Monday, April 19, 2010

Kelley Armstrong's Bitten

I finished reading Kelley Armstrong's first novel Bitten yesterday. It's also the first novel in the Women of the Otherworld series. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would - sometimes paranormal romance/urban fantasy novels have an implied audience that is too young for my tastes and sometimes the stories are just too sentimental, too poorly written, or too formulaic.

Armstrong does three things with the werewolf legend that I find interesting because they work in Otherworld, i.e. the world is believable:
  1. she doesn't follow the silver bullets theory. If it can kill a human, it can kill a werewolf in Otherworld. It just takes more and they heal faster.
  2. she sets up a hierarchy with the Pack (a very small group of organized werewolves) vs independent 'mutts'. The Pack consists of men (and one woman, Elena, who was bitten by a Pack member). The Pack leader is a man. The Pack teaches control over the powers inherent in being a werewolf and polices mutts. The Pack enables its members to live in the world if they want and to have semi-normal lives. Mutts are inherently set up to be anti-social loners.
  3. she contrasts hereditary werewolves with bitten werewolves. Only sons can become werewolves. They are taken from their human mothers and all contact with their mothers is severed when they are born. They are raised by the Pack. The bitten rarely make it, either going mad from the physical or mental agony of the Change or they are hunted and killed by the Pack for killing indiscriminately and risking the secret of the existence of werewolves.

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