Kelley Armstrong‘s most recent
novel, No Humans Involved
achieved mainstream bestseller status, and movie rights have been purchased for some of her works. I plan eventually to review the entire series. It begins with this novel, Armstong’s take on lycanthropy.

Title: Bitten

Author: Kelley Armstrong
ISBN: 978-0452286030
First published: 2001

Available from Amazon.com
and
Amazon.ca

Premise:

The Pack summons Elena, the world’s lone female werewolf, to assist with a mystery that threatens their kind.

High Point:

Armstrong has developed an extensive backstory for her werewolves. She treats her fictional world as though it were a real one. The characters have personal histories and lives and a culture distinct to werewolves. Shared and personal histories shape the relationships and the characters and the development of the plot….

Low Point:

….More often than I felt necessary, however, she explains that backstory with lengthy exposition, rather than the more effective revisiting of the characters’ pasts that we see at other times. Long-running series can suffer from the weight of an accumulated backstory; I found it curious to see this such an accumulation already present in Armstrong’s first novel.

The Scores:

Originality: 4/6. Armstrong apparently set out to do for werewolves what Rice did for vampires, and she has an original take on the legend– one
which most of us know through Universal Studio’s version.

Imagery: 5/6 “When I look around, the world has mutated to an array of colors unknown to the human eye, blacks and browns and grays with subtle shadings that my brain still converts to blues and greens and reds. I lift my nose and inhale… I pick up scents of fresh asphalt and rotting tomatoes and window-pot mums and day-old sweat….(3)”

Story: 5/6. Armstrong tells an interesting tale, marked by a number of conflicts. The High and Low points both address story.

Characterization: 5/6. With Elena, the sole female werewolf and the novel’s protagonist, Armstrong has created a memorable character, trapped between
lifestyles.

Emotional Response: 5/6. I could sympathize with the Pack or at least understand their motives, and the romance conventions and sex scenes which I found somewhat forced and distracting in Armstrong’s most recent book, No Humans Involved, seemed natural in this story.

Editing: 4/6.

Overall score: 5/6

In total, Bitten receives 33/42