Bitten - Kelley Armstrong "If a werewolf behaved like this psychopath it wouldn't be because he was part animal, but because he was still too human"

Elena Michaels seems to be your average 30-ish woman. She has a great job, great boyfriend, and great apartment. The problem is, she is also a werewolf and leads a secret double life of sorts. When Jeremy, the leader of the Pack she left over a year ago, calls her and asks her to return to Stonehaven, Elena has no choice but to follow his call. But the ghosts of why she left and the mysterious wolf-ish deaths in Bear Valley threaten to change everything.

I love urban fantasy, but, surprisingly, I'm not a huge fan of werewolf urban fantasy. I say "surprisingly", because, if you look at a list of my top favs in the Urban Fantasy genre, you would see Mercy Thompson and now Armstrong's "Bitten" at the top of the list.

However, I think it's easy to see why "Bitten" is on the top of that list. Kelley Armstrong, who wrote the Young Adult Urban Fantasy series, Darkest Powers (which I love, love, LOVE), has a lot going for her. She creates amazing, realistic characters and a great world.

The cast is fantastic. From our protagonists, Elena and Clay (and others), to our villains, Marsten and Daniel (and others), the characters feel real and unique. Elena was wonderful. I loved how she was a strong, independent woman, without losing her femininity. She didn't need to love pink to be a girl, but she also wasn't rushing headlong into situations, only to be saved by the brawny male at the end. She was more than capable of fighting on her own, using her brain, and generally, being bad @$$.

Often times, in first person novels, if the protagonist/viewpoint character is good, the others are generally blase. Not here. Jeremy was a great character, and I had a lot of respect for him. I may not have been a huge Clay fan, but I did understand how he behaved, how much he cared for Elena, and how he tried. And damn, were the scenes with Clay and Elena steamy!! WHEW! Summer has arrived! Philip, who wasn't a major character, garnered my sympathy, I was really hoping that the Pack wouldn't have to kill Marstens, and so on and so forth. The characters felt unique and not barely disguised clones.

The world that Armstrong has created in "Bitten" is absolutely fascinating. There is a quote on the book stating that Armstrong's "Bitten" does for werewolves as Rice's "Interview with a Vampire" did for vampires, and I have to agree. I love how Armstrong really made the wolfish tendencies prevalent, from how the werewolves rough-housed (really clever!) to their appetites and even to how they hunt and have hunter's instincts. I thought it was clever, well-thought out and very interesting, and, even though I am not a werewolf fan, I would definitely check into more of this series just to see more of this world that Armstrong has. (In fact, I plan on doing just that--I've bought the next three books in the series!)

The story itself is a bit generic/stereotypical. A werewolf is killing people near Stonehaven, and the Pack must discover who it is and root them out before it discloses their secret. For some reason, this really didn't bug me. I think it was a great introduction to a series/character, and it definitely led to some good world-building. I did think Jeremy's ability to speak to his Pack in their sleep via a telepathy of sorts was revealed too late in the story and felt like a patch to make the story come together. I also wasn't fond of how, in the end, Elena tended to throw herself into dangerous situations. But in Elena's and the author's defense, I will say it was appropriate given A) Elena's character and B) what was happening elsewhere in the story (no spoilers!). So yeah, I've seen it a lot, but Armstrong made it make sense and didn't make it so that Elena had to be saved by someone else.

This book was so much fun to read, that I eagerly look forward to continuing the series with Stolen and seeing what happens next in Elena and the Women of the Othereworld's life. If you like urban fantasy, werewolves, and smart women who are really smart and not just wrapped up in "smart" clothes, then pick this up!!

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence: Some f-bombs and milder swears. A few fairly discrete sex scenes. Lots of ripping of throats and chases and gun fights.