Review: Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

Review: Bitten by Kelley ArmstrongBitten by Kelley Armstrong
Series: Women of the Otherworld #1
Published by Orbit
Pages: 448
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased myself
Add to Goodreads

Elena Michaels is your regular twenty-first-century girl: self-assured, smart and fighting fit. She also just happens to be the only female werewolf in the world...

It has some good points. When she walks down a dark alleyway, she's the scary one. But now her Pack - the one she abandoned so that she could live a normal life - are in trouble, and they need her help. Is she willing to risk her life to help the ex-lover who betrayed her by turning her into a werewolf in the first place? And, more to the point, does she have a choice?

Thoughts: I’ve had Bitten on my shelves for a couple of years now and, despite my ardent love for Kelley Armstrong, I had trouble picking it up. This was partly because I had heard so many good things about the book but – if I’m completely honest – it had more to do with the book itself. Because for all the great reviews out there, there were also a number of reviews that were highly critical of Clay, one of the central characters. And after reading the summary of Bitten, I couldn’t blame them. This man chose to infect the love-of-his-life against her will… how could I ever like him?

So that was my main worry going into Bitten… but in the end, my read trouble was with Elena. While I could readily accept her leaving Clay after what he had done – she never really did. Instead she kinda strung him along… and that’s just not nice. The only thing that made me forgive her was the fact that she is monstrously screwed up. She was orphaned at a young age, sexually and emotionally abused growing up, and then turned into a werewolf against her will. These aren’t the sorts of experiences that leave you unscarred. But still, given that Bitten takes place 10 years after she was bitten, I think Elena had been given enough time to get her act sorted out.

Clay, on the other hand, was fantastic. I mean, I wouldn’t actually want to meet the man out of fear for my life, but I still adored him. I had heard him described as an older version of Derek (from her Darkest Powers series) – and that’d be correct with one amendment: Clay has no “human” conscience. He doesn’t do things because they are the right thing to do, instead he’ll do whatever he must in order to protect his pack. That includes the disemboweling of innocents (no, that doesn’t happen in Bitten, but I would never put it past him).

As you might have imagined, there is an insane amount of violence in this book. Usually, I’m all on board with blood and guts in my UF, but there was one scene of needless violence that really bothered me. I get that they are werewolves and that, in their wolf form, they’ll kill pretty much anything if it threatens them. But when Elena killed a dog while she was human, and neither she nor Clay felt the slightest bit of remorse? I was so so so not ok with that. Killing out of necessity I understand, but when they killed the dog out of convenience it just seemed… out of character.

And despite my issues with Elena and her somewhat-homicidal habits (Derek and Chloe need to stay far far away from the pack if they are still like this), I still enjoyed Bitten. It kept me up well past my bedtime; I was thinking about these characters while I wasn’t reading. And I think Stolen will be much better… Bitten was written as a stand-alone novel, and I truly believe it would have been a different (more enjoyable) book if Kelley Armstrong had written it knowing there’d be a sequel.

Bottom line? Kelley Armstrong is a fantastic author and her Otherworld verse is one I can’t wait to read more about. But is this her best book? Well… she can do better.

Favourite Quote:

The glowing ember shot into the sky, arced, then came tumbling down, end over end like a falling star. I glanced down at Clay. He was watching the sparkler and grinning with as much childlike joy as I´d felt, dancing around the grove with my fairy wand. I looked back up at the light, closed my eyes, and made my wish.

I wished I knew what I wanted.