Taken by Storm by Jennifer Lynn Barnes – Review

Book Jacket:

Bryn knows first-hand that being the alpha of a werewolf pack means making hard decisions, and that being human makes things a thousand times worse. She’s prepared to give up her humanity, but the wolf who promised to Change her is waiting – though for what, Bryn doesn’t know.

Still human, she must take her place in the werewolf Senate, the precarious democracy that rules the North American packs. Standing side by side with werewolves who were ancient long before she was ever born is enough of a challenge, but Bryn soon learns that the Senate has been called to deal with a problem: the kind of problem that involves human bodies, a Rabid werewolf, and memories that Bryn, Chase, and the rest of their pack would rather forget. With bodies stacking up and political pressure closing in from all sides, Bryn and her pack are going to have to turn to old enemies and even older friends for help – especially when it starts to look like this time, the monster might be one of their own.


If you’ve ever heard Stephenie Meyer talk about Breaking Dawn, you’ve probably heard her mention Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice as one of her main sources of inspiration, in that she wanted to write a story where the battle would be mental, where it was a game of manuevering and strategy. After I finished Taken By Storm, I couldn’t help but think: Stephenie Meyer, eat your heart out. Now THAT’S what I call a story about mental battles, about strategy and maneuvering. Taken By Storm is an intelligent, emotionally wrenching story that makes for one heck of an ending to this series.

In so many respects, this book is just…ballsy. Barnes dares to blatantly defy a major convention of the genre – I saw it coming a mile away, and I was absolutely prepared to hate it, so you can imagine my complete and utter surprise when I found myself loving it. I seriously loved it, not only because the story just dared to go there, but because Barnes laid so much groundwork leading up to that moment – and I really can’t get into it without spoilers, so let me just say, the personal ramifications for Brynn, in how it brought together the conflicts of her world, her choices, and her responsibilities, and how it made her pay such a very, very high price – oh, I loved it. And once again, can I just say how very much I LOVE that Brynn is so much more than just A Girl In Love With A Boy – her life has so much more to it than that, and let’s face it, that’s a rare thing to find in paranormal YA these days. And that aforementioned big, convention-defying moment – it’s a wow. Even though I knew it was coming, it still absolutely eviscerated me, and for me it absolutely made this book.

Now I did at times find myself getting a little annoyed at Brynn – her endless ruminations of guilt were a bit repetitive, a la Harry Dresden, and there were two moments where she so blatantly missed (or ignored) the obvious that I wanted to smack her – but all in all I just can’t help but love Brynn for her tenacity. She’s a human in a werewolf world – a teenage girl responsible for the lives of so many – and she has to face down Alphas who not only could kill her so very easily, but who clearly are dying for an opportunity to do so, and there’s Brynn, armed with nothing other than brains, sheer determination and force of personality. Brynn is SMART, tough, and not afraid to hit back, all the while being indisputably the weakest person in the room, and I loved her for it. This story in particular takes Brynn to her limit – all her worst fears come into play, on so many levels, and she has to learn that there is no shame in being afraid, that fear doesn’t make her weak, on the contrary it makes her strong. Now that’s what I call a strong female character.

I’ll admit I was downright surprised by how short this book was (I believe the e-book came in around 200 pages or so) and I found myself wondering how on earth Barnes could pack a satisfying conclusion to her series into so few pages – but trust me, she does. I have to admit, I was dubious at first – not only because of the low page count, and because of the Thing Which Shall Not Be Spoiled, but also because the Supernatural Menace felt a bit underwhelming, rather like a convenient boogey-man, to me. But then, as the story unfolded, it just all came together brilliantly – the ties into Brynn’s past, the sudden left turn the plot takes, the final reveal of the machinations behind it all – this story isn’t playing checkers, it’s playing chess, and the fact that it managed to pull it off made me so very, very happy. If this does turn out to be the last book in the Raised By Wolves series (and Barnes won’t completely rule out the possibility of writing a book four someday), I think it makes for an utterly satisfying conclusion.

All in all, I have to say, of all the paranormal YA werewolf stories out there, this series is hands down my favorite. I’m sorry to see it go (if this is in fact the end), but this is still one author I plan on following for a very long time to come. Whatever Jennifer Lynn Barnes does next, I’ll be reading it.

Byrt Grade: A

As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

Just Booking Around says:

A vivid, wrenching, entirely worthy conclusion to an excellent trilogy…There will almost certainly be a few points at which you will beg, “Don’t let it end like this!” Almost certainly a few to the tune of, “Is there honestly a way out of this?” Wordless exclamations are also not inappropriate at many spots.