Monday, December 20, 2010

Lazy Book Club: Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

**SPOILER ALERT** This post will have spoilers, as we are discussing the book!

Right, so we said around the 15th and here it is the 20th. But, it's finally time to discuss Nightshade by Andrea Cremer!!

I'd like to start with something that was brought up in the early comments: Calla's attraction to both Ren and Shay. I thought it was interesting that you all keyed in on this, and I did notice it as well. Ren just had to get close enough to breathe on her and Calla was a puddle on the floor. While reading, I attributed this to the fact that Calla is a wolf. Her basic nature is animal, and that is what is responding to Ren. Especially given that Ren is an alpha, and that they are betrothed. Her human nature does not really factor into the passion, but her animal nature does. At least, that is how I read it.

As for Shay... I'm still not so sure about him. While I was reading, I was thinking that he was obviously tied to the Guardians and Keepers somehow, and maybe Calla's instincts were responding to that as well? But Picksee brought up the idea of him being a Shiny New Boy - something different, and forbidden, which of course makes him more attractive.

I agree that I cut her a lot of slack in that department as well, mostly because she was responding to something as basic as lust on that animal level. I also thought that her relationship with Ren was probably more complex than what we saw. They grew up together, after all, and have been leading up to this. He's supposedly the hottest guy around (hello, Alpha who was inspired by BinBons) so of course she's going to find him attractive. Whereas some of our readers had issue with her drooling over two guys, it didn't bother me that way. I assumed that her animal side was drawn to Ren and her human side was drawn to Shay, and if both of them want to make out with her, what of it? Good for her. *winks*

One thing I really loved was the whole storyline of the witches war and the mythology of the Keepers and the Guardians. It was so well done and very believable. It also kept me interested in the story as a whole - this wasn't just another werewolf story. And the betrothal! I loved that aspect. I think it was shocking how okay everyone was with it. Commenter geemoney02 mentioned that it was strange how quickly Calla fell for Shay, but I was having more trouble with the whole idea of Calla being forced into a marriage. The Keepers were forcing the situation, but everyone just accepted it as completely normal. I found that so interesting.

I loved how comfortable Calla was with all of the physical violence going on around her. Picksee mentioned this in her comment about Calla in the beginning of the book, "She was kind of edgy, funny, and dangerous-she dispatched a Searcher like it was nothing. AWESOME. And another character makes a big deal out of it being her first kill and she's all 'whatevs, it's what I do.'" I think this is another instance where Andrea Cremer used Calla's actions to draw attention to the struggle between her human side and her wolf side. Her wolf side is all honor and instinct and quick reactions. Honestly, I didn't like the wolf "mentality" but I completely understood it, which means Cremer did her job.

I agree, and I think that the wolf nature vs. human nature is central to the novel as a whole. It was something that came up repeatedly as I read: Calla's desire to do what she should do, as pack leader, and her desire to follow her own heart. I think it will be interesting to see if Andrea Cremer continues to explore this in Wolfsbane.

Speaking of Wolfsbane, I wanted to touch on the ending-that-wasn't-an-ending to Nightshade. When I finished this book I wanted to throw it against the wall, not because I didn't enjoy it but because it didn't feel FINISHED. I can appreciate a cliffhanger, but I didn't feel like a single story arc had been completed. When I read a book I don't want to walk away feeling like only half of it was published. Fortunately Stacie linked me to the first chapter of Wolfsbane, which should have been the ending of Nightshade in my opinion. If you haven't done it already, go online and read the first chapter. I think it'll help with abrupt ending jitters that some of you might be feeling.

Yes! Thankfully, I was reading on my ereader, so the link was right there at the end and I was able to just click and continue reading. If you haven't read it, definitely do so now!

Okay, I think we've got a good discussion started, so please feel free to keep it up in the comments! We'll be reading your comments and adding our own thoughts too!

Link to the first chapter of Wolfsbane:



  1. I really liked the book but it botherd me that Calla was so turned on by both of them in a matter of minutes!! She could be with one and then immediately with the other one and both would turn her on. ugh. Also it seemed her relationship with Shay was too quick and not enough depth. I'm team Ren any day.

  2. I really liked the book. A lot. I was really interested in the folklore involving the wolves and everything. Calla kinda irritated me. She seriously 'loved' Shay that quickly? I always root for the guy that held the girls attention first (Edward, Gale--until the end of Mockingjay--,Dimitri) and in this case: Ren. I LOVE Ren. A lot. I really hated that Calla was so involved with both. Ren seriously liked her and she was trying to get used to the idea that she really liked him too, and then BAM! Shay. I found him completely uninteresting, he was actually a little pushy. But other than my dislike for Shay, the book was great. I loved Calla's brother's relationship. And I also LOVE the cover. It was like the #2 reason I bought it--#1 being the great reviews. Anyway...that's that. I'll definitely be reading the sequel--though the cover's not as pretty. Okay, I'm done.

  3. My favourite part of the book was definitley Calla's description of being a wolf. It seemed to be the part that rang true the most. What really bugged me was how Calla's character was so...everywhere all at once. She keeps repeating to herself "I'm the Alpha, I'm in charge, I'm powerful, I'm strong, etc." but then at the drop of a hat it shifts and she's this girl crying in the woods because of Shay. I was expecting something a little more consistent from her - something more consistently *darker* considering the descrption of her on the author's blog is that she'd rather be ripping out some throats any day. In agreement with the other comments so far, I was a little irritated at how quickly she fell for Shay too. A few pages in and she's utterly devoted. I did, however, like how we were introduced to Calla in the middle of something. It wasn't the normal "so-and-so was sitting in class and..." introduction. Overall, I was expecting something a little different, but I'm still going to read the second book.

