Thursday, November 4, 2010

Me on Nightshade

Title: Nightshade
Author: Andrea Cremer
Publisher: Philomel
Release Date: October 19, 2010
Pages: 454 (Hardcover)

I've been meaning to write this review for at least a week. First, I wasn't quite sure how to word it. Then I got busy with my own writing. And then I wasn't sure how to word it again.

Not surprisingly, since this is how a bunch of my ideas for my undergraduate work came out of my head, I wrote down a list of bits and points in the middle of the night.

A lot of my readings and outlines were written in the middle of the night.

A lot of my reading now is done in the middle of the night. This book was no exception.

This book is wonderful, an exciting mix of romance, rebellion, werewolves and witches. I was forever swept away by the twists and turns, the danger and the secrets, the different characters. I didn't want it to end, and when it did I wanted to scream for the next book, Wolfsbane.

On purpose, as with another recent release (Becca Fitzpatrick's Crescendo), I avoided all early reviews and spoilers, like the blog and videos centered around the character of Shay Doran put out by the publisher. That isn't to say I thought they were pointless. Once my pre-ordered copy arrived I read the blog, watched the videos, downloaded the prequel. It enhanced the book for me, introducing the book through a different viewpoint. Of course, it did make me want more of Shay. ;)

Part of my reason for loving this book is Calla. Confused as any human teenager would be, torn between two potential boyfriends as any high school girl would be. She was believable, realistic, even with her being a werewolf. Teens are often pulled in certain ways by their emotions, their hormones, their families and friends. Adding the supernatural/paranormal element only serves to make the novel more mysterious.

The mythology. The werewolves and the witches were unique in terms of their purpose, their abilities, their history. Such a relationship has been done before, like where werewolves protect vampires during the day at the peak of their vulnerability, but using witches as the dominant power was interesting. I've often enjoyed novels that include werewolf or witch/wiccan characters, such as Lili St. Crow's Strange Angels series (werewolves & vampires), Carolyn MacCullough's Once a Witch (witches), Kelley Armstrong's Otherworld books (werewolves, witches, vampires, & demons), and for the romance novel crowd, Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series (werewolves, vampires, witches, demons, valkyrie, & fae).

The romance. I liked the love triangle, even though it's become a cliché. But this wasn't a standard triangle where Calla was always drawn to both Ren and Shay. Her uneasiness to the mating with Ren was okay with me. Sure, there's the physical attraction between the two of them, but I couldn't find the emotional connection that Calla had with Shay. She's torn between them for different reasons: she wants Shay but forces beyond her control push her towards Ren.

This book is why I love YA, why I read it, why I write it, and why more people need to read it. So much has been crammed into 452 pages but it's not overwhelming. It's all connected, all related, all important to the story.

This book has so much to do with control, with adults and their control over youth, with secrets and boundaries, the difference between truth and lies/right and wrong/moral and immoral. So much about choices, about consequences and facing them when the situation turns dangerous. So much about finding your place in life, in the world, and justifying your reasons to the ones in control.

So much about defiance when you don't believe in what you've been taught anymore, about knowledge and how dangerous uncovering the truth can be.

So much about hiding who you are to protect others, about control leading to abuse, about speaking out instead of keeping silent.

So much about following your heart when it's constantly at war with your head.

During my undergraduate years, I took a children's lit class. If I was taking it now, I would write a paper on Nightshade. It's beautiful.

So, for everyone who was wondering if I was going to enjoy this book, if I thought it was going to live up to all the early buzz, I did and it does.

It so does.

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