Ashleigh Paige

I'm a full-time college sophomore pursuing my B.A. in English with hopes of one day working as an editor. Cats, musicals, documentaries about cults/disasters/tragedies, and curse words are just a few of my favorite things. Also, check out our blog or I WILL FIND YOU.

Nightshade (Nightshade Series #1)

Nightshade (Nightshade Series #1) - See more of my reviews on The YA Kitten!Alpha female Calla Tor knows what is expected of her: to remain chaste until her eighteenth birthday, when she will mate with the other wolf pack's alpha male Ren and rule the new pack together. Then she goes out on day and saves Shay Doran from death for a reason she can't explain. A few days later, Shay starts at her school and the Keepers who dictate what she and the other Guardians do say to keep Shay safe. What is the purpose of this human boy staying with the Keepers? And why can't she stop wanting him to touch her when she is supposed to be another? Questioning what she thought was her destiny could cost her everything if she makes the wrong choice.CharactersMy first impression of Calla came when she thought "wow, he's hot" (paraphrased) of Shay when he was on the ground writhing in pain. This surely should have warned me of what was to come. Calla's inability to get her hormones under control drove me batty. Feeling desire is good. Controlling your desire is good. Letting your desire dictate your every action is imbecilic. Having makeout breaks when it is not a good time to do so is borderline TSTL. "Oh my God, we just [plot event from Nightshade]! What do we do now?" "Make out and pin each other down!" It felt like seeing Red Riding Hood all over again.Ren and Shay are just as disrespectful of women and overall disgusting. Ren's attitude of "sure, I dated all these other girls, but I'm all about you now, Lily!" is unrealistic; guys who act like that are never really going to be "all about" the girl they say it too. I think readers are supposed to prefer Shay or at least see what Calla sees in him, but when he calls girls gum-snapping bimbos, I'm more inclined to hit him than kiss him. Shay's insta-love connection with Calla did not get developed and only became more annoying with each page.Plot/PacingI saw two sources of plot in this novel: Calla's indecision about Ren and Shay and the slow unraveling of the truth about the Keepers and Guardians. The former felt forced and her indecision got old very quickly. The latter was well-done, if predictable; in fact, most of the novel was predictable, especially Shay's role. The pacing of the novel was more impressive. It only took me three days to read, though I did end up throwing it a few times after reaching a boiling point in my frustration. After breaks lasting anywhere from five to twenty minutes, I got back to reading.Themes/ConflictsA very intelligent friend of mine said she read the book as a sexist dystopia of sorts and the deeply misogynistic dynamic of the packs had a purpose as both a message and a source of conflict. I did see how Nightshade can be read in such a way, but I could not continue reading like that because the messages the society was trying to get across (double standards, slut shaming, and general sexism are horrible) were continually being undermined. One such way it is undermined is detailed under Logic, and the second way is how no such gender conflict was shown between female Keeper Lumine and male Keeper Efron. Are all feminist texts banned there? Do the female Guardians not look Lumine and Efron and wonder why they can't be equal to male Guardians the same way?With the main conflict being Calla's feelings for Ren and Shay, there didn't seem to be a lot of interesting conflict. I've already made my feelings about that very clear. I wasn't a fan of the way the narrative showed a distaste for feminine things like skirts either. Feminine =/= weak. Then again, according to this book, it pretty much does. Giving Calla a position of power and continually subverting her and having her defer to men she doesn't need to defer to was just cruel.WritingUnremarkable for the most part, but it had two particularly bad moments that stick out in my mind. The first was on page 131: "The muscles in [Bryn's] jaw jumped about in a furious dance." Personally, I thought the muscles were doing a drunken tango for their lives. The other time was on page 231, when Calla couldn't stop staring at "the velvet darkness of [Shay's] irises." I could swear I've read a description exactly like that before, but it was in a vampire fic posted online and written by a thirteen-year-old girl during her first attempt at writing. Lazy storytelling in how there are two back-to-back chapters of info-dumping did not help.LogicSo Calla is slowly breaking away from a society that disrespects her so she can have the free will to be with... a guy who disrespects her? Shay is supposed to represent the freedom to make one's own choices, but he is no less disrespectful than Ren and she defers to both just as easily. Not only does this undermine the the message the book is trying to get across, but it makes her look stupid because the book is about little else than her meebling about which boy to be with. After she brushed off the bite of a giant guard-spider until it nearly killed her, she needed no help in that department.Was it worth the hype?No. Just no. I heard this was a book with a strong heroine and a well-done mythos. The "strong heroine" conversation is a long, complicated one where everyone says something different, but I do not feel Calla is a good heroine or a strong one. I do agree about the mythos being well-done, but it is not given the attention it deserves.Bonus cover sectionThis is probably my favorite part of the book. I have the hardcover edition and the cover model vaguely reminds me of my goddess Ke$ha.