Review: Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer

17 September, 2011 Reviews 11 comments

Review: Wolfsbane by Andrea CremerWolfsbane by Andrea Cremer
Series: Nightshade #2
Published by Philomel Books on July 26th 2011
Pages: 390
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Young Adult
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository
Goodreads
one-star

Calla Tor wakes up in the lair of the Searchers, her sworn enemy, and she's certain her days are numbered. But then the Searchers make her an offer–one that gives her the chance to destroy her former masters and save the pack–and the man–she left behind. Is Ren worth the price of her freedom? And will Shay stand by her side no matter what? Now in control of her own destiny, Calla must decide which battles are worth fighting and how many trials true love can endure and still survive.

**The second half of this review contains spoilers. So, if you haven’t read this book, read at your own risk.**

OMG, thank goodness it’s over. I think I give out 1 star reviews about the same amount as 5 stars.  I like to think of myself as a forgiving reader.  I am still able to enjoy a book that has an interesting premise even with a few flaws.  I also can usually find *something* I liked from a book that probably shouldn’t have been published.  So how did I like Wolfsbane?

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Jeez.  Where to begin?  Well, let me back track and tell you how excited I was to read this. Ya, that’s right, I was excited to read Wolfsbane.   I know some of my other Goodreads friends hated Nightshade, but I actually really enjoyed it.  Now, I’m not saying it changed my life or anything, but I found it to be engaging and fresh.  However, the same can not be said for Wolfsbane.

Let’s start with the first big fail; because I’m so disappointed in this book, I’m going into some serious detail.  Now I realize this was probably not Cremer’s call, but let’s talk covers for a minute. The original Nightshade cover was gorgeous! Then the new one came out. -_-

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Then the Wolfsbane cover came out. The first one I liked, but the second one is completely over sexualized.
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Why do here legs need to be open?  Yes, yes, I realized she is a wolf and in some sort of “crouching tiger, hidden dragon” type pose, but it’s a bit too much.  Just look at her.  She’s giving us all her “come hither” pose.

But even with my growing dislike for where the book was heading visually, I remained enthusiastic.  And right from the start I was completely let down.  Wolfsbane is entirely an info-dump about the Searchers and the Keepers.  If you are wondering, yes, it will answer all your burning questions from Nightshade, but it is horribly executed.  There is a lot of question and answer dialog going on that goes something like this:

A searcher would make a statement, and then Calla or Shay would say:

“How do you know that?”
“What’s that mean?”
“I don’t understand.”
“Tell me what’s going on.”
“Huh?”
“I’m not following.”

It got on my freakin’ nerves.  Don’t they sound like 4 year-olds asking mommy why the sky is blue? I think this was just to clue the reader in on how the Searchers operated, but it just came out half-assed and made the main characters look incredibly stupid.  Add that to the fact that Calla knew nothing about the Searchers, but she just agreed to work with them before they answered any of her questions. Let me tell you why that makes zero sense.  Calla had been locked up in chains for a week from these people and has grown up her whole life learning to kill them.  So, essentially, they unchained her and said, “Hey, sorry about that wolfie.  Sooo…I know we’ve been enemies for a while and all, but we are about to go on a mission. Come with?  We’ll explain everything later.”  And you know what she said?

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Believe me when I say, Calla was *extra* dumb in this book.

With the introduction of the Searcher’s world, we get a bunch of new characters.  Silas, a scribe, who’s lone purpose in the story is to educate the readers Calla and Shay about the history of the Searchers and Keepers, AKA info-dump extraordinaire.  Then you have Conner, Ethan, Adne, Monroe and some others that have little to no importance.  Now, don’t ask me to describe any of these characters because that’s another big fail for this book: not enough descriptions.  There are so many dialogs I barely knew what the academy looked like or the facial expressions of the characters, or just what was going on in the first place.  The scenes that were described were half heartedly as well.  I had to read several of them over because many times I wasn’t sure what had just transpired or who said what.  There was way too much telling and not enough showing.  And I’m not the only one who thought it was just way too much info-dumping and dialog going on.

“My mind was reeling from the deluge of new information.”
“We’d been talking about a fight.  Was it ever going to happen?”

Three guesses who that was…Calla.  Now when you main character starts complaining about it, that should be a huge indication that things are going south for your book.

