The mosquitos in North Dakota are nuts. I have welts up and down my arms, as well as on some more uncomfortable places. I will miss my niece and nephew when I leave next Monday, but not the bug life.
By Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Available now from Egmont
Jennifer Lynn Barnes has an interesting livejournal, which is where I first heard of her. It prompted me to pick up TATTOO, which I enjoyed. (I'm still looking for a copy of FATE.) I'm amazed at how prolific she is, considering the whole college thing and that she's now going off to research in the UK. I'm also amazed that given those constraints her books are so much fun.
RAISED BY WOLVES is the story of Bryn, a young woman who was . . . raised by wolves. She knows how to walk the walk and talk the talk, having lived with werewolves since her parents' murder when she was just a child. But now that she's pretty much a grown-up, she's starting to push the boundaries even more and figure out her place in the world, which has never really existed. Unfortunately, this self-exploration coincides with the arrival of a new werewolf: Chase. Chase was bitten by a rabid, but Bryn always thought you couldn't become a werewolf through a bite.
Perhaps Bryn would recover from this information without much trouble, but she and Chase feel and strange connection and start exhibiting special, unique qualities. This is what I love about Barnes's approach. Normally, I'd be getting annoyed by the human raised by wolves who has super special powers. Yet there always appears to be some reason that Bryn is special aside from the fact she's the main character and it turns out she's not the only special one.
Personally, I felt more attached to most of the secondary characters other than Chase. He's sort of bland and never fleshed out aside from what he means to Bryn's self-discovery. Her old werewolf pals, however, are brilliant. The world's first metrosexual werewolf and a werewolf girl who likes to find out people's secrets and has a weapons fetish would of course be friends with the human Pack member. Callum, the Pack alpha, is also quite compelling. He obviously cares for Bryn, but he just as obviously is caught between a rock and a hard place as he has to enforce the laws and ideals he's shaped.
There's complexity lying beneath RAISED BY WOLVES. There's an exploration of family ties, chosen and natural. There's analysis of a different sort of society, what makes it work and what it's weak points are. There are questions about strength. Ali, Bryn's foster-mother, another human Pack member, may be the strongest character in the book. She sees things more clearly than the younger Bryn and, like Callum, can make the tough decisions needed to keep her family safe.
While some of this complexity slows things down at points (infodumps, mostly), RAISED BY WOLVES generally doesn't feel like it's more complex than your standard paranormal romance. Barnes keeps things moving along and tends to make the proceedings humorous when possible. She has a charming authorial voice that's just what's needed to keep a headstrong and impulsive protagonist like Bryn empathetic. I hope that there will be a sequel just because I enjoyed the world so much.