Here it is. Bloodrose, the last book in the Nightshade trilogy, and its last chance for redemption. Our reviews of the last two books in the Nightshade series have essentially ended the same way - with the wish, the hope, the expectation that the next book will be better. That it will allow the series and characters to live up to all their potential. Well, now we've read Bloodrose, and we can finally say without a doubt...
That never happened.
In fact, shit got worse.
We'll start with Calla, because Calla has given us the most trouble throughout the series. In fact, above, when we say we want "the characters" to live up to their potential, we really mean Calla. We've been waiting for her for THREE BOOKS NOW to take the reins and become the leader, the strong heroine, that she's supposed to be, and well, we were disappointed. Deeply, deeply disappointed.
She gave us hope, though. At the start of the book, Calla has a brief, crowning moment of awesome: after resolving the last book's cliffhanger by bringing Ren over to the Searcher's side and introducing him to them as a new ally, they naturally run into Shay before Calla has a chance to break the news gently. Being the ill-tempered children that Alpha werewolves in this genre typically are, the two almost immediately start fighting. Over Calla.
Naturally, Calla is informed that it is HER RESPONSIBILITY to put an end to this, and after a brief moment of panic, boy does she. For the first time in perhaps the entire series, Calla puts her foot down with Ren and Shay, declaring that she will not choose between them until the war is over, and that they're going to have to just suck it up and get along until then.
This is fantastic. Sure, it's a blatant excuse to delay resolving the triangle until the end of the book, but at least Calla's asserting herself here, which is something we've been waiting for. After books of waffling, of wanting whoever is nearest, we were proud of Calla for making a decision that she'd stick to, even if that decision was "I'll choose later".
The shine pretty quickly wears off, though. Despite seemingly handling her romantic situation well, it seems like Calla's proposed truce has the unfortunate result of preventing her from playing any sort of important leadership role in the war herself.
She basically tells Ren and Shay that she is their Alpha, and that she needs them to be her soldiers for the war. To mollify to poor boys' fragile little egos and keep them from fighting with each other, she tells Shay that he is to coordinate with the Searchers, and Ren that he is to be in control of the pack and make decisions for them. When they ask Calla what she will be doing, she simply says, "I am the one that makes sure we all get along."
Really Calla? Is this this the role you've envisioned for yourself in the werewolf war? You get to keep your boyfriends from killing each other so that they can do important things? WHAT HAPPENED TO WEREWOLF MOSES?
Still, at least she asserted her will over her love life right? Um, yeah, not so much, because that aspect of the truce gets fucked up almost immediately. Not long after she establishes her new resolution, she and the boys have another fight, this one so bad that Calla uses violence with the boys to make her point. She tells them again that it's not a competition, and that they don't need to vie for her because she's not going to choose.
And then she immediately goes to Shay's room to make up with him. They end up having sex.
Because you see, Calla's "refusal to choose" is actually just a ruse to keep Ren around and involved in the fight. Calla has actually supposedly chosen Shay - or at least, that's what she tells him - and is just putting off letting Ren in on this until the war is over. Apparently, Calla feels that without her or some other woman to fight for, she can't count on Ren's continued involvement.
We both feel a little differently about this particular point, so we're going to take turns speaking our piece.
Kayla: I am going to try and keep this short. No matter how you look at it, when someone writes a book, the main character is a role model. That is why we get so irritated with some characters that don’t live up to those standards. We are all about women being strong willed, making their own decisions, and doing things for themselves. These things make for a strong heroine and a good role model for women and teens everywhere.
Unfortunately, Calla lacks these very important characteristics completely.
But what we do get from her is something completely revolting to me. I really didn't like the way she handles herself with Ren and Shay, and the way she uses them. Though she tells them she won’t be making any decisions between them until the war is over, she still uses her sexuality to keep them where she wants them. With Ren, she does it to keep him around, and keep him thinking he still has a chance with her so he will stay and fight on her side, even though she has basically had already chosen Shay. And with Shay, she does it to keep him from getting his feelings hurt, and so that he knows that he is the one she wants. Because she really does care about him, so she should have sex with him so he knows that, right? /sarcasm
Seriously, is this the kind of thing we should be proud of? Either way you look at it, whether it's Ren or Shay, her actions are wrong. No woman should think so little of herself as to use her womanhood to persuade a man. It's simply wrong and disgusting! If you are going to make a decision to not choose between two men until the time is right, then don't go fucking around with both of them. Wait until it's time, make your decision, then have all the fun you want with the one you chose. This is just one of the decent ways to handle it. As a woman her actions offended, and infuriated me.
Cyna: I don't know how I wound up as defender of the Calla, but I don't really think of her as harshly as Kayla seems to. To me, Calla isn't intentionally manipulative so much as hopelessly confused and wishy-washy, and that's my problem with her. It seemed like, as it did in Nightshade, Calla just wanted whichever boy was nearest. When she was with Shay, she loved Shay forever and always, and when she was with Ren, she doubted Shay and longed for Ren's familiarity. And yeah, yeah, love triangle, that's all well and good for the first book, but this is the third. Calla's development in this department has just totally stalled - it had seemed like at the end of Wolfsbane, she'd finally settled on Shay, and that we might be moving past this conflict, and yet in Bloodrose's opening chapter, she's just as confused and torn as ever.
This bugs the crap out of me, for two reasons. One, it plays too much into the idea that women are inherently emotional, unstable creatures that can be easily overwhelmed by their feelings. Calla's emotions seem to change with the wind, and she is utterly incapable of keeping herself from physically acting on them when these men are within a certain proximity. I mean Christ, woman, you don't even approve of what you're doing - why are you still doing it?
Two, Calla's development is something that I've been waiting this whole series for. When she asserted herself with Shay and Ren, I thought that we'd finally gotten to the point where Calla would stand up for herself, would know her own mind, but no, she supposedly only stood up to them for Ren's benefit.
Plus, like two seconds later she's totally undermining herself and everything she said by deciding that she'd continue lying to Ren and sleep with Shay behind his back. It was so very disappointing, so lacking in integrity for Calla, and worse yet, such a huge step backwards. For the rest of the book, we're stuck with the same old wishy-washy, indecisive girl that we've been stuck with since Nightshade, and the most disappointing part is that this that never changes.
But we'll talk more about that when we get to the ending.
In some ways though, Bloodrose *was* the book that we'd been waiting for for. It's very action-based - most of the page count is devoted to the search for the Elemental Cross, and then after that the Final Fight for FREEDOM, so there were lots of things going on to distract us - and Calla - from her endless internal angsting...
Read more at You're Killing.Us