Sunday, July 4, 2010

Review - Raised By Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Summery (via Goodreads): Adopted by the Alpha of a werewolf pack after a rogue wolf brutally killed her parents right before her eyes, fifteen-year-old Bryn knows only pack life, and the rigid social hierarchy that controls it. That doesn't mean that she's averse to breaking a rule or two.

But when her curiosity gets the better of her and she discovers Chase, a new teen locked in a cage in her guardian's basement, and witnesses him turn into a wolf before her eyes, the horrific memories of her parents' murders return. Bryn becomes obsessed with getting her questions answered, and Chase is the only one who can provide the information she needs.

But in her drive to find the truth, will Bryn push too far beyond the constraints of the pack, forcing her to leave behind her friends, her family, and the identity that she's shaped?

Review: I’m a sucker for a good werewolf story, especially if it’s female-centric, so I was slightly put off at first when I realized Bryn wasn’t actually a werewolf, but as I got into the story she became such an engaging, irreverent character her mere “human-ness” didn’t matter much at all.

Barnes has an interesting take on the genre, creating almost “proxy werewolves” through the process of Marking, which makes select humans part of the wolf pack in every sense but the furriness. The pack dynamic itself is fascinating. The werewolves and those that are Marked have almost psychic bonds with each other. The scene where Bryn finally opens herself up to the pack mentally and emotionally is really poignant and makes you really understand what the members of the pack mean to each other. It actually made me tear up a little as I was reading.

I really loved all the female characters in Raised By Wolves. Every single one was strong and independent, yet very real and vulnerable. This looks like it’s the first in a series and I, for one, can’t wait to see what they do with the character of Kate, who I found absolutely adorable. I’m really interested to see how female werewolves, who are few and far between, grow up and develop in the pack. I almost hope we get a novel from Lake’s (Bryn’s werewolf friend) point of view.

Devon, Bryn’s best friend was also a really fascinating character. He undermined my ideas of “typical” werewolves in his obsession with Broadway musicals and designer labels, yet he didn’t lose one ounce of masculinity and wasn’t in any way reduced to a stereotype. Bryn’s relationship with Chase was a little quick and it took me a little while to adjust to their sudden closeness, but it definitely worked for me in the end.

What I loved most about Barnes’ novel was the way she took this masculine world that normally has women regulated to sexual objects, maternal figures, or victims and really created something new. Many other werewolf or shifter series have women that step into positions of power. Yet, they are merely given these positions by their male predecessors. In Raised By Wolves, Bryn creates an entirely new hierarchy for herself and others. Bryn, a character that, by traditional thought in the genre, should be weak as both human and female isn’t given any sort of power, but demands it and takes it, turning the whole dynamic of the pack on its head.

For a novel that could have easily been just a fun, thrilling YA fantasy, it’s really refreshing to be forced to think about gender roles, and see a strong female character set her own terms for how and where she fits into society (werewolf society or not).

Lit Snit Verdict: B+


  1. I have been scarred for life by "Teen Wolf"... I was only 5 and werewolfs have been an obsession of mine since then (obviously I was doomed as soon as my older brother realized my fear).
    Now it's probably time to re-valuate the whole category, werewolfs are not so bad (and michael certainly wasn't).
    I see you are reading "Perfect Chemistry", I can't wait for your review!

  2. Thank you for the review. I have been looking for more books that center around strong, independent women. The first article in my Up In Smoke series goes head-to-head with those who believe that chick lit/romance novels feature dependent, relationship absorbed heroines. This would make a great addition to the growing list.

  3. You were scarred by Teen Wolf? That's like the Disney version of werewolves! :) (Though I probably shouldn't talk. I have some childhood E.T. trauma that I'm also dealing with *shudders*)
    You should definitely check out Raised By Wolves or Kelley Armstrong's Bitten. Hopefully they'll help you through your werewolf phobia. They're both probably my favorite werewolf books/series out right now.

  4. I'll have to check out your Up In Smoke series! Sounds awesome. I'm sure Raised By Wolves would be perfect for it. I was surprised how much I though about gender and male/female issues of dominance and power when I was finished. It was surprisingly thought-provoking.

  5. I loved Raised by Wolves! I agree with you Bryn never broke down and asked to be saved and even when she made mistakes she stood strong. I can't wait to read the follow up to Raised by Wolves. Great review!

  6. I know what you mean, Cari! This first book just came out but I'm already waiting impatiently for the next one. I loved how Bryn created her own pack, with it's own set of rules. I've read a bunch of books in the werewolf/shifter genre and, while they were good and had strong female characters, this is the first that truly struck me as having, dare I say, feminist protagonist.