[openbook booknumber=”9780399254826″][rating:3/5]

Calla Tor has always known her destiny: After graduating from the Mountain School, she’ll be the mate of sexy alpha wolf Ren Laroche and fight with him, side by side, ruling their pack and guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. But when she violates her masters’ laws by saving a beautiful human boy out for a hike, Calla begins to question her fate, her existence, and the very essence of the world she has known. By following her heart, she might lose everything— including her own life. Is forbidden love worth the ultimate sacrifice?

This book left me feeling half and half about it. On the one hand there is this super strong heroine with this wicked awesome back story and world built around her that is fascinating to read about. On the other hand, there were some unrealistic elements and some of the character building left something to be desired. The plot was super fast paced and it was an awesome page turner, but the fast plot left out some elements that could have made this story a lot better. So, I’m torn on a lot of it.

One of his hands cupped my face and the other slid around my back. He pulled my body against his and my heart began to pound. I took advantage of my free hand and pushed at his chest.
       “I don’t think so, Lily,” he said. “If you want to get rid of me, you’ll need to do better than that.”
       I drew a sharp breath and tried to wiggle away, but he held me firmly in place, watching me struggle. He grinned as he lifted me up onto the sink.
       “What are you doing?” I started to panic. “Someone could come in!”
       “If they see us, they’ll just turn around and get out of here,” he murmured, lips touching my ear. “No one crosses me.”
       His hips pressed against my knees, opening them, pushing my skirt up my legs. I gripped his shirt, clinging to him so I wouldn’t fall into the sink. His hand pushed into my lower back. I gasped as his body fitted against mine. Heat flooded my chest, my pelvis. I thought I would drown in it.
       “We can’t—” His lips stopped my words. The kiss just made me dizzier. I dug my fingers into his shoulders.

In Nightshade we have a story of a girl named Calla who is Guardian. That means she can change into a wolf at will. She is the alpha of a pack of teen wolves and is strong, sure of herself, and rules the pack with an iron will and a don’t mess with me attitude. She has been betrothed to a boy named Ren who is the alpha of his own pack of teen wolves and they are set to be mated on their 18th birthdays, which just happens to fall on All Hallows Eve. Things get complicated when Calla saves a human boy named Shay who is hiking up on the mountain that she is patrolling, against the express wishes of the Keepers whom she guards for, and then starts to fall for his mysterious boy when he shows up at school not long after.

The plot gets interesting when it delves into the world surrounding Calla and the two boys she now loves. Who are the Keepers and why do they need Guardians? Who are the Searches and why is this boy so important to everyone involved when he is only human? Why is information restricted from the Guardians? Are they really only slaves? There is also this great fast paced plot where you are left guessing straight up until the end what is really going on and who Calla will choose to be with.

That’s where a lot of the negative comes out too. These are three of the horniest teenagers on the planet. Calla gets her horny on with both boys a lot in this book. Ren seems to push boundaries with her and pressures her a lot to show off how experienced he is. Shay gets further with Calla but at least claims to have more respect for her than that, though his actions belie his words sometimes. I got a little exasperated with Calla for going from being a strong alpha with a ton of confidence to being unable to simply make a decision and stick with it when it came to two boys. They both pushed her around (Ren sexually and physically, Shay mentally and idealogically) and they both wanted her and she just went with both of them for the longest time in the book which was frustrating to read about. I also found two incidents a little hard to believe with Calla and Shay, one was where they were laying out on a public library’s floor making out, awkward for the librarian I’m sure, and secondly when they stop to kiss and feel each other up while fleeing for their lives, which I find very hard to believe any one would do. Also, to the reviews that say this book is safe for 12 years olds because there is “just kissing”, I personally do not consider partial disrobing and getting to second (and hinting at third) base to be “just kissing”.

I liked the feminist themes and the concept of slavery and freedom in the book but I also wondered if trying so hard to be a free and sexual being with two boys at once ended up undoing a lot of what made Calla so awesome in the beginning. She had such a strong and decisive attitude in her life and a no nonsense approach to leading her pack. When things turned to matters of love and the fight with her mother over dressing proactively (the mother wants her to, she doesn’t want to) Calla loses a lot of her spirit and in the end starts having decisions taken out of her hands by the boys in her life left and right. It was a bit frustrating to read about. I liked Shay a little better because he at least tried to have respect for Calla, even though he did push her to tell him things that could get her killed and discover more things that could again get her killed. But, In the end, the one that seemed to have the least respect for her own mind on things was Calla herself and that was sad to see.

Fans of Twilight will probably enjoy this book a lot, as will fans of other YA paranormal fantasy novels. I do think that this book is best suited for 10th grade and up, personally. I am interested in seeing where this book goes next, largely thanks to the huge cliffhanger! But, I think too much of it bothered me to really enjoy it as much as others perhaps will.

I received this book for free to review.

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