I think that one of the fascinations of transformative “monster” stories like werewolves, vampires, Frankenstein, etc, is that it gives readers and writers the chance to explore the question of what it means to be human, and what it means to be “monster,” or even just “animal.” What really separates us from the animals? (I hope it’s more than accessories, because that puts me really far down on the evolutionary scale).
In Bitten, Clay is not your typical hero. His animal/monster side is far more prevalent and less principled than your typical hero and it scares the crap out of Elena, with good reason. Exactly what Clay is capable of, turns out to be the question that Elena has to answer with her heart – and it's really not one for a delicate flower of a woman. Good thing Elena has more substance to her than that.
At the opening of the book, Elena is working very hard to live what she perceives to be a normal life, in a normal apartment with a normal job and a normal guy. Fake it ‘til you make it. She’s almost there… but the gap is killing her.
As he sits on the edge of the bed, watching me, I know we’re doomed. My only hope is to make this relationship so otherwise perfect that Philip might come to overlook our one insurmountable problem. To do that, my first step should be to go to him, crawl in bed, kiss him and tell him I love him. But I can’t. Not tonight. Tonight I’m something else, something he doesn’t know and couldn’t understand. I don’t want to go to him like this.
“I’m not tired,” I say. “I might as well stay up. Do you want breakfast?”
He looks at me. Something in his expression falters and I know I’ve failed-- again. But he doesn’t say anything. He pulls his smile back in place. “Let’s go out. Someplace in this city has got to be open this early. We’ll drive around until we find it. Drink five cups of coffee and watch the sun come up. Okay?”
I nod, not trusting myself to speak.
“Shower first?” he says. “Or flip for it?”
“You go ahead.”
He kisses my cheek as he passes. I wait until I hear the shower running, then head for the kitchen.
Sometimes I get so hungry.”
You don’t have to be a werewolf to understand Elena’s feelings here. This passage packs an emotional wallop, and located as it is, just at the end of a short prologue, sets the stage in an electrifying way.
The mystery about who’s killing who and why and how is nicely done but I’ll admit that I got a little bored with it about 3/4s through, because that’s when things between Elena and Clay started to heat up, and that was the stuff I was really interested in. If it were a movie, it would be a great date movie: there’s something here for everyone – action, mystery, violence, sex, tension of all kinds, and a kick-ass romance, and a few themes to get you talking over dinner or drinks afterwards while the love scenes are still fresh in your mind. ;)
I'd like to talk more about Clay and Elena here, but I think we'd all be better served if you just go out and read it. You won't regret it!
Elsewhere on the web:
- Phil agrees that the romance is a strong element, but calls that a disadvantage, heh.
- A shortie by Gina (and I'm intrigued by her blog, I'm headed back to poke around in there).
- Bella is a huge fan, but you'll have to brace yourself for the puns ("a howling good read").
- Check out Armstrong's own site for lots of eExtras and good information. Definitely one of the better author sites out there.
- Buy it!
*If you have reviewed Bitten on your blog, feel free to leave a link in comments!