Sunday, August 21, 2011

Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

This book was a lot of fun! I needed something YA, fluffy, and fun yesterday, and I got it! I had just finished an adult book for an adult book club I was leading at my library, and it took me a while to read it. So a fast-paced, supernatural YA book was just the medicine I needed.
Raised by Wolves is about Bryn, a human girl, literally raised by wolves. From the first few sentences of the book, it is clear that Bryn is no docile creature among the pack. She fights pack protocol at every turn. She puts up mental barriers that prevent her pack from reading her. And she is part of the pack. When she was a small child, she was rescued from a rabid werewolf who attacked her family, brutally killing her parents in front of her. She was rescued by the alpha of her pack: Callum, who marked her as his own. In werewolf lingo this means that any wolf who touches her, has to deal with his wrath.
Brought up among wolves, Bryn stands out. Partially raised by Callum (her father figure of sorts) and Ali (mother figure), the only other human around, Bryn’s life is very interesting. When she’s not in her artist’s studio, she’s practicing self-defense with Callum, or working on her mental blocks, preventing the pack from reading her secrets. Her world becomes even more complicated when she discovers a wolf locked up in Callum’s basement. She immediately feels a connection between herself and this lone wolf: Chase. She goes through wolf protocol with Callum, asking permission to see Chase again. He lets her, but only after she follows some rather hard conditions: doubling her training, opening up her mind to the pack, staying away from future alpha meetings, running with the wolves at full moon, and submitting to the dominance of all the wolves protecting her at her next meeting with Chase. Bryn gives in and does all these things, even though some of the conditions really, really kill her. She has worked so hard her whole life to keep whatever small things she can to herself, and this breaks up everything she has worked so hard to do.
Though to her, that connection felt with Chase is worth all that. She does everything right, despite everyone around her who loves her, telling her they wish she would leave it all alone. And then something happens: she learns that Chase was bitten. He was turned into a wolf, something she was told was impossible. She soon learns that he was turned by the same wolf that killed her parents and almost her. And that is when things really pick up. Bryn gets betrayed by Callum, almost beaten to death by her own pack, and she runs away with Ali. She learns about her past. She learns about her strength. And she falls in love. Between all the weapons scenes, the missing children, the pack politics, and the love story this book is jam-packed with awesome.
Two things though: 1) the beginning was a little too slow for my taste. There was a lot of wolf politics repetition, and I kind of hoped the author would shut up at times about rules because she made me feel like a child. I don’t need to be told the pack rules over and over again. Once is enough. And the action really became amazing about half way through. I think the book could have started later, right in the action, and the backstory would have made itself known just fine. That’s just my opinion. And 2) the love story kind of bothered me.
It was kind of that instant soul mate Bella/Edward deal again. However, what made it interesting was Bryn’s lack of want of a relationship with anyone, and her noticing that they barely knew each other. She kept saying things like, “I can count on my hand the times we’ve even been face to face,” and even doubting her feelings. And this helped. Her doubting such a powerful romantic connection did make it a tad bit more believable. But still, I wanted to see them more together, really see what they talked about and how they interacted before I did come up with a final decision about the whole thing. But, book one was definitely more about the plot and less about the romance, which I generally tend to like best. Hopefully, I can get a better feel for the love-birds in book 2. Also, she had barely met the guy before deciding to give up everything for him, for even just the ability to hear his story. And I wasn’t necessarily buying that.
Any way, the wolf politics were fascinating! The constant threat for Bryn’s life can keep any reader interested. I loved Bryn’s few friends. I loved the story about the crazy, rabid wolf who abducted children. There were some dark themes here about children, and particularly about women and what the lack of them being born in packs meant for the few that were around. There was an undercurrent of other supernatural things like the ability to predict the future, and a sort of magical ability certain characters had to survive.
Overall, I loved this book. I give it a 9/10. Instead of waiting for my hold at the library, I just (like a few minutes ago) bought the sequel for my Kindle. I plan on spending the rest of my Sunday afternoon outside at the lake, reading!

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