*** This review contains major spoilers. ***
Calla Tor is separated from her pack and her family, surrounded by the Searchers, who have been her enemies for as long as she can remember. She assumes they will kill her soon until they offer to make her part of their campaign to destroy the Keepers, the masters of her and the other guardians that treat them like property. Since it gives her the opportunity to save her friends and family, including Ren, and earn them their freedom, Calla agrees. Shay, the Chosen One turned Guardian, is with Calla and acts as her only support system, but she still has complicated feelings about Ren. Will the Searchers keep their promises and save her friends despite their past conflicts? How many will die in the fight for freedom? Will she ever choose between Ren and Shay?
I read Nightshade and I had some significant problems with it, namely with Renier and the oppressive and misogynistic wolf pack hierarchy, but other aspects of the story redeemed it for me. Wolfsbane had all of the things I hated about Nightshade and more with none of the things that I liked. In the last book, Renier was insufferable and used violence as well as passive aggressive tactics to make Calla feel inferior. He didn’t figure largely in this installment, but when he appeared, he made a big impression. When Calla returned to her home to try to save him, he decided to beat her into submission and “break” her because that’s what a good boyfriend should do to make his girlfriend stay with him. If that wasn’t enough, Calla blames herself and feels guilty for his actions, which just screams domestic abuse situation. I had absolutely no sympathy for Ren because he decided it was ok to express his love through his fists.
Now, let’s move on to Shay. In Nightshade, he was a great character and everything that Ren wasn’t: understanding, caring, and an all-around good boyfriend. Now that he turned into a Guardian, he automatically turned abusive and egotistical just like Ren. He pressured Calla for sex, which she refused because she wasn’t ready and she still had complicated feelings about Ren. In true Guardian fashion, Shay became angry and jealous. Calla was scared that he would shift and hurt her and she still wanted to stay with him. This scene alone gave me the urge to throw the book across the room. Neither of these boys was remotely attractive or worthy of Calla’s affections. I really wanted her to come to her senses and stand up for herself with both Shay and Ren, but she never did. The strength she had in the first book was gone, making her into a hugely uninteresting character. I truly don’t understand the fandom surrounding this series, revering these abusive males and arguing which one is better. With a society that already has misogyny deeply ingrained into it, there really doesn’t need to be any more normalizing of violence against women.
Wolfsbane, in addition to featuring horrible romantic interests, didn’t have much going on plot wise. It fell into the second novel in a trilogy pitfall where it sets up for the third book, but doesn’t do much else. The cover was also terrible, featuring an oversexualized Calla in a suggestive pose, which is far inferior to the original design that was circulated. Isn't it pretty? The only good things about the novel were Andrea Cremer’s fluid writing, some of the new Searcher characters, and the glimpse into the Searcher way of life. The negatives of this novel vastly outweigh the positives for me and I won’t be reading the rest of the series.
My rating: 1/5 fishmuffins