And now we bring ourselves to the third book in the Penguin Five. I must say, I’m loving the Penguin Five. In fact, I’m just loving Penguin. They’ve done such awesome things with the marketing for these books. I hope we get a Penguin Five 2011.
I loved so many things about this book that it’s difficult to know where to start.
Near the beginning of the book the reader is with Calla, the main girl, sitting at a table in the high school cafeteria, a table full of werewolves. You can tell they are the kids that rule the school. They are the unattainable supernatural element that is so popular in YA literature. And then Calla watches the new, normal kid enter the cafeteria and you realize you’re seeing THE scene. You know, the one you’ve seen a million times from that new kids point of view. It’s Bella staring across the cafeteria at the Cullens except this time, the reader is at the Cullen’s table. And suddenly, the story just clicks. You get what it’s going to be all about.
If you’ve been paying attention to the Shadow Day’s blog then you know that previous to the story Shay, the “new kid in town,” has been trying to work out the mystery of his uncle’s weird mansion, and the library, etc. Shay’s online sleuthing ended with him deciding to go on a hike up to the caves. Nightshade begins with Calla discovering a strange human boy hiking on the mountain and she has to make a choice. To kill him, as she’s supposed to kill any human’s they find, or help him.
Her choice ultimately leads to Calla questioning everything she’s ever known about who and what she is and the way her society works. She and Shay team up to unravel the mysteries.
As I’ve previously made my growing distaste of love triangles apparent I feel I need to tell you all that there is one is this book. What I enjoyed about this love triangle is that I honestly, liked both of the boys. And not just as characters (I like Jem as a character but if he ends up with Tessa….well…I’ll…throw my book at the wall or something) but I would be happy with whichever boy Calla ends up with. I’ve never felt that way about a love triangle before. I want to know more about both boys. Whenever Calla was with Shay I was sure she should ditch Ren and her whole werewolf life. When she was with Ren I would forget that there was another love interest that, traditionally, is the one that I would be rooting for. I really liked relating to the boys in a different way than I usually do in a young adult love triangle.
There was also a plethora of interesting supporting cast members. Everyone from Calla’s family to the mysterious people who controlled the lives of the werewolves. As we learn more secrets and come to hate their way of life more and more you get a better understanding of the complicated group dynamics. Despite there being two separate packs of werewolves in this, I got the distinct feeling of a family. With all of a families ups and downs.
I had a couple of criticisms (the intense cliffhanger ending1) but most, if not all of them were due to personal tastes. I do wish a certain, spoilery plot point was explored a little more…but, I can’t explain what I mean by this without really, really spoiling something…so, I’ll just say that, all in all, I thought it was a fun story with fabulous characters and spunky twists on YA staples.
And it has a gorgeous cover. I love when good books get good covers. It makes me happy.
1 So, there are two different types of cliffhanger endings. There are one’s like in City of Bones where there is a definite ending to the story but a lot of questions are left unanswered and there’s a big THING looming over the characters. I don’t have a problem with that type of cliffhanger. I, personally, hate the type that just stops in the middle of action. There is no conclusion, no wrap up. Just, “OH MY GOD!” The end. This just ticks me off and it is the type of ending Nightshade has. But, as I mentioned, it is a personal preference, not a criticism about the writing or anything like that.