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? (Publishers comments from Powell's Books)
Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is my first werewolf novel and it completely took me by surprise. Unlike many of the paranormal YA books, Raised by Wolves revolves around a mystery and not a love story. Barnes deftly sets about intricately weaving the story, piece by piece, through first person narration and flashbacks. I was drawn into the story by Byrn’s defiant voice and her extremely independent and rebellious nature. I loved being a part of Byrn’s thought processes from which I gained an understanding of what life for a human was like inside the hierarchy of the pack’s society. I also gained an intimate look at several other great characters through Byrn’s interactions with them.
Callum, the pack’s Alpha, and Bryn’s guardian was a very interesting character albeit somewhat of an enigma. Bryn’s connection to him is conflicted. After her parent’s brutal murder by “the Rabid” wolf and the stories antagonist, Callum was the one who saved her, marked her, and brought her into his pack. He has the whole patriarchal thing down pat. It was obvious that while the pack came first, his devotion to Bryn sometimes made it very difficult for him as a leader, and some of the things he did, which really ticked Bryn off, were done to protect her and bring out her strengths.
As I previously mentioned, this is not a love story; however, there are two male characters with potential for becoming love interests in the future (and I am definitely hoping that Barnes plans on writing more about Bryn in the future). Devon, Bryn’s BFF is a definite possibility. I really enjoyed Devon’s character. He is a dichotomy. Although one of the youngest member of the pack, he is a purebred, which makes him one of the packs strongest wolves. However he is also a “metrosexual” and loves his human side. He wears name brand clothes, loves musicals, and bantering with Bryn in various accents. All of these characteristics make him a very endearing character, and he ends up choosing Bryn over the pack, which to me is a sign that his feelings run deeper than just being friends.
The other male character and a strong possibility as a future love interest is Chase, a human who almost dies after a horrific wolf by the same “Rabid” wolf who killed Bryn’s parents. As a result of the attack, Chase is now a were. Before Chase comes into Bryn’s life, she was unaware that a werewolf’s bite could change a human into a were, and it is this fact that spurs her actions and the plot forward. Bryn finds she has the ability to connect mentally with Chase and this ability not only saves him, but also creates a powerful bond between them.
Barnes’ dynamic characterization truly enhances the story. The steady building of background events and action leads to an exciting climax. Barnes also provides a few surprises, and ends with an astounding revelation that although not a cliffhanger definitely left me wanting more. Finally, Barnes aptly embeds ideas about democracy, leadership, and maintaining one’s individuality within a group. All these elements combine to make an extremely well crafted story.
I truly relished my first taste of the world of werewolves thanks to Barnes’ gripping novel, and I will certainly be sampling more in the near future.