I find myself unsure about how to go about writing this review. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer is a book that seems to be either a hit with those who read it or a complete failure. For me, Nightshade wasn’t as amazing as I hoped it would be.
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?
As a book about werewolves, set in a high school, and involving two rival love interests for the main protagonist, Calla, it’s impossible not to compare this book to Twilight. There are no vampires in Nightshade, but really it doesn’t seem to matter. When I started reading this book, I thought that any person who’s read Stephenie Meyers famous saga will most likely love Nightshade. Calla is an alpha who is stuck between being loyal to her pack and marrying Ren, another alpha, or changing the status quo that the Keepers have set up for her kind and running with Shay.
The whole dynamic of the pack irked me. Keepers are mages who basically lord over the werewolves. If a packs master or mistress deems it so then it is to be done. And I guess it would be different if said master or mistress were well intentioned, but for the most part they use their position badly. That’s to say that if a keeper is attracted to a were, or watcher, under their care then they have every right to act on that attraction even if the person isn’t returning their advances. Also werewolves aren’t allowed to marry who they love. They are forced to marry who the keepers deem to be an appropriate match. The watchers and fellow keepers will do nothing about it, and I found myself asking why? It didn’t make sense to me that these people would just go along with this slavery because of a few well told lies about some unknown danger. Nobody even really questions it before Shay comes along. It’s just for their own good, and that explanation is apparently good enough.
As for the relationship between Calla and Ren, I’m not sure I understood why Calla kept Ren in the running, especially when Shay came into the mix. The only thing between Ren and Calla was sexual in nature. There was nothing but lust, and when you take that away there’s nothing left but what the keepers wanted. Ren slept around with any girl that would allow it and apparently that’s okay because he’s an alpha male. Calla was nothing like the girls that Ren usually chased. She didn’t wear makeup, didn’t prance around flirting with guys, and considered herself more of a warrior. And this goes back to the keepers, because they want her and Ren to shack up, she’s willing to just go with it.
I liked Shay more than any of the other main characters. Mainly because he questioned all of this crap. He insisted that what was tradition didn’t necessarily make it right, and pushed Calla to see the truth about her pack. He also was a much more suitable match for Calla than Ren. Their personalities just meshed better, which is what made it so frustrating when Calla still kept going back to Ren.
By the end of the book I wasn’t completely sure what I thought. On the one hand, Nightshade has all the right ingredients to be a great read. However, I found that I just wasn’t a huge fan of any of the characters nor did I become engrossed in the story. If I had to recommend Nightshade by Andrea Cremer to anybodym I’ll go back and say that this book seems like it would appeal mostly to Twilight lovers.