Saturday, 9 October 2010
Review: Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Released: October 2010
Grade rating: B+
Pack life is about order, but Bryn is about to push all the limits, with hair-raising results. At the age of four, Bryn watched a rabid werewolf brutally murder her parents. Alone in the world, she was rescued and taken in by Callum, the alpha of his pack. Now fifteen, Bryn's been as a human among werewolves, adhering to pack rule. Little fazes her. But the pack's been keeping a secret, and when Bryn goes exploring against Callum's orders, she finds Chase, a newly turned teen Were locked in a cage. Terrifying memories of the attack on her parents come flooding back. Bryn needs answers, and she needs Chase to get them. Suddenly, all allegiances to the pack no longer matter. It's Bryn and Chase against the werewolf world, whatever the consequences.
I'll admit I put off reading Raised by Wolves for quite a while, due to the fact that I don't have a particularly good track record with werewolf books. Maybe it's because I'm a vampire girl, who knows. Anyway, I *was* looking forward to reading this, but I was prepared to hate it. Instead I ended up quite addicted to the story, and finished it during one of my late-night reading sessions. It must have been pretty good to keep me awake half the night, so well done Jennifer Lynn Barnes, and thanks for restoring my faith in wolf books!
What I liked most about Raised by Wolves was the different set up. Instead of being a wolf herself, Bryn was raised by a pack, so she's a little unusual and therefore very interesting. She has certain quirks and talents that come from living with a large number of supernatural shapeshifters, like a greater physical power and the ability to hold her own in a group of feral men. Bryn also reminded me of my idol: Miss Buffy Summers. Her personality and sharp tongue are things I think Joss Whedon would be proud of; after all, he's a big fan of girl power and strong female characters.
The one part of Raised by Wolves that didn't quite convince me was the romantic element, between Bryn and newly turned wolf Chase. I know they're supposed to have an unusual connection, and they do, but for me it was never on the romantic side. I didn't get that spark between them, and I thought they had very little chemistry together - they seemed better as friends and allies. Saying that, romance isn't a huge part of Raised by Wolves, which I liked. Rather than capitalise on the popularity of epic star-crossed love, Barnes instead chose to focus on family dynamics and what happens when a spanner gets thrown into the works. Chase is the important catalyst for a lot of occurrences that take place in Raised by Wolves but, as a romantic interest for Bryn, I didn't think he worked as well as he perhaps should have.
As events unfold in Raised by Wolves, Barnes delves further into pack life, and fleshes out the characters really well. Callum, the alpha of the pack, is an alluring guy, and he quickly turned out to be one of my favourites. As Bryn finds out more about herself, he tries to guide her as best he can, and is definitely the father figure of the story. The relationship between each member of the pack is complicated and occasionally hostile, but still they remain as one family and a tight unit. Although they aren't all blood relations, they are a family in the truest sense of the word.
This book surprised me. It exceeded all my (fairly low) expectations, and has made me think that, yes, maybe I *do* like werewolves after all. Obviously I just hadn't found the right book, but I think I have now. These hairy creatures will never replace vampires for me, but maybe they'll be a close runner-up. I'm really looking forward to next year's sequel, Trial by Fire, which I'm hoping will be just as addictive as Raised by Wolves. Until then, no howling at the moon!