Friday, February 24, 2012

Stray - Rachel Vincent

A little late posting this, but, well, welcome to the life of a college kid and all that.

So I've actually had the second and third books in this series for about two years, but could never find the first. I finally managed it at the used book store the other day, because used book stores are amazing.

Stray is the story of Faythe Sanders, the only daughter of the South Central werecat pride's Alpha. As the only tabby, or female werecat, in her family, it's her job to one day get married to the future Alpha of the pack, then give birth to as many children as it takes to have a female. Because werecat's rarely have female children, a daughter is rare. A pride without a tabby will be destroyed by time, so they are prized and guarded for what they are.
Faythe was meant to get married and start popping out kids. Instead she abandoned her fiancee before the wedding, then ran off to college in a fight for her independence. But after a tabby vanishes, and Faythe is attacked on campus, her father pulls her back home to protect her. But Faythe has spent years clawing her way out of her pride, and she isn't willing to give up so easily, especially when it means being under the thumb of the man she left at the altar.

Let me start by saying that I kind of loved this book. Don't get me wrong; it has its problems. Boy, does this book have its problems. But they kind of don't matter to me, because I loved the package deal.

First off, the world building was fascinating for me. I loved the Pride, I loved the werecat hierarchy, and I just flat out loved the werecats...although I'll concede that werecats sounds kind of silly. The werecat thing itself kind of makes me love this book, because I adore shifters of all kind, and I particularly love the more unusual ones...or, hell, any kind that isn't a wolf or a fox, to be honest. The cats were kind of badass, all fangs and claws and black velvety awesomeness. I like the fact that, unlike in a lot of movies, the shift between animal and human wasn't some magically instantaneous and painless thing. I mean, I know that, since shifting is impossible to begin with, I probably shouldn't nitpick, but the idea of someone being able to completely change their body structure in a sudden painless instant is iffy to me. Seems a little too perfect.

Speaking of shifting, random note: I loved the fact that some of the characters in the book specifically laugh at the media portrayal of shifting. At one point several of them get to together for a movie night of shifter movies specifically for that reason. That's kind of awesome.

As far as characters go...well, this is a little harder for me, because at this point I've read more than the first book, and I want to comment on their characters throughout, but I'm trying to limit myself to what you see in the first book only.

Based on the first book, my favorite character was probably Marc. I mean...the guy gets abandoned by the girl he's supposed to marry, but still loves her and is willing to put up with her shit so that he can KEEP loving her. I don't know, the inner romantic in me kind of wants to hug this guy and not let him go. Like, ever.

Least favorite character was...hmm. Probably Faythe herself, if I'm honest. Don't get me wrong, I love this book. But the main character kind of pissed me off a few times. She gets better in the later books, that's for DAMN sure, but in this first book, Faythe is such a self absorbed twat. As tabbies are being kidnapped, including her 17 year old cousin, and one tabby is actually killed and the body left to be found...Faythe is too busy bitching about how independent she is. She's in huge danger, is actually attacked by a stray in the beginning of the book, has another tabby die, but who cares about that? Fuck that. Independence is more important, and Faythe needs to get back to college to do school things and read books. She laughs in the face of kidnapping, rape, and murder, apparently.

I mean, Faythe isn't a complete twat, I guess, as much as she pissed me off. Her craving for independence is a valid one, which is made abundantly clear in later books, and when she's actually put on the spot, she delivers. But that being said, the sheer level of self-absorbed bullshit she sprouts at the beginning of this book pissed me off.

Thankfully, this book gets better the farther you read. Faythe's dad is a badass, her mom is...a 50's house wife, apparently, her ex-Marc is a hybred badass/sweetheart, and the random guys on her ranch are all individually awesome.

And the story...I wish I could explain how amazing this story gets the further you read, but if I did, I would spoil everything. Suffice to say it gets badass and I completely loved it, at least after the first half or so of the book.

I would recommend Stray for fans of paranormal romance, because there is definitely a heap of that, although that isn't ALL the book is. I would recommend it to fans of shifters of all kinds,and I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a good paranormal series, and is willing to read through a bit of a slow start to get there. Oh! And if you love the general writing style of a YA book, but want something a little more mature, Stray is kind of perfect.

So if you're a fan of were-anythings, romance, or paranormal awesomeness, pick up Stray soon and see if you get as obsessed with Rachel Vincent's Shifter series as I did.

And keep an eye out for a Free Friday post coming up soon, as well as a video review of the Shifter's series as a whole sometime next week!

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