Back when I was on bed rest with darling daughter number two, I read Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. I’ve enjoyed all of JLB’s books thus far, but I thought this one was particularly good. It had her verve and style, but it was more action packed, both physically and emotionally. It resonated better than some of her other Y/A novels. I think part of that is the fact that she’s studied animal pack behavior as part of her academic work, so she was able to apply real-world knowledge to the structure of her werewolf pack.
Raised by Wolves is an appropriate title for this series. Bryn, the main character, lost her parents to a rabid werewolf attack, and is adopted and raised as the one of the few humans and one of the few females in the biggest werewolf pack in North America. Bryn struggles, being neither supernatural enough to fully belong to the werewolf pack nor normal enough to fit in with the regular humans. Her best friends are the only female werewolf of her generation and the pack’s first metrosexual teen male werewolf. And then she meet’s Chase (a boy who was bitten), and her world is turned upside down. But not because of romance (a la Twilight), though there is romance, but because of what Chase represents in regards to Bryn’s life in the pack and her beliefs about everything that happened before. When her whole life explodes, Bryn has to pick up the pieces, avenge her parents, and embrace the scrappy/fighter side of herself like she never has before, without getting anyone killed doing it (especially herself)!
I was pleasantly surprised last weekend to discover that RbW is a series, and the second book, Trial by Fire, came out this summer. I won’t say too much about the plot of this one, because if you haven’t read RbW already, knowing even the nutshell plot of TbF would spoil the ending for you. I will just say that TbF was even more action packed than its predecessor, and it gives us even an even more comprehensive look at what it takes to be an alpha and what pack and family really mean. Anyone who thinks that family is what you make it, not necessarily who you happen to be related to, would find a kinship in this series.
I really don’t know why the RbW series hasn’t taken off as a best seller. It’s well written, the characters are fleshed out (even the supporting cast — and paperdoll supporting cast is one of my biggest pet peeves in a novel), the main character is a girl is someone with agency (unlike Bella Swan), and there are layers upon layers of plot/intrigue that our cast has to get through to solve the mysteries in the end.
My only complaint with the series is that there is a big info dump in the first scene of RbW. That could have been smoothed out and the information brought to us later when needed. The fact that it’s in the first chapter might make someone not already sold on the author stop reading. However, once you get past that, you’re swept into a unique and interesting universe that is worth visiting and spending a little time in, and then, later, worth re-visiting.
People should get the word out there on this series. I mean, seriously, if you liked Twilight, you’d really like this. It’s so much better. I’ve done my part. Now you read it, and you start telling people. And then we can all wait for the third installment, due in June 2012