Continuing my themed BEA reading, I recently read Trial by Fire: A Raised by Wolves Novel by Jennifer Lynn Barnes and The Gray Wolf Throne (A Seven Realms Novel) by Cinda Williams Chima. I haven’t actually read the previous books — there’s been one Raised by Wolves novel thus far and two in the Seven Realms series — so I was jumping in without context or back story. I didn’t really feel like I needed it. The relevant material was woven in, and the stories stood alone (although in the case of the Seven Realms, there was a LOT to work in).

Trial by Fire is a direct descendant of Annette Curtis Klause’s Blood and Chocolate. Unlike the “slutty werewolves” of Twilight (reference to hilariously wrong link bait article in Slate that puts down YA writers and readers), Barnes’ werewolves follow pack behavior and have a tough time fitting into their human, high school world. Led by a human alpha, Bryn faces challenges both by a family of humans with powers she’s never encountered and a rival pack. In a market filled with paranormal romance, it’s nice to take a break and read YA paranormal. Yes, there’s romance, but the heart of the story isn’t whether Bryn will get the boy but whether she’ll be able to save her pack and learn to lead. Trial by Fire is already out.

The Gray Wolf Throne is not the paranormal I expected. I’ve stopped reading jacket copy because of spoilers, so I make assumptions based on titles and covers. This is YA political fantasy, more in the flavor of Finnikin of the Rock. I’d like to go back and read the first two in the series. Like Trial by Fire, this is a book with supernatural elements (magic and wolves who guide the queen) and romance (reminiscent of Alanna and George Cooper), but it’s actually about a girl learning to lead and take her place in the world — the costs are clear, and the politics are tough to navigate effectively. Gray Wolf Throne will be released in September.

So… I chose two books ostensibly about wolves and ended up with stories about teen girls taking charge. Who needs link bait articles? YA is doing fine.

© 2016 Anindita Basu Sempere. 
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