Friday, May 10, 2013

Series Review: Alpha & Omega by Patricia Briggs (#0.5 & 1)

If you've been noticing lately, I've gone through a bit of a Patrica Briggs binge. In fact, a "bit" is a major understatement. I recently reviewed the first couple of Mercy Thompson novels (HERE) and moved on promptly to the spin-off series, Alpha and Omega. Now, having finished it, I can honestly admit to liking this spin-off even more than the original.

Title: Alpha & Omega (A&O, #0.5) 

Author: Patricia Briggs

Rating: 4 Stars

Without a doubt, Alpha & Omega surprised me. For one, I wasn't expecting this prequel novella to be so integral to the plot line of this series. I actually only picked it up before Cry Wolf because I was in the mood for something shorter at first, but very quickly, I realized that Alpha & Omega is, in fact, a must-read before beginning this series. And what a beginning it is. 

Alpha & Omega begins with Anna, a submissive in her Chicago pack, phoning Bran to report that she saw a local missing boy being tortured by her pack alpha, Leo. For those of us who have read Moon Called, the torture of the missing boy in question is no surprise and the story line quickly begins to fall into place. Charles, the enforcer/assassin and son of Bran flies into Chicago, intent on investigating the strange doings of the Chicago pack. What he doesn't count on, however, is being instantly attracted to Anna when she greets him at the airport. Even more surprising, though, is that his wolf quickly claims Anna as his mate, but Anna's past may be darker than Charles anticipated and their mating not quite as easy as he plans. 

What I loved about Alpha & Omega, right off the bat, was Anna. Mercy and Anna are as different as heroines can come, but that doesn't make Anna any less fierce, strong, or brave. If anything, she is more. Anna, unlike most wolves, was changed into a werewolf without her consent and then told that she was a submissive in the pack. Just to add insult to injury, Leo, the alpha, passed Anna around like a whore to be brutalized by dominant wolves. As we soon find out, there is a reason for this disgusting behavior, but that doesn't change the fact that Anna is fearful of men, and dominant wolves in particular. 

Charles, as we all know by now, is as dominant as they come. Yet, being the only werewolf to be born in his wolf form, he is different from most. Although it is his wolf that first recognizes Anna as his mate - and his protective instincts kick in almost immediately - he slowly begins to care for Anna as a person too. Underneath her rigid and fearful exterior, he sees the inner strength that has kept Anna alive for three years as a wolf and he appreciates what she is. Moreover, he recognizes that she is no submissive, but an Omega, or one who obeys no dominant wolf and instead brings peace to those around her. 

Despite the fact that Alpha & Omega is a short novel, we are able to become thoroughly invested in the sweet romance at play here. Of course, it reads much like love-at-first-sight, but the undercurrents of deeper affection are easily felt. Even more so, our two leads, Anna and Charles, come into their own and become just as important and interesting as Mercy or Adam are as well. Furthermore, I loved the mystery of unraveling what had happened to the Chicago pack. It was different from the usual cases that Briggs has written and had much darker undertones, but perhaps I enjoyed it all the more because of that. Or maybe it was just the length - intriguing, short, and a quick conclusion without long and drawn-out details. Either way, Alpha & Omega is the perfect hook to what promises to be an excellent spin-off series and if you go into this expecting a quick read, you'll likely surprise yourself by scrambling to get your hands on Cry Wolf very quickly after.  

Title: Cry Wolf (A&O, #1) 

Author: Patricia Briggs

Rating: 3 Stars

For some reason, I thought I'd enjoy Cry Wolf a little more than I did. Alpha & Omega had me completely - hook, line, and sinker - for this spin-off series and even with such a short novella, I already felt invested in the lives of Anna and Charles. As such, it came as a surprise to find that, at the end, I only just liked this book. It wasn't mind-blowing and it certainly wasn't on par to Iron Kissed or Bone Crossed, but I have high hopes for the next two installments. Patricia Briggs has not disappointed me yet and I doubt she's planning to start now.

Cry Wolf picks up directly where we left off in Alpha & Omega with Anna adjusting to life in a new pack as Charles heals. Very quickly, however, Bran sends the two off to deal with a rogue wolf in the woods. As it turns out, however, there is more at stake than just a rogue wolf Charles and Anna may find themselves facing something - or someone - they are wholly unprepared for.

What Cry Wolf excels in, just as its predecessor did, is the characterization of Anna. I really enjoyed the balance that was reached both within her inner strengths and her outer weaknesses. At times, Anna can be a difficult character to understand, especially with the dual narration from both her perspective and that of Charles, but all-in-all, I couldn't find fault with her growth throughout this book. Charles, on the other hand, though kind and full of good intent, was ever-so-slightly irritating. For someone who has lived on this planet for nearly two centuries, he acted completely immature when it came to his relationship with Anna. At times, I wasn't sure who was more insecure - Anna or Charles - and Charles has no excuse, really. 

Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the banter, mood swings, and creeping relationship between these two. Where Cry Wolf lost me, unfortunately, was in its mystery. Although it was very different from the norm and it pleasantly surprised me with its originality, I felt as if it dragged too much. I kept waiting for it to get over sooner for it didn't keep my attention or prove how high the stakes were really raised. I suspect part of this has to do with the fact that Cry Wolf takes place before Bone Crossed, the last MT novel I read, and I already know that these characters turn out to be fine, but if the ending hadn't left me feeling so relieved, I would have definitely enjoyed this one more. Nevertheless, Anna and Charles are a charming set of new leads, ones to rival my love for Mercy and Adam (Actually, who am I kidding? NO ONE rivals Adam. Except maybe Curran. Possibly.) and Cry Wolf, while not impressing me, has be thirsting for its sequel already. At the rate she's going, I have to presume that Patricia Briggs doesn't know the words "disappointment" at all. And I am so glad she doesn't.  

14 comments:

  1. Good banter is always a plus! Sad the next book didn't outdo the other. I've, admittedly, never read a werewolf book. The closest I've ever gotten is Twilight. I tend to choose vampires over werewolves like Morganville and such. One of these days, I'll try one :) Great reviews!

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  2. Ah, yes, Cry Wolf was a bit of a disappointment, but I felt that Briggs more than made up for it later. I really like Anna and how she handles Charles, and although their can be considered an instalove, I love how they took it slow in some ways even while they were racing in others.
    I just recently reread (re-listened) all three books and the prequel (Holter Graham is one of the best narrators out there) and enjoyed them even more the second time.
    Mercy 8 is next, but I really can't wait for another Anna & Charles book.
    Great review!

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  3. Wow I love it when you go on a series splurge Keertana, especially for one that I haven't read yet as it makes me even more eager to get my hands on a copy. I love it how Alpha & Omega was such a short story, but carried more depth and had you more invested than Cry Wolf. I'm glad you're still enjoying this series. Fab reviews! ::)

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  4. I see you are really enjoying Patricia's books these days. Like I said they're not familiar to me but I guess that I'll get to read them too as they sound amazing. For this series I like the sound of it. Also that novella sounds really great. I'm so sad that Cry Wolf was a disappointment but I really hope that the next books in the series will shine! :) Great reviews :)

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  5. Anna sounds like a very interesting character - I wasn't sure, but when I first read the book summary, I thought she could be a doormat, but your review helps me see that she's strong and resilient. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Keertana!

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  6. Ah!! You don't know how excited it makes me to hear you say that you enjoy this series EVEN MORE than Mercy! I have the novella sitting next to me atm, and I really can't wait to pick it up (curse you reading obligations...have at least 2 others to read first). Anna's situation sounds like it will freaking BREAK MY HEART, but having Charles in the picture practically makes me clap with excited anticipation. Hopefully be picking this one up in about a week or so!

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  7. I'm currently making my way through Mercy on audio, and really loving it. It's hard to imagine characters coming close to Mercy and Adam, but I'm so happy to hear you enjoy these enough to declare that you like the spinoff more than the original so far. I clearly have many more amazing Patricia Briggs books ahead of me! Great review :-)

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  8. I've been eying this review for a while now and avoiding it but I caved and read it! Darn you. Now I want to go out and get this book (well, novella and book) too! It's interesting that you liked the novella more than the first book. Anna sounds like a great character and I can't wait to meet Charles!

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  9. I haven't read any urban fantasy, not that I can think of, but I just might have to give the genre a try. Especially, after your stunning reviews when it comes to patricia briggs. Great review, Keertana! I hope you enjoy the sequel! :D

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  10. I really need to pick up a Patricia Briggs novel, but now I'm wondering if I should start with this series or The Mercy Thompson one. Seriously, Keertana, you're overloading my TBR!! Lovely reviews. :)

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  11. I seemed to have felt the same way about Cry Wolf. I didn't love it, that's for sure. I may have even given it two stars, I don't recall. I did enjoy the next book more and LOVED the one after that.

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  12. Wow, more than Mercy?? Cry Wolf was 3 stars for me too, but the series does pick up. I know Briggs said Fair Game was her favorite book but for me, my heart is firmly in the Mercyverse. I just love everyone in the Pack + Stefan so much. I'll definitely keep reading this series though b/c Patricia Briggs is amazing, but I CRAVE Mercy + Adam.

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  13. Okay I cannot even try to keep up with you! I still need to read the Kate Daniels series, before I think about this one. BUT I definitely have this author on my radar and want to read the Mercy Thomas series before this one. But what I read of your review, these sound great. It is also important to have a heroine that you like. I also really like heroines who are underestimated at first, so that you get to see their strength come through.

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