29 April 2013

Review: Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

Elena Michael's idyllic life was shattered when her parents were killed in a car accident when she was a young child. Years of dysfunctional foster care in multiple homes left her distrustful and tough. Once she met Clayton, though, she saw a chance at real happiness and love. There was only one problem: Clayton bit her. And it was no ordinary love nip; it was the bite of a werewolf, and against all odds, Elena became the only female to have ever survived the change.

Although the pack offered her a family she had always craved, Elena had no desire to give up her humanity and doesn't always relish her status as the only woman  werewolf. Thus several years after her change, she gets permission from the alpha male to leave their upstate New York home to try to live among humans in Toronto.

When the pack's safety is threatened by enemy wolves, Elena is forced to return home, where she not only must help protect her friends but must assess her loyalties and obligations.

Kelley Armstrong's Bitten is the first entry in the Women of the Otherworld series, featuring Elena Michaels and the werewolf pack that took her in. Sometimes it seems as if were animals were becoming the new vampires, and there couldn't possibly be anything new in the genre. But Armstrong builds a unique were culture that is more in line with contemporary urban fantasies than with the old tales of full moons and silver bullets.

Elena is a strong woman learning to deal with a life that she would have never picked for herself. She is understandably distrustful. And although she still has feelings for Clayton, she can't really forgive him for turning her into a creature. At the same time, she has always been a bit outside of mainstream society and has had to rely on her own strengths and resourcefulness. Thus being a werewolf fits her personality in many ways.

Besides Elena's personal growth, Bitten involves a struggle for power between two were factions. Armstrong nicely sets up the tension and action, balancing the characters' dual natures of wolf and human. The wolves are not domesticated, and the fights can be bloody whether the characters are in human or wolf form.

One of the particularly interesting aspects of Bitten is how Kelley Armstrong plays out the two cultures (human and wolf) against each other. For example, the made werewolves have different attitudes toward human society than do the weres by birth. In addition, the made weres cannot fully shed their human personalities when they are in their wolf forms, which makes them better able to understand or read each other than can the genetic wolves, who were never fully human. These factors play into the plot, giving Elena's world a feeling of reality.

If you like action-packed plots, urban fantasy, strong female characters, and little hot sex, you'll like Kelley Armstrong's Bitten, which is a solid start to a promising series.

I listened to the unabridged audio edition (Brilliance Audio; 12 hr, 59 min) read by Aasne Vigesaa. Vigessa does an excellent job with the variety of accents (Canadian, Southern, New England) and with both the male and the female voices. Her pacing amped up the tension, and her ability to project the emotional state of the characters without becoming overly dramatic is impressive.

Buy Bitten at an Indie or at bookstore near you. This link leads to an affiliate program.
Penguin USA / Plume, 2010 (reprint edition)
ISBN-13: 9780452296640
Rating: B+

Source: Review - audio (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy).

8 comments:

rhapsodyinbooks 4/29/13, 8:15 AM  

I love Kelley Armstrong, but I really only like the Otherworld series books that involve Elena and Clayton. I thought this first one especially did a great job with making the werewolf aspect believable and sympathetic. I just saw that the new Nadia Stafford book will be coming out in November, but since it's already almost May, I suppose it's almost upon us!

Daryl 4/29/13, 10:27 AM  

another series i think i will follow .. thanks!

Linda 4/29/13, 11:45 AM  

This is one of my favorite series. I like Elena and Clayton the best but the other characters grew on me as time went on.

Zibilee 4/29/13, 1:24 PM  

I really have wanted to dip my toes into the urban fantasy pool, but despite that, I haven't yet. What you say about this book though, has me thinking that this series just might be the one. I like that the sides are so clearly delineated, and that the werewolves that were born that way react differently to humans than the ones who are not. It sounds really good, and like something that I would like to check out! Wonderful review today!

Julie P. 4/29/13, 2:43 PM  

Not so sure this one is for me, but I do feel that I should give Kelley Armstrong a shot.

Nise' 4/29/13, 9:01 PM  

I've wanted to read this author but did not know where to start. Thanks for letting me know it is the first book.

Literary Feline 4/30/13, 2:19 PM  

I love this series and really need to get back to it. Elena's one of my favorites. :-)

Belle Wong 5/1/13, 1:36 PM  

I picked this up in audio last week after we talked about it on Twitter. It's queued up and ready to go as my next audio-read, and I'm really looking forward to it!

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