(#1 Women of the Otherworld)
By Kelley Armstrong
Rating: 4 stars
Elena Michaels is a werewolf. She tries to be human, 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 reconsider who and what she is.
This book really gripped me at the halfway mark, which was a relief. At the start I was put off by Elena’s anger and her nonchalant attitude about her more savage and bloodthirsty nature. I was especially put off by implied rampant human killing of the pack and other werewolves. My moral compass cringed at that one and I read on with a wary eye towards future savagery. The book certainly turned real bloody, real fast.
Bitten re-imagines werewolf lore in a very refreshing way; firstly, their world population is really small. I believe they number around 35 or so, and we’re down by several wolves by the end of the book. They can be killed by any of the usual means – no ‘Wolverine’ healing abilities, no silver bullets needed. Their transformations are not quick, or painless, or tied to the moon either. And what proves to be really handy – they don’t transform back into human form if they are killed as wolves.
Villains are crafty and really devilish. It doesn’t need mentioning I enjoyed that because there’s nothing that can ruin a book faster than a bunch of incompetent bad guys. I was really scared there with Elena, especially since nothing seemed to go her way. Using serial killers to strengthen the ranks before attacking the pack seems like a good choice in some aspects, but their psychological profiles prove to be their fatal flaw. Can’t teach them teamwork, can you?
The pack is rather small and has some interesting characters. Jeremy is truly the centre of the group, solid and dependable. He sure has nerves of steel and the patience of a saint dealing with the wolves, Elena in particular. I hope to see more of him.
Clay, too, is an interesting character, when he gets a word edgewise to Elena. Their (non)conversations are funny in some aspects, and depressing in others. He sure loves her for putting up with her mercurial moods. I’d have tired of her very soon. Elena doesn’t know how to make up her mind and her confusion makes her keep people at arm’s length emotionally if not physically. She sure jumped into Clay’s bed quickly enough when she was in a steady relationship with Phillip, human. I was not happy with her for this although I saw the cracks in their relationship early on in the book.
I’m still not happy with Clay having bitten her; it was a really crappy move, especially since he had no idea whether she would even survive it or not. Yet now that she’s part of the pack, he’s been good to her and for her. He gives her the stability she needs in accepting her dual nature and overcoming her rather hellish childhood. I wonder, though, why they both experienced such shitty childhoods – it’s unnecessarily cruel to the characters and even cliché.
I hope Clay’s more cerebral side gets emphasized in the future; I like my men with brains, but having a nice body certainly doesn’t hurt. It is implied he’s well-built, tall and handsome, yet not overly muscular in that usual werewolf hunk type we can see on the TV. I’ve looked at the pilot of the TV adaptation of the book and I was not happy with the way they portrayed him and the transformed wolves. I’m not watching it since I’d rather read the books. Elena grew on me by the end of the book and that made all the difference.
Trailer for the TV series