For the first of my A. E. Reads: Book Reviews, I read Bitten, Kelley Armstrong’s 2001 debut novel. I originally read it when it first came out, and loved it.
Bitten is about Elena Michaels, an adult werewolf who is determined to live in the human society, to be as “normal” as possible. She does her best to strictly separate the two parts of her, the human side, who is a journalist for a popular newspaper and lives with her boyfriend, and the werewolf side, who needs to change into a wolf regularly, and has a werewolf lover. That all comes into question when the Pack’s leader, the Alpha Jeremy calls that he needs her help, forcing Elena to decide, to choose. Can she play pretend that she’s human or can she accept her wolf side?
Bitten’s strengths are definitely in character. The book is in first-person, and the story is told only in the view of Elena Michaels. The reader is completely seeing the world through Elena’s eyes. Armstrong made Elena a real person, someone you could imagine meeting on the street in real life.
Bitten’s main weakness is the heavy reliance on telling. The majority of information the reader gets about Elena’s past and the Pack and other Pack characters, it’s all told with Elena thinking about it, and explaining the history. This ends up with a few sections of pages of Elena thinking, and there’s no scene, just describing what happened in the past. The only good thing about this is that it’s written in an interesting and engaging way, which is only because of how well done Elena’s character is.
This is a good book, and it’s great as a debut novel. I really like it, but because of its use of telling rather than showing, I give it four and a half stars rather than a full five. I think if readers enjoy the adult side of living as a werewolf, then Bitten is the book to read.