, the very group Calla was raised to fear, fight, and kill, comes to their rescue and take Calla and Shay back to their base. In Wolfsbane, Andrea Cremer gives a whole new meaning to plot twist.

Just when you thought you knew who the bad guys were, you find out you were wrong. The Searchers tell Calla and Shay they are really the good guys who have been fighting the evil Keepers all their lives. The Searchers respect magic and the natural way, when the Keepers defy nature every day. In particular, by creating the Guardians. They want to gain the trust of Calla's pack because having the Guardians on their side is the only way they can stop the evil of the Keepers. But when Calla travels back to Vail, the group is attacked and she quickly realizes the packs have been changed. Nightshades are following the Bane alpha, Ren's father, and her pack is nowhere to be found.

When Calla's brother Ansel arrives after being accidentally shot by Searchers, Calla manages to heal him with her pack blood. Unfortunately, Ansel is more damaged than she originally thought- as punishment, his wolf was permanently removed, stripping him of being a Guardian. Ansel is inconsolable and Calla doesn't know how to help him. When he tells her of the horrors her pack has suffered since she ran away, Calla is determined to help him. A group of Searchers volunteer to come along to help, but what they find is not a full and willing pack awaiting them. Now Calla must find a way to reconcile with losing half her pack, her feelings for both Ren and Shay, and how they all plan to work together to save the world from the Keepers.

This was an excellent follow up novel and sets you right up for the final book in the trilogy. The Searchers added a great group of supporting characters, both with their own problems, love triangles, and reasons for being involved in the supernatural war. Some are serious, some hilarious, but they really added to the story. One really amazing thing I noticed in this story and the first book were the abundance of positive gay characters. In the first book, two young male wolves are in love, but they know their keeper has the ultimate say in mating and would never pair to male wolves. In this book, two female Searchers are a couple and when one is lost on a mission, you see the real grief experienced in losing the person you love. These characters were so positive and just a natural part of the story instead of being forced in for a specific objective. It made me so happy! These healthy, loving relationships are great for young adults to read about. While the stories about the negative end of being a gay teen are so vitally important to our young readers for empathy, I really like seeing happy couples who love each other. Cremer did a beautiful job with them in her story, and I think it is an invaluable exposure for young adults.

The reading and age level for this book is similar to the first book. There is a little more intimacy in this story, as Calla is no longer bound by the Keepers' rules, but it still isn't overdone or gratuitous. The story is exciting enough to keep any reader engaged and make them crave the next book. I know I am!

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