Raised by Wolves is a novel by Jennifer Lynn Barnes set to drop in June of 2010. This is not her first novel, she has written Golden, Platinum, Tattoo, Fate and The Squad series. This new novel is about a girl named Bronwyn, or more affectionately, Bryn. At four years old, her family was brutally murdered by a rogue werewolf driven by blood lust and a desire to kill. Bryn hid from him as long as she could, relying on a survival instinct. Her life is intercepted by Callum, Alpha of the Stone River pack of werewolves. He takes Bryn under his wing and she becomes a human in a pack of werewolves, claimed by the Alpha as something special.
We meet Bryn when she’s fifteen years old, already accustomed to pack life as a human and cherished by the Alpha as precious and fragile. There is something wrong in the air and even Bryn’s weakened human senses pick up on it. The wolves are antsy and they don’t want their human charge to be roaming the woods at night. Bryn latches on to this, never one to be put down by dominance games. She is her own woman and she aims to stay that way. Her stubbornness and need for independence leads her to a boy named Chase. He was mauled by a werewolf and left for dead. Callum found him and brought him into the fold, giving Bryn an opportunity to meet the boy and stumble upon the secrets of the pack. Together they must decide where their loyalty truly resides, with the pack or with each other.
The beginning of the novel is very hard to get through, Barnes consistently uses clichés and already established phrases. Instead of saying “to a T” several times in a chapter, I felt that she could have found more creative ways to depict how perfect and absolute the situation was. Some of the dialogue felt forced as well as the portrayal of some characters, for example Devon. It is understandable that he is a metrosexual, but the obsession with movie musicals and high fashion tends to depict him as a stereotypical homosexual. It’s not enough that Dev is more interested in how he looks than in how strong he is; the stakes for him need to be higher in order to claim him as different from the pack.
I almost gave up. Almost. Then, it seemed as if everything Barnes was holding leading up was unleashed in a tidal wave of emotion and strength. When the focus of the story became the emotions of the characters and what it meant to be a pack, I was sucked in. There was so much in her description of what the pack felt and how they all affected each other and protected each other that it latched onto my heart. My doubts vanished and I was happy that I spent time with these characters.
Barnes explores very important themes for teenage girls. Bryn wouldn’t succumb to the dominance of the pack. She held onto her independence for as long as she could. There are too many girls out there today that think it’s okay to let someone else take their independence. Bryn would teach them that it’s not. Everything that’s in your heart belongs to you and only you. Another theme is family, which in a way weaves through the theme of Bryn’s fight against dominance. There is a difference between letting your family in and being protective and letting them control you and hurt you because you did something wrong. Just because they have ties to you as a family does not mean they have a right to destroy you from the inside. Family is something different, and that is what Bryn discovers with the help of her friends.
The novel ended on a question mark. There seems to be the possibility that Bryn’s story could continue, and I certainly hope it does. Definitely a good read for the summer, be sure to pick it up when it hits stores on June 8th. She has her own Live Journal, so go show her some love. Raised by Wolves is available for pre-order.
P.S– I know I haven’t been keeping up as much as I should, and I suck for that. I’m in the final stretch of my semester and everything is rising up into a crescendo of chaos and disorder. Summer approaches filled with promises of lazy afternoons and wonderful books to read. Thank you for all of your support and interest. Hold on with me during the next couple of weeks. I need you guys.