Book Review: Raised by Wolves (Raised by Wolves #1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Raised by Wolves
Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Summary:   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?

I've let my YA reading become far & few between of late because I they were all beginning to read the same. In much the same way, I've spaced my reading of vampire, were & witch stories. So, since I treated myself to a vampire story recently, I decided it would be okay to give the werewolf a turn.

As YA stories go, this was pretty well done. The angst was sometimes a bit much but Bryn, the main character didn't have me wishing for her to just shut up already, so that's a great thing. Also, I found that I really enjoyed the adults in the story. Ali & Callum especially & Mitch & Keely to a lesser extent, were more than just tertiary existences to Bryn & the story. Ali & Callum were real & had deep influence on her daily life. I found it so refreshing that Bryn had to deal with them & the author hadn't simply made adults these people who exist but have no import in the lives of the characters. Perhaps this was easier to do, as much of the story revolves around Pack life & hierarchy. Bryn & other age-mates don't have autonomy to just do what they want & when and sometimes it's claustrophobic.

I was most interested in the pack politics & the mystery surrounding The Rabid. The introduction of Chase as the newly bitten changed were was fine. I mostly couldn't tell whether their bond was romantic or sibling (because they had both suffered & survived The Rabid) & that ultimately made me care less. His cryptic mention of having liked her before he was bitten though they had never met was never addressed so I wondered if he was a long lost sibling from when Bryn's family was slaughtered when she was four. That Bryn sort of extrapolates this bond thing into a kind of love thing hinted at romantic but I was never sure. By the time the kiss happens at the end, I don't think it mattered much as it wasn't really pivotal or relevant to anything going on. Chase is one of the least fleshed out characters in the story & often reverts to the monosyllabic (sometimes he gets two), so there's only so involved with his character one could get. He was ultimately needed to be the go to to get information for Bryn's mission & he serves his purpose to the plot well enough. Devon & Lake were much better characters but strangely stereotypical at times. They exist in different parts of the story as resident BFF to Bryn & near the end as part of her big plan.

The epic beat down on Bryn by Sora at the order of Callum was likely the boldest move of the story. The aftermath of Bryn internalizing that it was okay because it was a pack-thing was also a bold way to go. Ali is the saving grace to this part of the story because she does what most people would hope the adult would do should this happen to a 15 year-old girl. I wanted to know what Devon's perspective was for what happened & found it strange that even though Bryn had a laptop, he never sent her an email when she left town. I mean, really? He never once checked on how she was after she regained consciousness. Honestly, it felt like the author just dropped the Devon thread here & replaced him with Lake out at The Wayfarer.

The culmination of the story with Bryn, Chase, Devon, Lake the pack Senate & the Rabid was a bit pat for me. First, that Chase was even allowed to get away from his, up until then, severe lockdown by Callum & the Pack for his unpredictability being so new at being a were, to go & meet up with Bryn & Lake, made no sense & was never explained. I also didn't buy Callum sort of being granted absolution for all that he'd done (the beating) & allowed to happen by chalking it up to basically having done all that he had for Bryn's own good. It sort of tainted the whole father-daughter relationship coming full circle, for me.

I liked this well enough to want to read the rest of the series. I'm most interested in the pack politics and how Bryn's new pack will come into its own (though it's populated by children, so I don't expect they'll be going all warlike with the other packs in the subsequent books). Still, I am interested in seeing how Bryn comes into her own as a leader & how she finds her way.

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