Nightshade (Book 1)
Publisher: Philomel (Division of Penguin)
Age Group: Young Adult (15+)
Source: Public Library (Local)Next: Wolfsbane
Overall Feelings: A fantastic debut novel!
Faster, Less Detailed Review: Andrea Cremer touched on a lot of different topics and concepts heavily debated and analyzed in society. Censorship most especially. All the while, she weaves in a dark, supernatural element to her story. Added to that, there's love and romance blooming everywhere. A love triangle forms with Calla, the heroine, herself included, love amongst the packs, and so on. It is a spectacular debut novel, one that kept me on my toes the entire time I was reading it.
So, it wasn't very fun watching everyone else post reviews for Nightshade and talk about how wonderful it is, while I still hadn't gotten the book. But, now I can look at everyone and say, "Hah!" Because I picked this one up at my blessed library. Yay!
Right away, I was caught in the opening scene. Isn't it awesome when a book jumps into the action as early as possible? And that alone told me that this book wasn't going to waste any time, wasn't going to take five gagillion years to get to the point, the heart of the story. And I was right. There was no b.s. in Nightshade, which I loved.
I wish that I was hanging out with both the Nightshades and the Banes! Each of the members of the packs are distinctly cool (not like the temperature) in their own way. They all mesh well together, they all have the potential to be great together. The pairings (couples) worked nicely, I didn't not like any one match. What was a surprise, even for me, is that I decided Calla should be with Ren, rather than Shay. (I thought it was going to be the other way around.)
Ren, the way I see it, while Calla may love him, she harbors resentment because he represents everything she wants to get away from: tradition, expectations, laws, servitude. He is the essence of what her world is all about and therefore the iron bond of her imprisonment. While Shay is the equivalent of freedom, the exact opposite of Ren. With Shay, Calla can be herself in every way, in personality, thoughts, sexuality. Everything. But, despite that, I want her to be with Ren. I know, super weird, right?
But, the thing is Ren is the player who cares, the popular boy of the school that you secretly love. The arrogant guy with a gooey center. The guy who only goes soft when it's the person he cares for, loves. Yes, Ren is that guy. How can I not love him? Shay on the other hand, to me, is the typical ideal of young ladies. Sensitive yet strong. Don't get me wrong, I really like Shay, but Ren won me over.
What I loved most about this novel, is some of the things it depicted that have happened throughout history and is still being implemented in society now. Women having to be submissive to males, letting the male lead and have what he wants. Women are supposed to be lady-like and tender, not assertive and strong-willed. Trained. Then, the whole Guardians' servitude. The fact that they can't lead their own lives, make their own decisions, that they are at the beck-and-call of the Keepers, their masters.
Nightshade really exploits the ugliness of the world, the buried shame in its history, but with a supernatural take. Which makes it almost nearly perfect. It sends a message (like with the censorship issue) but is cleverly hidden behind the guise of the paranormal.
If your thing is werewolves, romance, and the importance of individuality, then you should head off to your local book store and pay for a copy of Nightshade.
Thanks for reading!