Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Adopted by the Alpha of a werewolf pack after a rogue wolf brutally killed her parents right before her eyes, fifteen-year-old Bryn knows only pack life, and the rigid social hierarchy that controls it. That doesn't mean that she's averse to breaking a rule or two.

But when her curiosity gets the better of her and she discovers Chase, a new teen locked in a cage in her guardian's basement, and witnesses him turn into a wolf before her eyes, the horrific memories of her parents' murders return. Bryn becomes obsessed with getting her questions answered, and Chase is the only one who can provide the information she needs. But in her drive to find the truth, will Bryn push too far beyond the constraints of the pack, forcing her to leave behind her friends, her family, and the identity that she's shaped?

Raised by Wolves is by far one of the the best werewolf novels I've read out there. Barnes takes the meaning 'werewolf' to a whole new level, melding common mythology and ingenious, believable new ideas into a seamless narrative that made me laugh and exclaim in the oddest of places. The wolves aren't sugarcoated either-- I found their animalistic, dominant natures to be totally realistic, much closer to their true wolf selves than human. I really liked the underlying message of being your own person, not letting others control you, yet still being part of something larger than yourself; it gave the book a deeper, more mature feel. The overall writing style was quite easy to read and very descriptive, allowing the reader to really get a sense of the characters and community in the story, and the twist at the end will keep you wide-eyed and ready for the next installment.

I loved all the characters in this book. Their personalities were written so perfectly: Bryn especially made me grin with her shrewd, sarcastic observations, lightening up the most dire of situations. Even the more minor characters, like Lake (Bryn's reckless, faithful friend) were bursting with individuality. Devon loved Broadway, Lake named her gun Matilda, ecetera. You can really relate with all of them, which I think is important in a book. Rebellious Bryn learns a lot from when we first meet her in the beginning, to the last scene in the end. Her identity is called into question, and she realizes she is strong enough to break away from the restrictive pack bonds that she is constantly fighting against. Her feelings of Callum's betrayal are very easy to relate to, as he is more of a father figure to her than anyone else. The only problem I had with the character relationships was between Bryn and Chase. Their sudden connection seemed a little forced, and although Barnes gives us plausible reason for this, I still felt Chase should have been more developed before he and Bryn were suddenly thrust into their intricate 'bond'. Although I have to admit, I was pleased Bryn didn't turn into one of those dependant, washed-out girls that rely completely on male companionship throughout the story-- the author manages to throw the romantic element into the story and still keep Bryn's snappy personality in there too. She was a breath of fresh air.

My Favorite Quote: "Lake breathed out a happy sigh as she approached the row filled with guns. "Matilda was my first, but ladies, you know how to make a girl want to stray." (I love Lake!)

About the Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes (who mostly goes by Jen) was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She has been, in turn, a competitive cheerleader, a volleyball player, a dancer, a debutante, a primate cognition researcher, a teen model, a comic book geek, and a lemur aficionado. She's been writing for as long as she can remember, finished her first full book (which she now refers to as a "practice book" and which none of you will ever see) when she was still in high school, and then wrote Golden the summer after her freshman year in college, when she was nineteen. Jen graduated high school in 2002, and from Yale University with a degree in cognitive science (the study of the brain and thought) in May of 2006. She spent the 2006-2007 school year abroad, doing autism research at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. (from Goodreads)

Upcoming Book: Trial by Fire, sequel to Raised by Wolves, coming June 14, 2011! So excited!! 

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