Sunday, March 20, 2011

Trial by Fire by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Raised by Wolves, Book 2)

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: EgmontUSA (June 14, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1606841688
ISBN-13: 978-1606841686

Bryn is now leader of the Cedar Ridge pack of werewolves and she's convinced that her pack is different - it's democratic and fair. Then Bryn finds a battered teenage Were, Connor, bleeding on her front porch. He begs Bryn to protect him from an abusive leader; Bryn takes him into her pack.

But Bryn's Were partner Chase doesn't trust the new boy, and the more time she spends helping Connor, the more aggressive Chase becomes. Bryn is not sure if it's jealousy, or Were possessiveness but for the first time she starts to feel suffocated by the bond she and Chase share.

Filled with action, unlikely allies, and deadly conspiracies, TRIAL BY FIRE will change Bryn forever. She is soon to realise that to lead a pack of werewolves, she must give in to her animal instincts and become a little less human. And as hard as it's going to be, Bryn is going to have to do it alone.

There can only be one alpha.


We return to the best YA werewolf series known to the genre, this is said by Melissa Marr, and me. 

Bryn knew all along that the other Alphas that make up the Senate--besides Callum--would come after her at some point in time for the female Weres in her pack. And when Shay comes to the forefront of a new feud between the Cedar Ridge Pack and the Snake Bend Pack, it comes as no surprise. Shay, being Bryn's best friend's older brother and Alpha of the Snake Bend Pack, has instigated the most unassuming and by-the-book tactics in order to acquire what he wants most. The rare gems in the werewolf community: female werewolves. 

When a foreign wolf enters Bryn's territory badly broken in all meaning of the word, and invades her pack's lives, Bryn feels it is her duty as Alpha to protect this wolf from his previous Alpha and the others willing to fight to get him back. Only those others are nothing like anything Bryn and her Pack has ever encountered before. We're talking a whole new ballpark here.

Barnes strikes another wonder with this new installment on the insight of Bryn's new life as an Alpha. Not only does it feel like Bryn is maturing as a character but she faces some astronomically tough decisions when it comes to the safety of all those dependent on her. She always feels like she should be on the front line, fighting against future threats head-on but soon comes to realize, that though she has a responsibility toward her pack, she is not the least bit alone. Barnes is able to construct scenarios where the Alpha gets the final say, and where she also has to consider all the options and determine that the safest choice may not be the best. Being Alpha is impossible, and Bronwyn Alessia St. Vincent Clare is an impossible girl. 

What was a major theme throughout the whole duration of Trial by Fire was the constant participation of other characters in almost every scene. I do love when the main character--heroine, in this case--is in a solitude state to recover from the latest fiasco, but in this book you get a dose of any and all other characters. At times, I did not appreciate the constant intrusion but, otherwise, it really helped unravel Ali's--Bryn's foster mother's--past, more information on the inner workings of Chase, and the villainous temperament of all that is Shay; among other new characters that are introduced will a deadly mindset and their histories were interesting to flip through too. Minor twists in the plot really kept the ball rolling, and closer to the second half of the book, things got really interesting. Barnes orchestrated the events in Trial by Fire like a music director, always in sync to the outcomes and surprising the heck out of me when I read Bryn's logical solutions.

I'm sure that I'll continue to enjoy the future installment as this series progresses. The next book is due out next summer and I  hope that the series continues with its troubling complications because what I enjoy the most is the depth that Barnes presents to the choices that Bryn makes, and that constant possibility that she may not outlive them. (Being the only human Alpha in existence in their werewolf world.)

I would not recommend reading this book as a stand-alone, just because I thought the first book, Raised by Wolves, really holds some valuable informative issues that provides the starting point of everything Bryn.

Grade: B+

This ARC was provided by the publisher for my uninfluenced review.

Fun Author Fact--

While reading the back of the ARC copy I learned that Jennifer is currently working on her PhD in developmental psychology at Yale University. I just thought that was pretty amazing!