By T. Mack
Between the Mercy Thompson series, the Alpha and Omega Series and this series, people are going to start thinking I won’t read anything but stories about werewolves. I promise that’s not the case. I just really, really like a good werewolf tale. The question is whether or not Bitten, by Kelley Armstrong, actually is a good werewolf tale. Well…
Bitten tells the story of thirty-year-old Elena Michaels, a werewolf who has distanced herself from her pack. She has moved away and shacked up with a human boyfriend who has no idea who or what she really is. When the pack calls to her for help, however, she has a hard time saying no. Before long, Elena finds herself back home with the werewolves and sucked into the drama and mysteries that are endangering their way of life. In the meantime, she has to try to keep her human life stabilized until she can return to it. While she’s trying to keep her worlds separate, certain werewolves make it clear they want Elena to stay with them. As the only female werewolf–apparently in the world–she’s a precious commodity, at least to some. To others, she’s a threat to be eliminated. Elena will have to fight for her life and fight even harder to live it the way she wants. If only she was absolutely sure which way that is.
This is the first time I’ve read Kelley Armstrong. I fully intend to explore her work further because Bitten is a well-written book. It’s an easy read with a vivid setting, engaging story and interesting characters. Elena, as the central character, is the most fleshed out. The story is told from her perspective so she is the one readers are to identify with the most. Despite that fact, Elena is not actually the most interesting or likable character in the book. As a matter of fact, I wanted to knock her upside her head several times during my read (more on that later). Even though she isn’t perfect, Elena is strong, clever, brave, determined and loyal. She is a character worth rooting for.
More intriguing even than Elena, though, is the pack-leader Jeremy and his son, Clayton. These two are older than Elena, have a richer backstory and are much more in touch with Elena’s truth that she is herself. I especially liked Clayton, who is far from being perfect but tries very hard to be the best version himself. Elena, by comparison, spends all her time trying to be someone she clearly is not. Other supporting characters in the book are endearing and interesting in their own right. Not everyone makes it to the end of the book and I found myself invested in the fate of all the characters, those I wanted to make it and those I was hoping would not.
While the book was kind of fun, it did have several weaknesses. First, I finished the book very confused about the nature of packs within the world the characters inhabited. Perhaps I’m biased because I’m used to a very rich and deep mythology and organization within my favorite werewolf series. If I did not have that point of reference, I may not have noticed. However, I do and I did. Elena explains that there is the pack and there are mutts, who live outside the pack. The pack rules all werewolves and mutts must follow pack rules or be killed. Okay. Fine. Except… the only pack that’s referenced is Elena’s, which is stationed in upstate New York and has less than 10 people in it. So… are there other packs? What’s up with them? Are these six guys plus Elena the only pack members in the entire country? In the whole world?! Are they ruling over every single other werewolf on the entire planet? Because if so, you’d think they’d have to devote more time to that endeavor. Especially since lycanthropy (werewolf-ism) is hereditary in this world and every time one of these pack members or mutts has a son, he becomes a werewolf, too. If there aren’t any other packs, how can that possibly work? And if there are, where in the ham sandwich are they? Is it every pack for themselves? There’s no communication between them at all? Can they help? I mean… just… what?! It was something I kept waiting to be addressed within the pages. It never was, at least as far as I can remember. Maybe I missed something? I kind of hope I did because this point bothered me the entire way through this book. I was a bit relieved when I later watched the TV show and this oversite was corrected.
Want to know what else bothered me throughout the whole book? Elena! The main character and narrative focus. She was so whiny. She was wandering around in denial, wallowing in self-loathing, waffling between men and constantly throwing accusations around. I mean, I get it. She was made a werewolf against her will. She has resentment. There is some less-than-great history between her and certain people. Girl’s got issues. But damn, hearing about it all the time got really old. Especially when the end was fairly obvious from the beginning. It felt like I knew when I started reading how things would end, so Elena seems like a bumbling idiot sometimes for taking so long to figure it out. Especially since other characters often tell her outright. I didn’t like how frustrated I continued to become with this character over these issues, especially since I actually liked her.
Bitten doesn’t offer a lot of surprises. When you read the synopsis, you’ll expect certain things to happen. They will… exactly how you expect. When you learn of the history between Elena and the other characters, you can guess how things will play out. They do… exactly the way you thought. It’s fun to read. Really. And you want to get to the end and experience the ride with the characters. But you will definitely see that end coming.
Despite it’s flaws, I would recommend Bitten when you’re looking for a quick and easy read filled with the paranormal and a bit of sexy. I don’t know if I’ll make it through the entire series, but I’ve already purchased my second-hand copy of the next book and intend to dive into it soon.
Rating: 3 SHIELDS
The book series, Otherworld, includes the following titles in order:
- Dime Store Magic
- Industrial Magic
- No Humans Involved
- Personal Demon
- Living with the Dead
- Waking the Witch
When I picked up this title, I didn’t know it was part of a series. Upon finishing the book, though, it felt like there must be a sequel out there. Low and behold, Bitten actually ended up being the first in an entire series of 13 books by Armstrong. This didn’t really surprise me. The material definitely lent itself to more adventures. I decided I’d like to check the others out but would write up a review of this title first. In the process of research, I came across a book cover that referenced a television show based on the material I’ve covered here. This did surprise me. While I liked this book, I didn’t really think it was good enough to warrant television production value. However, someone obviously disagreed. I took to Netflix to check out the show and would love to tell you what I thought of it. However, my Sister Geek, Ana, beat me to the punch. We’ve teamed up today. While I’ve told you what you need to know about the book, she’s covered the television show in a companion review to this one. Click the link to it below.
Have you read Bitten or any of the other books in the Otherworld series? Tell me what you thought in the comments below. Then be sure to head over to Ana’s review of the Bitten television show on Syfy.