  4. I'm pleased for the "around" part of this month-I'm almost done, but have obviously missed the 15th-d'oh!

    But, so far, I do really like it. I usually do not care for Werewolves or their tales (no pun intended...or maybe intended, I'll think about it :)) but this book has made me realize WHY I don't usually-I couldn't really put a finger on it before. BUT, because this book has illuminated it for me-I'm actually really enjying this book so far--I love that this isn't a typical wolf pack-but there's more to it (ie Keepers and the like)...

    More soon when I finally finish!

  5. After getting through the book I'm about 50/50 on really liking it and not. I particularly like that the story revolves around an Alpha female. She runs her pack, she's respected, & she's destined for greatness. But, I agree w/ the comment that Calla she bends too easily to both boys -even when it comes to things that are burned into her as being forbidden by penalty of death. It's funny that someone found Shay kind of pushy-and I agree-he wanted to her to do all of these things that were dangerous for her. But I couldn't get over how pushy sexually Ren was-I was like dude, keep it in your pants and quit grabbing at her like she is your own personal piece! Especially since he understood the (totally obnoxiously misogynistic) purity rules. And his "love" for her seemed kind of tacked on...argh, I'm so horny and enraged with jealousy, yet it's because I’m insecure and in love!" Really? You do? Really? Or is it that she's a challenge that you know you're going to win because it's been decided? BUT then with Shay, he was able to push Calla to break every rule. I understood the saving of his life. But, beyond that-I wasn't sure why she'd read a book that was forbidden to the point that she hissed at it at first. But, okay, let's go to the library and read it-what?! And go into the cave THAT THEIR ENTIRE PURPOSE REVOLVES AROUND -What?! And then to TAKE the item that they're all sworn to protect in order to protect the humans, just like that? WHAT?! It was too much. I can understand her sudden infatuation with Shay-he's new, he's somewhat charming and smart and doesn't necessarily try to maul her at every turn. BUT, I do see that she was attracted to Ren physically too. She planned for that to be her fate-so she might as well enjoy it. Why she was so ready to turn her back on this fate so readily seemed weird, but, I get it. I am like SO OVER love triangles, but I agree with Stacie's original review that it was done well here. The betrothed vs. shiny object. But, I found the love story portion BORING. I was captivated by the mythology and where the guardians fit in-and the magic of it all. But, once the action faded, so did my attention. And, while her relationship with Shay was tied in to them learning the history of the witches war and whatnot-we'd take 2 steps forward of interesting and 5 steps back of "hehe kiss me, don't kiss me, touch my hand, no!” Gah!
    I ultimately didn't like either of them. I'm just "Team Calla needs to just take her pack and get the deuce out of town." Calla was tricky for me though-in the first half of the book-I was ON BOARD with her. She was kind of edgy, funny, and dangerous-she dispatched a Searcher like it was nothing. AWESOME. And another character makes a big deal out of it being her first kill and she's all "whatevs, it's what I do." But then all the sudden she's all, hehe, kiss me! ooh, no, don't kiss me! But then do kiss me, hehe!" And she did cry a lot-which she admits is confusing for her. Fine, but get it together Alpha!
    Back to the other stuff-the mythology and magic and witches history-fascinating! I typically do not care for werewolf stories because they're steeped in the "politics" of alphas etc-where the "animal" leads everything. But here, while they have alphas, their charge is to be loyal to their Keepers, which is an interesting take. And the relationship between the guardians and the Keepers seemed just right –there is great fear and respect of their Keepers, yet a deep loyalty. I was frustrated with the cliffhanger ending b/c I felt cheated not getting more about the history and the Searchers before starting a new book. But, I guess that's good strategy b/c now I feel like I have to read Wolfsbane :)
    So, you can see, I was torn. The love story was a snore and made Calla into in a teary ding dong, but the action surrounding it was really interesting.

  6. Ooh, and this wouldn't fit, but one final comment/request to YA writers-Please please PLEASE stop making strong/main character females hate being feminine (yet always look like beauty queens the minute SOMEONE else dresses them). And, it doesn't have to preppy/super trendy girly-but being feminine/girly or knowing how to be is not weakness or being less. Too many female characters hate being girly and have "annoying friends" who force them to be girly-oh no! Not that! I did appreciate her style early on and that she didn't like dressing as her mom wanted-in skirts and the like-that's normal. But, the hating getting fitted for a dress, etc and the "girl stuff" was insulting. Liking things that are identified as girly is not a bad thing.

  7. Picksee - I love that about the Girly. I think that is one reason I liked Paranormalcy, even though the MC was over-the-top Girly. But, it was fun to see a YA MC who wasn't afraid to wear pink and be pretty. Good point!

  8. Good point about her lust being her "animal" side and her crush/love being her "human" side. That is something I never even considered-and that makes me even more comfortable w/ her being all hot for Ren and Shay. I was already comfortable with it, but this idea explains it better-especially since she isn't really human, not completely. And most animals, including wolves are not monogamous. There's an alpha and all the lucky ladies get to be his. So, that adds an interesting element-while her animal side wants to be with the Alpha, her human side disagrees.

    Anyway-babble babble babble :) I hope you all have a fabulous Christmas and New Year's!!!


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