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Nightshade (Nightshade Series #1)

Nightshade (Nightshade Series #1) - Check out this review on Smash Attack Reads! http://smashattackreads.blogspot.com/2010/09/arc-review-nightshade-by-andrea-cremer.htmlCalla Tor is young woman who respects tradition and questions nothing. Just shy of 18, she is an alpha wolf of the Nightshade pack. Her purpose, and why she was even conceived, was to marry the alpha male of the Bane pack and form a new pack. Pack of what, you ask? Well, Guardians, of course! Yes, Guardians do change into wolf form, but I wouldn’t call them weres. No, they are something much more. Created with magic, Guardians are human and wolf at the same time, shifting from one form to the other with the ease of a blink. According to Calla, they are always both forms, only choosing which to use and allow others to see. Sounds like magic to me!Guardians are the ancient protectors of the Keepers, a magical, mysterious bunch, and frankly, a group that puts a bad taste in my mouth *coughEfronandLukecough*. As you would expect, Guardians are bound to non-negotiable rules set forth by the Keepers, and these rules are not to be questioned. However, the idiom curiosity killed the cat must apply to canines, as well, because Calla find herself betraying the very customs that rule her existence. Of course, she starts off her treachery by saving a human boy from a grizzly bear and thus, exposing her true self…and this is only the first chapter! The story only intensifies from there on out, and Calla find herself questioning her reality to the very core.The best part of this book, for me, where the characters. Cremer’s characterization is very impressive. I am very much attached to these characters and look forward to their exciting and treacherous futures. Thank the heavens this is a series! Ok, let’s start with the love triangle, shall we? Firstly, there’s Calla, who I find very noble and courageous. I was very impressed by the restraint of this young lady, and found her respect for tradition and culture refreshing. Then we have Ren, the young Alpha of the Bane pack, and Calla’s promised mate. Ren is an interesting character, leaving the reader wanting to wring his neck one moment, jump his bones the next, and finally, hug him until hurts. He is a complex guy who should not be taken at face value. Oh, and his nickname for Calla is Lily, and that alone is enough to make me swoon. And finally, there’s Shay, the human lad who Calla saves from a gory death. Shay waltzes into Calla’s life like a hurricane, uprooting everything she’s ever known. And, in the process, he challenges her to leave all the rules behind and think for herself. I adore Shay’s quirky personality and determination to free Calla of her chains.The secondary characters are just as awesome. Bryn, Calla’s Beta, is one awesome sidekick. She is feisty and loyal, and is always able to say the right thing at the right time. Mason, another Nightshade, is admirable in the strength he possess for being different. And finally, Ansel, Calla’s younger brother, stole the show! I am so over-the-top adoring this kid! He is the epitome of the perfect younger brother; the one who lightly teases you, really listens to you, whole heartedly respects you and loves you unconditionally. His personality had me smiling every time he made an appearance. ADORE.Another notable piece of this book is Cremer’s ability to write the most intense sexual tension I’ve come across! This is Young Adult, so there are no J.R. Ward or Gena Showalter smack-your-ass sex scenes. But damn – there didn’t need to be! I was panting along with Calla through her experiences with Ren and Shay. Fantastic writing!As a whole, this book really touches on the concept of Freedom and how very precious it is. Calla’s world is overflowing with rules and mysteries, and to question or challenge these things equals a quick death. However, Calla eventually takes a stand for what she truly believes, regardless of the consequence. It is very similar to our need to stand up to the injustices of our own world, and how so many of us just let things be how they may, and never challenge anything we may feel is unfair / unequal…One thing I will criticize about this story was my ability to guess what was going to happen. I am not good at this type of thing, in general, so the predictability must be up there. However, it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story. In fact, I can’t express how much I enjoyed this book. Seriously. AND, if you can’t get enough of the Nightshade world, head on over to Shay’s blog! He posts videos and the like which correspond with his role in the books. So rad, me thinks. http://www.shaydoran.com/P.S. I couldn't’ quote from this book because it’s an ARC. *sniff*