***THERE BE SPOILERS***

But let’s move on to the plot. COMPLETE FAIL!  This was the biggest upset for me.  It is not a good thing when I know the ending from the first few chapters.  Taken from my status update, page 49: “Well it’s not exactly a surprise that Monroe would know of Ren, is it? Who knows, it’s probably his son too. Smh.” Did I call it, or did I call it?  There were soooo many hints dropped, I’m not sure this can even be considered a spoiler.  Monroe kept asking about Ren and was always showing concern.  Calla even noted there was something about it.  But you know what? Calla didn’t get it, even after Emile told Ren, “You are a fool…Just like your father.”  Yes, folks. This chick was still in the dark. It wasn’t until near the end when Conner came out and actually told her that she got it. And he only mentioned it to her because he thought she understood what Emile said.  Oh but it gets better!!  Her IQ was at a steady decline in this book.  When Ansel shows up no one seems to question why the Keepers would just dump Ansel off downtown with everything that he knows about the rest of the pack’s whereabouts.  I mean did they all just swallow a STUPID pill?! They let him go and don’t even question it.  WTF.  I think Calla might even have had a little inner dialog about her missing something (Gee, ya think?!), but she just shrugs it off like usual.  And by the time Ansel’s true intentions are ousted at the end, everyone is in shock.  She literally had a *gasp!, shock!* moment in both of these cases. And ya know, I was having a moment of my own too.

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I’m not sure why Cremer’s editor just let this slide, but this plot should have went straight back to the drawing board. When I can see straight through the plot and predict the outcome, thus killing the shock value, you’ve got a problem. Things were just painfully obvious and even when Calla questioned it, Cremer had her conveniently look the other way so her, already gaping, plot hole didn’t completely fall apart.  But, it did.  And this is where I blame the editor.  Seriously, Cremer, fire that person because they did you a HUGE disservice for this book. I tried to rationalize this a bit, “Maybe that was Cremer’s intent. Maybe she wanted the reader to know, but for the character’s to find out later. Dramatic irony anyone?” I quickly shut that idea down.  No, just no.  Not even my inner fangirl can save Cremer on this one.  If she was going for dramatic irony then things should have gradually been revealed to the reader with the movement of the plot.  Your characters shouldn’t be sitting in a freakin’ room questioning it only to say, “This doesn’t seem right and I’m sure it will bite us in the ass later but…what the hell!” And bite them it did as they walked right into an ambush.  After some people die, Calla has the nerve to obviously point out, “It had always been a trap.” OMG, could she get any dumber?! The answer is yes. Yes, she can.

Let’s talk about Shay for a bit now. What. A. Douche. There. I said it and I feel better for it every time.  There was a scene in this book where Calla and Shay are making out when Calla starts thinking about Ren and decides she is not ready to put out.  So Shay’s like, “What up Cal? You want me!” And she’s all, “I know…but…”  Then, he notices she is still wearing the ring Ren gave her. And you know what?  Shay gets angry and semi-abusive. Calla goes,

“For a moment I thought he would shift forms and bite me.”

I don’t know what I’m more offended by; Shay’s reaction to the ring or Calla’s submissive behavior. Both, definitely both.  I’m not sure what Cremer was hoping to accomplish with this scene, but I think it’s safe to call fail on this too. This was starting to get a little to Patch and Nora for my tastes and if you don’t know how I feel about Hush, Hush, here’s a clue: I hate it. I wasn’t a fan of Shay and Calla’s relationship in Nightshade to begin with, but now this?! This is NOT OK.  In no way, shape or form, is it ever OK for you to feel threatened in a relationship! YA PNR authors stop trying to convince me otherwise with your stories of love. That is not love, it’s wrong and offensive. I don’t know what was going on with him in this book, but he was not acting as the Shay we met in Nightshade. When Calla and the Searchers set off on the mission to find her pack mates on the mountain, Shay knew they would be unsuccessful, yet said nothing and let them go. He deliberately let Calla go into danger without any sort of reasonable explanation.  Best believe, the one he gave was unacceptable.

“I wanted you to be safe,” he said, his shoulders tensing. “I thought you could prove your worth to the Searchers without actually running into trouble.”

WHAT?! That makes no sense, Shay.  Sending her into high alert, enemy territory doesn’t actually scream “I love you!”  Two, count ’em, two people died during that mission!! *Headdesk**Headdesk**Headdesk*

Now, let’s talk about a few other fails. What? There’s more you ask? *Looks up at the top of the page* This is a 1 star review for a book that (at the time of writing this review) has a rating of 4.15. It is my literary obligation to fully tell all fails this book has.

Anyway, moving on to the world building.  I honestly don’t know where to begin with that hot mess.  I couldn’t even keep up because it made zero sense.  But here is my best attempt.  With the introduction of the new character, Adne, we learn that she is a Weaver.  I will spare you all the fancy talk Cremer uses and just say she can create portals.  My problem with the world building is the explanation of the Searcher’s use of magic vs. the Keepers.  Obviously, if the Searchers can just create portals out of anywhere the question would arise on why the Keepers haven’t just followed right through the portal. The explanation?

“…so the Keepers broke some big rules on the way to all that power they have…they cannot weave. The earth won’t allow it.”

