vylit's Reviews > Bitten

Bitten by Kelley Armstrong
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Mar 22, 10

bookshelves: 2010, fiction, urban-fantasy
Read in March, 2010

** spoiler alert ** There are things I like about this book, things that I even love about it, but it ultimately wasn't satisfying for me.

I liked Elena, and some of the other characters in the book had potential, but despite the claustrophobic living situation that dominated most of the book, I felt like I didn't understand the other characters well. Partially, I feel like this was because Elena brought so many faulty assumptions into her interactions with the other characters that her observations couldn't be trusted to allow me to get to know the other characters better, but to a certain extent, I feel like the author made the other characters behave with excessive patience or love without really giving the reader enough meat to allow us to understand why they did so even if Elena didn't.

Part of what made this book work for me is that it didn't minimize the real issue of animal urges and what it meant to be a werewolf. I didn't feel like the characters were cleaned up to make them more palatable, and that did work for me. While some of the scenes were gory and unsettling, the level of violence seemed on par with what one could expect from a group of werewolves who are hunters, killers. And I liked that Elena was violent and vicious as well rather than making her (the only female) the voice of kindness and reason. Her rage and other issues were a clear result of her past and made sense within the narrative. She wasn't a mindless killer who murders without conscience or reason, but a person who would, if put in a situation where she needed to protect herself or her family, would use all means at her disposal.

Mostly, my issues with the book stemmed from the romantic relationship and the dynamics within. I do think that Elena and Clay have chemistry, and I think Armstrong showed us why the two characters were so tied to one another and built a convincing, complicated relationship. My issue, which detracted from my enjoyment of the book, was the result of a sex scene between the two, the timing of their sex scenes, and the way in which she was turned.

Elena was turned into a werewolf without her consent, and Clay did it when she loved and trusted him. The fact that he later felt bad about it seemed to be more of a function of him not liking the results (their estrangement and her anger) than any genuine sense of guilt at forcibly turning her when she should have had a choice in the manner. The fact that she is later able to accept and forgive him would be more tolerable if I felt that Clay regretted what he'd done in the first place.

And the sex scene that really disturbed me had Elena saying no while Clay continued to touch her against her wishes until, right before penetration, he asked her if she wanted it and at that point she didn't consent or reject. I found it to be very When A Woman Says No, She Doesn't Mean No, which bothered me for the rest of the book. And if the disturbing content of the sex wasn't enough, the book then went on to have the characters frolicking and having sex right after someone they were supposed to really love and cared about had died. It wasn't just sex because they were devastated, but there was laughing and sense of play that seemed emotionally false for what the characters were supposed to have just gone through. And honestly, if they could take a death like that so lightly, it doesn't reflect well on them at all.

I think there were a lot of promising aspects to the book, though, and I think without those two things in particular, I would have enjoyed it more.
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