Near the end of last year I decided to make an attempt at finishing some of the series which have remained unread on my bookshelves. One of these was the Raised by Wolves series, written by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. You can see my review of book one here, and book two here. The books form a paranormal YA series, and whilst this was something I was quite found of when I was much younger, it is not exactly the genre I now favour. To be honest, I have a lot of issues with YA. In my experience, it can go one of two ways; either the books are ridiculously cliché, or you stumble across something which is well written and appealing to a younger generation. Sadly, these types of books do not tend to be equally weighted, with the former category seeming to make up a much greater proportion. Having said that, whilst this series did not blow my mind, I did find myself pleasantly surprised as I quickly remembered just how much of an enjoyable read they are.
Taken By Storm, the last in the trilogy, once more follows Bryn, the human teenage girl who, through extraordinary events, has found herself as the Alpha of her own pack of wolves. Bryn’s pack is even more unusual because of the high number of very rare female wolves she has, something which fills her neighbouring packs with lust. These females, combined with the fact that Bryn is viewed as a vulnerable human, continually threaten the safety of her pack. When evidence in the form of mutilated bodies starts to point towards a rabid on the loose, Bryn is forced to investigate in order to maintain the security of those she longs to protect. I can’t say much more than this without giving major spoilers, but as you can imagine, her plans do not run smoothly.
What I like about Barnes’s writing is that she is able to move so fluidly from each consecutive book. She is able to give gentle nods to what we have previously read, without going into a lengthy retelling which we all know becomes very tedious very quickly. This book efficiently establishes a place and time, and we are able to pick up seamlessly from the events of the last novel without feeling that we have missed things.
Just as she can continue the plot without hesitation, the writer also carries her characters through to each new novel, sustaining their personalities. Bryn in particular is her usual teenage self, with her snarky comments and sarcastic tones. Admittedly, I do think the author occasionally overdoes the moody/badass teenager combination, but Bryn’s character is certainly defined. Across the series, and especially towards the end of this book, we see both Bryn and the other characters maturing and adapting to their situations, with a progression with matched the quick nature of the plot.
As always, these are extremely fast paced and plot focused books. If you are looking for something meaty, which you can really get your teeth stuck into, I wouldn’t recommend these. However, if you are a fan of books which run on continually with a fast paced nature, then this is definitely for you. I did think that sometimes the book seemed to run on so quickly that we did not always get the fullest character development. There were many instances where the characterisation seemed to roll off what had previously been established, and I would have liked a bit more time spent to see a more natural growth.
What I really enjoyed about this installment in the series was that we finally got to have a closer look into the abilities Bryn possesses, specifically her Resilience. I did feel that this was eventually cut somewhat short, but the idea of Bryn learning to understand and master her ability was something which was very interesting, and made a nice change to the obviously wolf dominant powers. Another thing which I think was very well done was that the more I have progressed with this series, there has been less of the clichéd elements of YA. By which I mainly mean the overdone love struck teenagers, especially where the cringe worthy love triangle is involved. Obviously Bryn and Chase are romantically involved, but time is not spent needlessly saturated with this, and in fact the moments where they are together avoid being romantically clichéd.
If I am being brutally honest, these novels are definitely far from being extremely literary. The writing style itself is quite basic, and not encumbered by overly sophisticated grammar. Yet that is exactly what makes this kind of book work. It allows the focus to remain solely on the plot, and reminds us what can be achieved purely through the art of storytelling. Following from this, this book is not something which looks at social or politic topics which challenge the reader, but instead remains as something which is focused on the ability to just enjoy the story we are being told at face value.
Perhaps the thing I was most pleased with once I finished this book was the ending. I had obviously wondered where the conclusion was heading, and how the events could be tied together. I was thankful that the author did not give us an overly happy, bunny rabbits and roses type ending, but one which had grit, sadness and despair interwoven. She was able to let things pan out in a natural way which may not have given us the stereotypical happy ending, but felt wholly free from orchestration. Life is not predetermined to give you a blissful ending, and the series finished on a perfect note because of its realistic nature. Whilst the series as a whole did not consume my every waking thought, it did leave me entertained throughout, and at the end of the day, that is what want when I sit down to escape the routine of life for a few hours.