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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this paranormal romance-adventure is heavy on violent action sequences and even heavier on teen hormones. The Guardian werewolves are involved in bloody skirmishes with other paranormal creatures, and there is a slight body count. Sexuality, love, and marriage are all discussed at length, because the protagonist is betrothed. There is some passionate kissing and touching, as well as the standard language you'd expect in a PG-13 movie ("s--t," "ass," "bitch," etc.). The book follows a strong, independent but emotionally fragile female protagonist who must choose between two lives and two suitors that represent different values.
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What's the story?
Calla Tor is no ordinary 17-year-old blond beauty; she's an alpha Guardian -- an elite werewolf who is part of a pack that protects the mysterious and powerful Keepers (witches) living in Colorado. One day Calla breaks a Guardian vow by shifting forms to save the life of a human guy. She reveals herself to him, thinking she'll never see him again, but when she returns to her elite private school, he's the new guy in town. His name is Shay, and he's only got eyes for Calla, but she's spoken for in an arranged betrothal to Ren, the sexy alpha male of a rival pack. Ren and Calla are destined to be "mated" on Halloween, unifying the two packs, but in the two months leading up to her marriage ceremony, Calla realizes Shay isn't just a normal human, and her feelings for him are too complicated to ignore. Calla must choose between her desire for Shay and the unknown and her relationship with Ren and their devoted pack.
Is it any good?
Andrea Cremer's first novel is as fast-paced and emotionally driven as you'd expect in a best-selling novel aimed at teen girls. Like many comparable heroines, Calla is a powerful protagonist who is nonetheless insecure when it comes to romance. She's inexperienced and unbelievably drawn to both her sexy alpha-male fiancé, Ren, and the sweet and passionate mystery guy, Shay. But by focusing so much on Calla's stomach-flipping feelings of infatuation, lust and (could it be?) first love, Cremer creates a heroine who somehow lacks the substance and spunk of Hex Hall's Sophie, the Mortal Instruments' Clary or Paranormalcy's Evie.
Calla isn't particularly clever or funny or smart. She is, however, a fierce fighter, doting sister, and protective friend. Sadly, when it comes to her singular interest in Shay, she loses some of her appeal. The two guys each have their merits, and the story is obviously going to divide fans into Team Ren or Team Shay, but it's fairly obvious (at least in this first book) whom the author means Calla to be with ultimately. The cliffhanger ending may frustrate some readers, but luckily the sequel is already available, so you can immediately move on to Wolfsbane.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence depicted in the book. Is reading about paranormal violence less disturbing than something more realistic, like gun violence or gang altercations?
Why are love triangles so prevalent in young adult literature? Which of Calla's love interests do you prefer and why? Do you think she makes the right choice?
How does the werewolf lore in the story compare with the werewolves in comparable teen books? Do you think there is too much backstory about the wolves and the witches? Do you understand all the mythology and philosophy discussed among the characters?
- Author: Andrea Cremer
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Philomel
- Publication date: October 19, 2010
- Number of pages: 528
- Awards: ALA Best and Notable Books, Caldecott Medal and Honors, Common Sense Media Award, Coretta Scott King Medal and Honors, Newbery Medal and Honors
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.