Before I begin this review I need to say that I didn’t like this book. This had nothing to do with the writing (which was fabulous) and everything to do with my own sense of what should and should not be put into certain books. In this review I will explain my rating but these things may not bother you. If this is the case then do read this book as it is beautifully structured and written.
Nightshade is the name of one of the guardian packs that the book centre around. Guardians are like werewolves but differ, as they are magical creations, which exist as both forms at all times and can pick which one they are seen as. The other pack is the Bane pack. Calla is the alpha of the Nightshade pack. She is destined to mate with the Bane alpha, Ren. This pairing has been picked by the keepers, the magical beings who run the packs, to merge the separate fractions to create a new, stronger pack. However, a spanner is thrown into the works when Calla saves Shay, a human boy who the keepers seem to have a special interest in. It is forbidden to save the human and Calla risks everything to protect him and then falls completely in love with him. Soon she is questioning all she knows, defying those she is sworn to protect and threatening the safety of both packs. Will she do the right thing by her pack and mate with Ren, the Bane alpha who has sworn not to betray her, or will she abandon all she knows to run off with Shay?
This book showed so much promise. The cover is beautiful, the concept is amazing and the characters are beautifully written. My issues were as follows
1) Adult themes in YA books
There were many plot points I would class as adult themes in this book . The book tried to deal with sex, racism, homosexuality, abuse of power, sexual abuse, murder, and drugs...all in 400 pages! In my opinion there were far too many adult themes being dealt with at any one time for them to be covered well. As an adult I knew the implications and consequences of some of these things but if you bring them into a YA book you have to make sure that you deal with that as well as the subject matter. This book didn’t
2) Sexual Abuse theme
This was dealt with poorly. The keepers of the packs were sexually abusing the minors in their power. The guardians had to do whatever they were told and apparently this extended to sexual favours. We knew that the alphas didn’t like that it was happening, but that was it. At no point did we see the effects of this on the characters that it was happening to. It felt like the only reason this plot point was included was to prove that the keepers were bad. There are other ways to do this and I thought that to use this subject matter this way was completely inappropriate
3) The spineless creature that was the lead character
Calla was told what to do throughout the book. We were supposed to believe that she is an alpha yet she rolled over like a puppy for everyone in the book, even Shay at points! The love triangle she is at the centre of only serves to reinforce this, as she knows what she wants but she continually allows the two males to overturn her decisions and do whatever the hell they like. The fact that it is completely reinforced that she hasn’t even kissed a boy, due to tradition, whereas Ren has ignored the impending union to sleep with anything in a skirt shows that she is the kind of weak character I avoid in books. I didn’t like her and this does not bode well for any book!