Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Raised By Wolves - Jennifer Lynn Barnes

One of the many books I took home with me from BEA was Trial By Fire by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, what was the second in a series I'd never read. I hadn't planned on getting it, originally, for the sheer fact that the line was horrifyingly long. However, my party eventually decided to head for it when it had gotten shorter, towards the end, and I figured I'd need to pick up yet another book when I had the time.

Raised by Wolves is the first book in that series. It's the story of Bryn, a human girl who, after a werewolf attack claimed the lives of her parents, was literally raised by wolves--or werewolves, at least. After saving her from the Rabid, the term used to describe the wolves who attacked humans, the alpha of the local pack took her in and Marked her as one of their own. Because of the mark, Bryn has the capability to do everything with the pack, from running with them when the others are changed, to connecting to the pack through the pack bond, a type of telepathic connection all members of the pack share. However, she is still very much human, and is treated as the fragile being she is. Until the day she meet's Chase, a boy in her Alpha's basement that's kept in a cage. Chase changes everything, cracking the very foundations of what she knows.

This book is definitely well thought out, I'll definitely say that. The first few chapters are pretty much a giant dump of backstory and explanation, and it all makes a lot of sense. A lot of it is really cool. That being said, a giant info dump wasn't the best way to give that information out. It was boring and slow, and while the story sped up later and got interesting, I honestly wasn't sure if I was going to bother finishing the book, at first. It just starts too slow, and it drags. I'm happy I did keep with it, because the end was neat enough to make up for it, but the beginning of this book is far from fantastic.

Characterwise, Bryn is...meh. She's a lukewarm character, I guess, if anything. Pretty much the entire book reads as her doing really stupid shit out of stubbornness and...well...stupidity. I swear, half the book happens because someone tells her no. I kind of wanted to backhand her a few times. That's not to say she's all bad, obviously. She's loyal, smart, and pretty strong. She's awesome, in a 'sue' kind of way.

I feel like I'm painting a terrible picture of this book, but it's honestly not a bad one. Raised By Wolves is actually pretty neat, it just has some flaws. It's very far from perfect, but it's not bad at all. The world building in this book is fantastic, even if it's delivered in a less than amazing way, and I really liked the fact that, in Bryn's world, werewolf packs actually act like PACKS. Not like a bunch of people who happen to be all werewolves and are kind of assholes to each other, but are actually animalistic packs: loyal to each other, but still reflecting their animal counter parts. The wolves are awesome.

The plot itself gets pretty neat, after the first half of the book. Everything comes together amazingly, and there is a perfect setup for a sequel. Even thought I wasn't amazed at this book, the ending is so perfectly set up for it that I can't NOT read the sequel, which was probably the point. The very end sections of this book were the best, which means, to me, that the second book is likely to be a few dozen times better than the first.

So while, if I had to give this book a rating, it would only score a 3/5, I'm still going to be jumping into Trial By Fire as soon as I finish this review, and I'll still recommend it to anyone who'd still be interested, knowing that the first half isn't fantastic. This book kind of feels like an RPG manual to me; although it's kind of boring, you have to learn the rules of the universe so you can get into the awesome stuff, and then it's just fantastic.

If you're into the YA wolf paranormal craze, pick this book up and you'll probably love it despite the flaws, for the sheer fact that the amazing wolf aspect of this book will absolutely seduce you. Fans of the Anita Blake series, particularly the aspects of Anita being the one human among the paranormals, will love this book as long as you weren't into Anita for the adult aspects. In fact, I'd almost say this book is the YA counterpart, or it at least has the high potential to become so, and I love it for that fact, and I hope you will too.

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