Bitten is more than just a werewolf book. Yes, it follows the story of a werewolf named Elena and the trials and tribulations of her pack. There’s plenty of action and sex. But what is so exceptional about this book is the complex emotions invoked by our main character.
Elena never wanted to be werewolf. She had a miserable childhood, shuffling through the foster system, enduring horrific abuse. She survived, clinging to the idea that she could make a normal life for herself; grow up and create the kind of family she never had. But in college, her fiance Clay, took away her dream of normalcy, when he bit her and turned her into werewolf. That was about a decade ago and she still hasn’t forgiven him. Instead, she’s abandoned her pack and started a new life. She hides what she is and works to pass herself off a normal woman, especially to her live-in boyfriend, Phillip.
But she is forced to return to the pack when her alpha, Jeremy, calls her for help. There is a rogue wolf in pack territory and they need Elena to help sniff him out. Clay is there, making matters more complicated. And as the story progresses and the rogue-wolf plot becomes more dangerous and deadly, we see Elena fighting the pack, Clay, and herself and she tries to figure out where she truly fits in.
Armstrong makes it easy to see both sides of Elena’s warring emotions. The hurt and resentment for Clay is understandable in the context of her horrific life. Yet, at the same time, it’s so apparent that these two have something epic between them. Clay loves her so much, and that is even more meaningful when compared with how little he values almost anyone else. Elena and Jeremy are his whole world. And it’s clear that no matter how hurt Elena was by his bite, her heart will never be free of him. He is an undeniable part of her. Her relationship with Jeremy is almost as fascinating. She is so insecure about his feelings as he remains inscrutable. He gives her orders that on some levels feel cruel, but when you look more closely, you can understand why he makes the decisions he does. And even if it’s not clear to her, it’s clear to me, that he loves her.
Elena’s relationship with Phillip definitely muddies the waters. It’s hard not to be a little turned off that she jumps from his bed to Clay’s without a shred of guilt. I suppose that shows where her heart lies, but it paints her in an unflattering light. Armstrong makes no bones that Elena is far from perfect, but perhaps that makes her a better heroine.
There is a lot of action in the book. Several people die and not just fringe-characters. I thought the story arc was exciting and took some unexpected directions, which I enjoyed quite a bit. This was a great introduction to the Otherworld series.
4 1/2 stars
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Bittenby Kelley ArmstrongRelease Date: September 2001Publisher: Viking Press