By Amanda Carlson
Published on September 11, 2012
Published by Orbit
Published by Orbit
I wanted to love this book. Oh, boy, did I want to love this book. The only living female werewolf? Not only that, but the only one with some big powers? And a werewolf war? The concept makes it seem like it was written just for me, and the first chapter, about Jessica's sudden transformation into a werewolf, was pretty cool stuff.Born the only female in an all male race, Jessica McClain isn’t just different—she’s feared.
After living under the radar for the last twenty-six years, Jessica is thrust unexpectedly into her first change, a full ten years late. She wakes up and finds she’s in the middle of a storm. Now that she’s become the only female full-blooded werewolf in town, the supernatural world is already clamoring to take a bite out of her and her new Pack must rise up and protect her.
But not everyone is on board. The werewolf Rights of Laws is missing text and the superstitious werewolves think that Jessica means an end to their race. It doesn’t help when Jessica begins to realize she’s more. She can change partway and hold her form, and speak directly to her wolf. But the biggest complication by far is that her alpha father can't control her like he can the rest of his wolves.
When a mercenary who’s been hired by the vampires shows up to extract information about the newly turned werewolf only days after her change, they find themselves smack in the middle of a war and there's no choice but to run together. When it’s up to Jessica to negotiate her release against her father’s direct orders, she chooses to take an offer for help instead. In exchange, Jessica must now swear an oath she may end up repaying with her life.
The rest of the book? No such luck.
Jessica is one of those lead characters whose main trait is "look at how much of a surly badass I am, I am not a delicate flower at all, oh no, not me". Now, I'm okay with leading ladies who are gruff and mean and sometimes unpleasant -- it's unrealistic to expect that every main female character is all sweetness and light no matter what the scenario -- but Jessica fell into the trap of just being plain unlikeable most of the time. The plot quickly becomes predictable -- throw-away lines which could have served as nice foreshadowing for what was to come were more like anvils or two-by-fours to the head. If you couldn't predict the major plot points of this book, you weren't paying attention.
There are just so many plot holes and questions that I had after reading, and I have little faith that they'll be addressed in future books. The writing really needed to be tightened up in this story. There's a great concept floating around, and maybe with a stronger editor guiding the author, it would have come out better. But the writing overall just felt... uninspired. The dialogue and even internal narration didn't feel realistic to me. The characters felt interchangeable and everyone talked the same, except for Jessica's Latina neighbor, whose dialogue was written in such an outlandish, stereotypical manner that it was honestly sort of insulting. There was no reason for her English to be so cartoonishy bad, other than as a punch line that wasn't even funny. In general, there was no feeling or emotion behind the words, even for scenes which should have packed an emotional punch for the reader. Not even the sexy bits of the story were able to redeem it for me -- they weren't even all that sexy and felt a little tacked on.
I don't know that I could recommend spending your time with this book when there are so many other great urban fantasy stories out there with strong leading ladies. This book contains a lot of werewolf-related violence, cursing, strong sexual themes, and a brief subplot involving the attempted abduction of a teenage girl.