Release Date: June 14, 2011
(I got my ARC from the RT Convention.)
Published by: EgmontUSA
There can only be one alpha.
Bryn is finally settling into her position as alpha of the Cedar Ridge Pack—or at least, her own version of what it means to be alpha when you’re a human leading a band of werewolves. Then she finds a teenage boy bleeding on her front porch. Before collapsing, he tells her his name is Lucas, he’s a Were, and Bryn’s protection is his only hope.
But Lucas isn’t part of Bryn’s pack, and she has no right to claim another alpha’s Were. With threats—old and new—looming, and danger closing in from all sides, Bryn will have to accept what her guardian Callum knew all along. To be alpha, she will have to give in to her own animal instincts and become less human. And, she’s going to have to do it alone.
Bryn faces both the costs, and the rewards, of love and loyalty, in this thrilling sequel to Raised by Wolves.
1. (+) Bryn, the protagonist - She's a strong, female protagonist who holds her own even in a male-dominated world. Automatic respect from me. Also, even though she has a bit the self-sacrificing quality that too many YA protagonists now seem to have, hers works since she's the alpha and needs that to be a good leader. And she feels realistic--her desire to actually be a werewolf rather than the fragile human alpha is palpable.
2. (+) Not Exclusive - By this, I mean that I haven't read Raised by Wolves and I was still able to read, understand, and enjoy Trial by Fire. Many sequels don't do this, but this one exceeded expectations, and because of the references Bryn makes to her past, I want to read Raised by Wolves. I especially want to know more about Callum and Bryn's relationship.
3. (+) The Romance - While I was reading, I was happy because Bryn and Chase hadn't said they loved each other. They had an intense relationship, but they didn't jump into proclaiming their love like other YA characters. And then they did.... Despite this, the romance was still one of the compelling elements of this novel, because not only was it intense and well-suited to Bryn and Chase, it also furthered character development and wasn't overwhelming the main plot. The only other snag was that I didn't quite believe the other side romance, which I won't name for fear of spoiling the novel.
4. (+) Compelling Relationships - As alpha, Bryn knows every member of her pack well, and this relationship lent to an exploration of their times together. It made me more interested and vested in the characters, and I particularly loved the back and forth dialogue, the way they knew each other enough that it was hard to keep any secrets. Also, as I said earlier, I want to read more about Callum and Bryn. Though Callum is not in Bryn's pack, the way they interact in this novel is fraught with tension and love. I think it's the most compelling of the relationships.
5. (+) The World Building - I'm sure Ms. Barnes did more of this in Raised by Wolves but I still enjoyed learning about Pack law, Bryn's Resilience, and the Werewolf Senate. To be honest, of all creatures, I dislike werewolves the most, but the world Ms. Barnes created is one well worth your attention.
6. (+) The Writing - The writing was fluid and made the novel fast-paced and fun to read. It was easy to slip into Bryn's world.
7. (+) The Ending - Depite all the trials Bryn faces, I didn't see one of them coming despite the clus Ms. Barnes laid. Altogether, it was a very surprising but enjoyable ending.
8. (+) The Villain - Because I haven't read Raised by Wolves, I don't know the exact details of how Bryn pissed off the (main) villain in this book... But the villain is clever and throws so many trials at Bryn that it made me want to keep reading and see the resolution, however unexpected. Even though his appearances are limited, the threat he poses to Bryn is well-established throughout the book. As a definitely flawed character, the villain also didn't strike me as the typical storybook villain. I'm sure we haven't seen the end of his antics.
9. (--) Lesser Characters - The characters who weren't with Bryn daily--the peripherals, for instance--felt under-developed. I, for one, was surprised to even find out that there were peripherals in Bryn's pack.
10. (--) The Cover - I'm not sure that cover does any good for the novel. If I saw on the stands, it wouldn't attract my attention. The red is good for Bryn's Resilience, but other than that, it's just another girl standing there in the typical YA pose. She doesn't even look as strong as Bryn is.
Once I get some money in my bank account, I'm going to buy Raised by Wolves. Trial by Fire was a well-written thriller packed with compelling characters and twisted situations that kept me hooked till the end... A werewolf series that I'd surprisingly recommend.
(Also, I read somewhere that Jennifer Lynn Barnes writes her novels in 19 days. And good novels at that. I wish I had her talent.)