Friday, August 11, 2006

Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

Elena Michaels is your regular twenty-first-century girl: self-assured, smart and fighting fit. She also just happens to be the only female werewolf in the world.

It has some good points. When she walks down a dark alleyway, she's the scary one. But now her Pack - the one she abandoned so that she could live a normal life - are in trouble, and they need her help. Is she willing to risk her life to help the ex-lover who betrayed her by turning her into a werewolf in the first place? And, more to the point, does she have a choice?

Having not read any paranormal books before starting to read The Sookie Stackhouse books not too long ago, I now realise that they are like eating a fresh green salad - tasty, healthy and mostly satisfying, but there are actually paranormal books out there that are like huge T-bone steaks - something you can really get your teeth into and rip to shreds with your razor sharp teeth. And yes, there is definitely a place for both types of meal!

Bitten is definitely steak - there's blood and gore, complex plot lines and relationships and ultimately takes a little while to digest.

Elena has been trying to live her life as a normal human. She lives with her boyfriend Philip, who has NO idea that she is actually a werewolf. In order to meet the demands of her nature, she sneaks about at night, taking long runs, not realising how much she misses true nature and hunting.

When the pack that she left behind summons her for assistance, she knows that it must be for a good reason, so she returns to Stonehaven, and there has to deal with her ex, Clay...the man who turned her, and with whom she has a very complicated relationship. When other pack members start turning up dead, the Pack realises that they are in for the fight of their lives and that they must work together in order to survive.

I was kind of torn at times about whether I was enjoying this book or not. I really liked the time that the author took to develop her world - explaining the hierachy and the history of the pack, and why the mutts who appear to be attacking the Pack would be doing so. Having said that though, there were times particularly in the first 150 pages or so where I was getting a little frustrated with the length of time that was spent describing the Change that Elena went through each time that she transformed from human to werewolf. I thought that the scenes that were written from a werewolf point of view were very well written, although I have to admit that I did cringe over the ease and lack of guilt that there was relating to the killing of humans. I thought it was very interesting that the author chose to bring new blood into the werewolf strain by turning human killers into werewolves - certainly made it easy to dislike the mutts (werewolves who are not part of the Pack). Without those new werewolves I have to admit that I did feel a little sorry at first for the mutts because the Pack is all controlling and the other werewolves who are not Pack have to make do as best they could.

What else....I really liked Elena as a heroine. She was smart and strong, yet fragile and emotionally exposed, particularly when it came to Clay and also as she tried to figure out whether or not she could truly live in the human world and keep her true nature hidden. In the early stages of the book I was a bit worried that with Elena being the only female werewolf that we would have a situation where she was actually going to be having sex with the other wolves as well, but it seems as though there was just a bit of rough housing with some of the other younger werewolves. I was happy with that because I did like Elena and Clay together - their relationship seemed like the ultimate in animal attraction, and I was sure that Clay did really love her, and yet I don't think that I ever really got to understand Clay. His background was explained, his connection and his role within the Pack was clear, and yet I don't think that I understood why he decided to turn Elena into a werewolf, with all that meant. There was some explanation, but I guess it just wasn't enough for me.

This book took a while to get going for me, but once it did, I was completely drawn into the world of Stonehaven and the werewolves, so much so I nearly missed my train stop, and was extremely disappointed when I had to put it down with only 30 pages to go once I did make it in to work!

With Stolen on the request list at the library, I will definitely be reading more of the Otherworld series by this author.

Rating 4/5

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  1. I love Kelley Armstrong. I loved Bitten and Stolen too.

    Kelley Armstrong has some free novellas available on her site. One of them is a prequel to Bitten which shows how Clay and Elena met. You should definitely give it a read. I enjoyed it a lot. :)

  2. I have to admit that I did cringe over the ease and lack of guilt that there was relating to the killing of humans.

    Me, too. I understand that they didn't kill for pleasure, or anything, just when someone was a threat to them, but it disturbed me that sometimes this meant that they killed innocent people. Like that lab technician, for instance. All the guy did was notice that something was weird in a certain sample and that got him killed. I guess I could have accepted it more easily if they had felt some remorse about it afterwards, but they didn't, at all!

    And I second dance chica's rec, go read the short stories in Armstrong's website (under "online fiction" on the sidebar... go read the one called Beginnings). That one's narrated all from Clay's POV, so it will help understand Clay better.

  3. I like your description of this book as a T-bone steak! Very apt. ;)

    I love these books, though I understand your squeamishness over the killing. There's more gore than I usually like, but her explanation of them being inherently non-human is believable--that they have a very different understanding of the meaning of death than we do.

    And I'll third Chica and Rosario's recs for the online story. It's really good.

  4. I need to get around to this book one of these days...

  5. I loved Bitten and Stolen. Wasn't too worried about the killing humans bit-maybe I've read too many werewolves? LOL

    Those online novellas are great-but I haven't been too interested in the latest one. I guess because I stopped this series after Stolen. I have Industrial Magic in my TBR-but it's not about Elena, so I find it hard to want to read it.

  6. man this sounds up my alley but why did it have to be werewolves?!?! :-(

  7. Not a werewolves fan Mailyn?

  8. Ames - I'm the same way about the killing. It didn't really bother me. I think because 1) I read quite a bit of gore and 2) It wasn't that they were cold blooded killers, they did it out of practicality--to protect themselves and I know this probably sounds horrible, but some of the scenes were funny w/ all the sarcastic humor and stuff.

    Mailyn - I, too, was reluctant to read this. You know I'm a vamp girl but this is the book that made me like werewolves too. It's good! Really. ;)

  9. I read this book AFTER I had read Dime Store Magic and Industrial Magic, and Elena and Clay are both in both of those. I didn't care much for this book but I loved the other 2 I had read.

    I think I was dissappointed because the central characters from DSM and IM weren't in this one and after reading those I had a bit more info on the others. I still want to read Stolen since I think it may explain a few questions I do have. Definitely read more of this series though.



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