Stolen by Kelley Armstrong
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Stolen was nothing like I expected. Well, I wasn't sure what to expect, actually. Ms. Armstrong expanded the world she created in Bitten, to encompass other paranormal beings, adding witches, sorcerers, demons, and vampires to the mix. I liked how it was very much in the mode of realistic and everyday. The origins of these beings are not clearly stated, but speculated on. She doesn't ascribe good or bad characteristics to them overall, other than the sorcerers tendency to be more on the bad side, mostly due to the bad blood between them and witches.
This ended up being a slowly-unfolding, but at the same time, intense read. There seemed to be a strong underlying theme to this story about the necessity of violence. Accordingly, there's quite a bit of violence, most of it warranted, as Elena and the other paranormal beings she becomes acquainted with find themselves fighting for their lives and freedom. There's also some violence that made me squirm. Some of the actions of Elena, Clay, and Jeremy fall very much in the moral gray area, if you were to consider them human beings, with the ascribed moral absolutes that go along with humanity. However, they are not humans--they are werewolves, and their actions tend to show that aspect of their natures. Even still, Elena, Clay, and Jeremy are different in their approaches to situations. Jeremy is the most self-controlled--his actions governed by reason and what is best for the Pack. Elena is more likely to help others who are not Pack. Clay thinks only of his mate, Elena, and the Pack. Nothing else matters to him. He'll take care of others to make Elena happy. But, otherwise, he wouldn't go out of his way to do something that didn't benefit the Pack. In essence, Clay is pure wolf, even though he walks in human skin. As a whole, they kill, and it's more out of expedience at times, than an absolute need to do so. But, Elena doesn't make excuses for her actions. She admits that there would be another way, but this way turns out to be the best for the circumstance. While a part of me was somewhat troubled by these killings, I couldn't escape the reality of the fact that those that Elena, Jeremy, and Clay killed were men and women who had showed a lack of respect and value for the lives of the paranormal beings they had stalked, kidnapped and held captive. And, faced with the villain in this story, it's clear what is worse: to kill out of necessity, or to kill for the fun of it. Tyrone Winslow is a geeky, billionaire computer genius who decided that he likes the idea of a real life death match in which he makes the paranormals run for their lives, with no sure chance of escape. Why? Because he's a megalomaniac, craving power, and even in the most petty ways. Because it's fun for him, and because he can. He came off as petty and completely objectionable, showing how loathesome he was in his power struggles with Elena, and how he interacted with his employees at the place where they were imprisoning the paranormals. For all my qualms about the killing of people in this book, I didn't feel too bad for him when Elena and Clay turned the tables on him. He got his just deserts.
Stolen introduces the witch characters Paige and Savannah, who will play major roles in this series. I must say my interest was perked, and I do look forward to reading their stories. However, the highlight of this story was seeing Clay and Elena, and their relationship. Clay would do just about anything for Elena. His love is powerful and steadfast. And in this story, you can see that Elena does love him just as much, whereas in Bitten, she was running from that feeling and trying to avoid acknowledging that she loved Clay. They just felt right together. Jeremy was fascinating, and there was tantalizing bits of him in this story that make me want to see more of him.
Stolen was a book that took some investment on my part to read. But it turned out to be worth the time spent. It wasn't quite as fascinating to me as Bitten, and I'm not sure why. But I did like seeing the development of Elena. She seemed more multi-faceted in this story. I saw more of her humor, and her emotional depth that I didn't quite see in Bitten. Although slow-moving at times, this was a good follow-up to Bitten.
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