Sunday, 15 April 2012

Review: 'Bitten' by Kelley Armstrong

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Synopsis (taken from Goodreads.com)


Elena Michaels seems like the typically strong and sexy modern woman, She lives with her architect boyfriend, writes for a popular newspaper, and works out at the gym. She's also a werewolf.

Elena has done all she can to assimilate to the human world, but the man whose bite changed her existence forever, and his legacy, continue to haunt her. Thrown into a desperate war for survival that tests her allegiance to a secret clan of werewolves, Elena must recon with who, and what, she is in this passionate, page-turning novel.



Review

This is one of those reviews that I know before I even write it will be largely redundant. If you're already an urban fantasy fan, I don't doubt that you'll be aware of, if not an outright fan of, Kelley Armstrong. She seems to have an extremely dedicated fanbase; the fact that the Women of the Otherworld series alone is soon to be up to 13 instalments is testament to that. Every time she releases a book, my Google Reader lights up with glowing reviews.

If you aren't a fan of urban fantasy but are intrigued enough to actually read this review, you could do much worse than start out with Bitten.

T
he mistake that I am increasingly encountering in this particular genre (among others) is that, even when their stories are told from a female perspective, they are controlled by male characters.  The women ostensibly make their own decisions but they make them based almost entirely on what they think will be better for the men in their lives or under some misguided notion that love means sacrificing yourself (and your dignity) utterly without any hints of reciprocation (yes, I do mean you, Luce of Fallen fame).

Thankfully, Elena is different. The reader's insight into her thoughts shows
 how close the battle is between her desire to establish a life for herself that she's comfortable with and her natural inclination towards staying with and supporting her pack.  As the name of the series suggests, the series has a stronger focus on its female protagonist for her own sake and is a great one to go for if you like your women a little more independent.

That isn't to say that it's all plain sailing. I did have some problems with how Elena shows her professed love for the man that she lives with.  I do appreciate that it's an extension of her not wholly successful resistance to her werewolf urges and her later actions  demonstrate how powerful those urges are but that doesn't mean I have to like it.  And I didn't.  It goes slightly against the strong image that she projects early on but is made up for later so don't get too militant about it if you can help it.

Ok
, so I haven't told you much about the book.  Beyond Elena, the rest of the characters are equally likeable.  Particularly Jeremy, the pack leader, who has a lovely quiet authority.  Clayton is what I think of as a more "traditional" werewolf - almost wholly given over to the wolf side of himself and utterly unashamed of his instincts.  The rest of the pack has a warm, familial and bantery atmosphere that's fun to read about.  The plot is well-paced and strikes a good balance between raw action and character development.

Th
ere are a plethora of werewolf books out there that are more contemporary than this one but  this one has the kind of werewolves I want to read about: feral, fierce and animalistic.


Overall:  One of the better brushes that I've had with urban fantasy in a while and a good start to a series.  I have no idea how much of the series focuses on these characters (because I only read the synopsis of the next one to avoid spoiling anything for myself!) but I will be reading on to find out.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Date finished:  28 February 2012
Format:  eBook
Source:  Bought
Genre:  Urban fantasy
Published: by Orbit in May 2010