A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the final installment in author Andrea Cremer's best-selling supernatural Nightshade trilogy once again features violence and sexuality that may not be appropriate for under-14 readers. The main character, Calla, continues to agonize over her overwhelming feelings of love, lust, grief, and responsibility for leading her wolf pack in a dangerous war against their oppressors. The body count includes a few key characters, and one death in particular will upset many fans. Several couples kiss passionately, and Calla initiates sex with one of her two suitors. Despite all of the steamy descriptions and bloody sequences, the trilogy does focus on the themes of loyalty, friendship, sacrifice, and family.
What's the story?
BLOODROSE follows Calla as she and Adne rescue the grieving alpha wolf, Ren, and bring him into the Guardian and Seeker alliance. To lure Ren back with her, Calla kisses him and allows him to believe that he has a chance at her heart, even though she's already been with Shay. Calla and her wolf pack must help Shay and the Seekers destroy the Keepers' evil hold on their world. But before their climactic struggle against the Keepers can conclude, Calla has to juggle keeping her now-human brother safe -- and her overwhelming hormones in check. Will her heart choose Ren, her intended who loves her despite their mutual betrayals, or Shay, the one she sacrificed her life to save and vice-versa?
Is it any good?
Calla is the rare protagonist who becomes less likable as her series continues. While there's no doubt she's a brave heroine, she's also frustratingly selfish -- even when she's purportedly acting for the greater good. The main problem is that the central love triangle in this book falls flat, and the way author Andrea Cremer resolves it is a cruel ploy that, while common in YA literature, is still a colossal (and anti-climactic) cop out. The two-guys-vying-for-one-girl scenario can be either invigorating or infuriating, and in this series, it's the latter, because one guy was misled and mistreated by both the author and her character.
There's one major plot twist in this novel that's truly surprising (unlike the love triangle resolution, which is predictable and will make some readers want to throw the book down). The final chapter provides a startling but fitting ending for the wolf pack, and, after all of the deaths and sadness, there's a lovely moment of peace that will offer Calla's fans a sense of closure, while also setting up the possibility of a spin-off for the Seekers, who were by far the more interesting group in the series. Those who love Calla may have far fewer issues with the plot and character development, but those who don't will have a hard time appreciating this final installment -- and the trilogy in general.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the ongoing popularity of the paranormal genre in young-adult literature. Why are stories about supernatural creatures so compelling? Why do most of the books emphasize violence and sexuality?
Although she started a started a sexual relationship with someone in Wolfsbane, Calla not only kisses someone else in this book but also leads him to believe he has a chance at winning her heart. Do you agree with Calla's decision? How does the resolution of this love triangle compare to other notable YA love triangles, such as those in Twilight or The Hunger Games?
One of the themes of Bloodrose is duty vs. independence. How does Calla navigate the pull on her future -- and her heart -- in this last book of the trilogy? What did you think of the final twist? Can you imagine a spin-off of this series?
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