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Wolfsbane - Andrea Cremer
Somewhat predictable and dragging sequel, 2.5 stars

In the second book of Andrea Cremer's Nightshade series, Wolfsbane, Calla finds herself imprisoned by the Searchers, her lifelong enemies. When the Searchers end up being much different than expected, Calla must decide whether it's worth the risk of trusting them in order to save her pack. She must also decide if her allegiance belongs to Shay, the man who escaped with her, or Ren, the one she left behind.

WOLFSBANE was a somewhat predictable and dragging sequel that still left me interested enough to keep reading. In this installment, the reader learns a great deal more about the Searchers, the Keepers, and the Guardians and how they're all connected to one another across centuries of warfare. Certain new characters added to the developing story, and the action scenes really moved the story along in the second half. Cremer also again integrated serious themes into her story about important issues like belongingness, choice, war, and how authority can influence and oppress people.

Though these good things could have combined to make a great book, they frustratingly did not. More than 200 pages were spent awkwardly dumping information on the reader, and the sheer number of new characters and roles became confusing. The new people were then often characterized using clich├ęs. Repeated scenarios to reinforce the idea of a new human "pack" also felt redundant. Because of all this, the book was very slow to start.

Character development also faltered. Calla and Shay both act in unbelievable ways regarding each other and those around them. Their previously egalitarian relationship disappears, and both love interests act in ways that made it difficult to root for either guy, especially Ren. Calla also continues to not act like the alpha we're told she is; she does a lot of telling about her warrior and alpha attributes but she doesn't show them. Instead, there was too much reliance on teeth baring and snarling to make the Guardians seem fierce. Flowery prose also bogged down much of the story, and I noticed a few plot holes. One major plot twist was predicted too easily, and the book then finished with an unsatisfying cliffhanger.

Even though WOLFSBANE was disappointing in many ways, I'm still looking forward to see what happens as the trilogy wraps up in [b:Bloodrose|8130839|Bloodrose (Nightshade, #3)|Andrea Cremer|http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51zsbjF4TZL._SL75_.jpg|12926604]. I'm hoping that Cremer takes some major risks regarding the resolution, especially the love triangle, and that she brings some of the social and political issues to the forefront.