How convenient.  Not only that, but it seemed to be no limits on what the Weavers could do. For example, near the end Adne wants to use Calla’s ring to find Ren. So she explains that her mystical power includes using objects to find people. Kinda like a GPS. Of course you can, Adne. Then Calla was worried about being seen on the other end of the portal, but Adne quickly brushes that off says

“A location thread weaves a window; we can’t go through it, but we can see what’s on the other side.”

I was rolling my eyes so hard at that.
Speaking of conveniences, we find out who Shay’s parents are. We learn that Shay’s father was a Keeper and his mother a human.  Now, I know what you are wondering. Does that mean Shay has been a Keeper all along?!  No kiddies, that is where the world building fails once again. Say hello to the biggest plot cop-out in the book:

“I don’t understand why he’s not a Keeper,” I said. “Doesn’t it matter who his father was?”
“It matters for the prophecy,” Silas replied. “But in terms of his essence, his being it’s the mother that matters.”
“Huh?” I frowned.
Tess smiled. “Because the power of creation rests in women.”
Silas said,” Tess is right. The mother’s essence always seems to dominate, determines the nature of the child. That’s why you only perceived him as human–in all respects he was. His father’s use of the Nether’s power didn’t pass on to him. The only sign of his mixed ancestry is the mark.”

*Sigh* Really, Cremer?  I’m sorry, I’m not buying it, especially when Silas just got finished tell the Calla and Shay that the Keepers are all humans like the Searchers.  Are you following this BS?  Now, if the Keepers had Shay for 16 years, why didn’t they just kill him if they knew who he was?  He was the almighty Scion and you had him for YEARS to yourselves.  That was never questioned nor explained and it freakin’ agitated me.

Let’s move along to a few inconsistencies. Ethan is one of the new characters in the book and he happens to hate Guardians with a fiery passion, especially Calla since she witnessed his brother’s death in Nightshade.  He pretty much tries to kill her in the beginning of the book.  But during the gang’s last mission to save Calla’s pack, he sees Sabine and suddenly he just forgets his former prejudices?

Free of the chains, Sabine leaned forward and wrapped her arms around Ethan’s neck, pulling him into an embrace.
“Thank you,” she said. “Thank you so much.”
He stiffened in her arms, his tensed muscles finally easing when she didn’t pull back. He let his cheek briefly rest against her hair.
“Jasmine,” he murmured.
“What?” Sabine asked, looking up at him.
He cleared his throat. “You’re welcome.”
“Even a Searcher,” Nev snickered. “Only you, Sabine. I swear.”

The book takes place over just a few days.  Does Cremer expect me to believe Ethan made a complete 180 overnight?  No, just no.

And at the end of the book Sabine mentions that Shay is their new male alpha and this shocks Calla. She literally has no idea how that is even possible.

Bryn smacked her palm against her forehead. “I’m an idiot.”
“Well, I must be one too,” I snapped.  “Because I’m still not following.”
“You’re not following because you are an alpha, Cal.” She offered me a sympathetic smile. “Shay’s always felt like an equal to you, right? He talks to you on your level, has never backed down if you challenged him?”
I chewed on my lower lip. “I guess I thought that was just a human thing. That he didn’t know any better because he wasn’t one of us.”

This might have been all fine and dandy, if she hadn’t already acknowledged this on page 58:

His wolf instincts were taking over, and they were threatening something he considered his territory…me. He was acting like I was his mate. His alpha counterpart. And that meant only I could intervene.

And here:

Shay watched me, uneasy, but he was listening.  I was taken aback by how deeply the wolf had marked him. The way he reacted to me was the way on alpha took counsel from another.  That partnership made strong, unwavering leaders.  If his mind was working on those terms now, I knew how to sway him.

Based on that, why was she surprised by what Sabine said? Inconsistent.  Why didn’t the editor catch that, hmmm?

My final thought on this book is that Cremer disappointed me big time with this sequel.  I don’t even know if I want to read Bloodrose.  I started this August 3rd and finished September 11th.  I had to renew this book twice so I wouldn’t get any overage fines.  That is pathetic for me.

This book FAILED:
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Steph Sinclair

Steph Sinclair

Co-blogger at Cuddlebuggery
I'm a bibliophile trying to make it through my never-ending To-Be-Read list, equal opportunity snarker and fangirl, YA Books Central editor and co-blogger here at Cuddlebuggery. Find me on GoodReads.
Steph Sinclair
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11 Responses to “Review: Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer”

  1. Cyna

    YESSSS, THANK YOU. I spent my entire review bitching about Calla, so I totally forgot about all the world-building fail. You know, it IS possible to do magic so that it doesn’t seem like it’s ruled entirely by plot convenience, but Cramer failed so hard at that in this book. Trust me, the magical shit they just pull out of their asses at the end of Bloodrose is way worse.

    And yeah, I mean, Calla was plot-dense in Nightshade, but Wolfsbane took it to a whole different level. Who didn’t get the Monroe/Ren thing by like the second time he talks about Ren besides Calla? So, so dense.

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