Published by Plume Books on September 7th 2004
Elena Michaels is the world’s only female werewolf. And she’s tired of it. Tired of a life spent hiding and protecting, a life where her most important job is hunting down rogue werewolves. Tired of a world that not only accepts the worst in her–her temper, her violence–but requires it. Worst of all, she realizes she’s growing content with that life, with being that person.
So she left the Pack and returned to Toronto where she’s trying to live as a human. When the Pack leader calls asking for her help fighting a sudden uprising, she only agrees because she owes him. Once this is over, she’ll be squared with the Pack and free to live life as a human. Which is what she wants. Really.
Kelley Armstrong does a very good job setting up the world in this first book. There’s lots of little details describing the way the pack works and the hierarchy and such that makes it feel very real. I definitely think that is one of the books strengths, and what has made it such a popular series. I enjoyed the scenes that were written from the werewolves point of view; they were still human thoughts, but the behavior was distinctly animal. Vice versa, it was interesting to see the way Elena thought and acted when she was human, and how it compared to when she was in wolf form.
There were a lot of good active scenes, chasing and hunting the mutts, which certainly kept me interested. I also liked seeing Clay and Elena work together (surprisingly well), even though they didn’t want to. The dynamic of trust between them was really interesting.
I had already seen the TV show when I read this book, so I already knew some of the story (although it does diverge quite a bit starting around the middle of the book). I found the story of the Mutts vs. Pack interesting, but it did drag at times. The relationship dynamics were really weird too. Armstrong continually said how the pack didn’t really have the human emotions of like, caring about people, but that wasn’t the vibe I got from them. Maybe that’s the point: Elena THOUGHT they didn’t, but she learned by the end that they did?
The Elena-Nick-Clay thing got old REALLY fast. Like, why was Nick always trying to make out with Elena? And why was she mostly ok with it? Everyone knew she and Clay were supposed to be together, but everyone was weirdly fine with Nick hitting on her all the time.
On that same note, I didn’t really like Elena or Clay. I liked them in the TV show, but they came across as annoying in the book. Clay got better as the book went along, but we got all these mixed signals from Armstrong about his character. She kept hitting us over the head with the fact that he is more wolf than human (aka, violent, aggressive, rash, etc), but then he did some selfless thing, only to be followed by the proclamation that he is still a selfish idiot. It just got harder and harder to like him because it was like Armstrong didn’t want us to like him. It was a really weird character to read (and I really liked him in the show). Elena was just whiny and annoying. I did like her more at the end, so there’s that.