100 problems.

28 Oct

Here it is, kids!  My first shot at that book review game.  Feedback would be lovely!


In Stray, Rachel Vincent introduces her audience to the world of werecats.  Shape shifters.  Simply put: werewolves with an affinity for catnip.

Our hero, Faythe Sanders, is thrown into a world of violent strife in this premiere episode of Vincent’s Shifters series.  Her story begins when she catches the scent of, and is confronted by, a fellow werecat.  This antagonising feline, who is described as a Stray – a human who has been scratched or bitten by a werecat (in traditional werewolf fashion) – begins the plight of Faythe and her Pride – a collection of (mostly) born werecats, most of whom are related by blood.  Faythe is stringently protective of her independence and is not, at all, pleased when her run-in with this unknown Stray catalyses a string of events that land her back into the lap of the family she has worked hard to avoid for the past five years.

Throughout its 618 pages, Stray provides edge-of-your-seat action and adventure from the playful antics of a Pride of werecats hunting on the family ranch to the climax of the novel wherein the heroes confront the villains.  There are few dull moments.  There is, subsequently, also not a great deal of character evolution.  Vincent has endeavoured to begin not only a single tome, but an entire series by writing in the first person perspective, utilizing Faythe as her narrator.  This is a dangerous gamble and difficult to pull off.  Unfortunately, Faythe Sanders is a shallow character and does not inspire much affection.  It was difficult to feel drawn into her world, or her plight.  Vincent’s supplementary characters, too, show no real depth and seem to exist merely for the witty rapport, and sexual tension, that unites most of this tale’s players.

Vincent’s writing style is basic, but clean.  She peppers her narrative with contemporary, witty descriptors:

Strays have a distinctive scent, which is easily distinguished from that of a Pride-born cat.  It’s like the difference in taste between Coke and Pepsi: subtle if you never drink either, but unmistakable if you’re accustomed to one and suddenly confronted with a mouthful of the other. (Vincent 234.)

It was also refreshing, given the adult Urban Fantasy genre, to see a story that did not require a smattering of four letter words to make its point.  There were curses, throughout the pages of this story, but their numbers were not strong and the tale thrived without gratuitous vulgarity.

Overall, I did not thoroughly enjoy this novel.  Vincent’s writing did make me smile once or twice in its description and (sometimes) surprising wit, but the story arc was as deep as the characters in it, and those characters tended to be more irritating and cliché than anything else.  I felt cheated by Vincent’s introduction of Faythe as not only her protagonist, but also her narrator.  She was spoilt, whiny and irritating; not at all someone I felt drawn to or supportive of at any part in her journey.  I hold high hopes that Miss Sanders evolves throughout the Shifters series, though I will likely not be continuing to join her in her journey for future reviews.  A final warning to those of you interested in picking up Stray for a quick treat to your busy, overworked, minds: beware the implied forced sexual interactions.  Rape is not described in immediate detail, but it does exist in this story and it is disturbing.

Apocalyptica – Life Burns


PS. mephy proposed.  I said yes.  I has a fiancé.  w00t.


7 Responses to “100 problems.”

  1. MJ October 28, 2009 at 9:19 pm #

    ❤ YAY FOR ENGAGEMENT!!!!!!!!! *dances you around again* lol I'm so happy and excited for you both!!!!!!!!!!!! there are not enough exclamation points to make this…uhh…point. lol

    As for the book, it sounds an awful lot like Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series without the vampires. If I hadn't already read her series, I think this book would interest me. As it is though, I think it would drive me nuts, and sound like just a really cheesy fan-fic novel. Which may be what it is, I don't know. *shrug*

    On the review, I think you did a fantastic job. You're descriptive and thorough, and you presented a comprehensive review of the book and showed you didn't particularly love the book, without coming out and saying you didn't. You gave enough detail to tell us what it was about without giving anything away, and left it open enough for us to be interested in reading the book. Great job! I knew you'd be good at this stuff!

  2. C October 28, 2009 at 10:18 pm #

    You did a fantastic job and you hit the nail on the head with your points. I totally agree, but I’m sucker enough to go back for more. 🙂

    She really doesn’t evolve too much more as a person, but I got sucked into the story line and now have to continue.

  3. hirondelle October 29, 2009 at 1:29 am #

    Vampires have been done (to death – pardon the pun), werewolves have been done (well – by Kelley Armstrong) where does that leave the aspiring urban fantasy rockstar? Werecats?!? please

    However… weregeese now there is potential.

    Great review Vyx. Not rushing out to buy the book, but that is what you wanted, isn’t it? 😀

  4. vyxen October 29, 2009 at 7:38 am #

    Hah. Yes. Dissuade the public from novel purchasing. (I’m such a great little book seller.)

    Pfft. That leaves a girl with a challenge! Upcoming UF ink slingers are going to have to use their imaginations if they want to rock the genre. Well, either that, or they’ll just continue to cop out and write vamps and werewhatevers (I see your goose and raise you a weremule) and make a lot of coin doing it. There’s still a lot of undiscovered country, though! So much myth out there, so little time! 🙂

    Thanks C! I have to admit, it is nice to know I’m not missing a lot by ignoring the rest of the series. Oh well! There are a lot of people who enjoy it (rly. Read the 5* reports on amazon.com), Vincent’s making money hand over fist! 🙂 (At least she’s writing and at least she’s sold her idea – it’s fun to be a critic who can’t say any of that . . . rly. 😉 )

  5. MJ October 30, 2009 at 11:27 pm #


    Weregeese and Waremules.

    I’m so tired that this is riotously funny. I’m going to look back tomorrow and wonder why I found it so funny I think, but right now my sides hurt from laughing so hard. I’m picturing a hairy goose and a murderous donkey (and yeah, I know the difference between a mule and a donkey, but for comedic purposes close enough) chasing someone through the woods under a full moon. Wow. And this is BEFORE the Ambien.

    Ok, sorry to stray off topic. I’ll go away now. lol

  6. missyjo October 31, 2009 at 12:12 am #

    And thanks be to Dan’s quick brain, I see your weregoose and weremule and raise you a wereturtle, the most dangerous of all!

    Ok taking my spamage to bed now. Bai!

  7. vyxen October 31, 2009 at 7:15 am #

    TMNT FTW, imo!


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