Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Alpha by Rachel Vincent

Review contains no spoilers for Alpha, but does contain them for earlier books! Recommend you skip this if you've yet to pick up the series, and that you should pick up book 1, Stray, right now ;)

The unscrupulous new Council chair has charged Jace, Marc, and me with trespassing, kidnapping, murder, and treason. Yeah, we’ve been busy. But now it’s time to take justice into our own hands. We must avenge my brother’s death and carve out the rot at the heart of the Council.
It’s not going to be easy, and loss seems unavoidable, but I have promised to protect my Pride, no matter what. With a target on my back and Marc at my side, I’m heading for a final showdown that can—that will—change everything forever."

Alpha is the sixth and final book in the Shifters series and I was lucky enough to receive an early copy thanks to NetGalley. I was ridiculously happy to find the link waiting for me in my inbox a week ago and started it straight away. Then stayed up til gone 3am to finish it. I could not stop reading it, I had to know what happened to Faythe and the rest of her Pride. It's an intense, emotional rollorcoaster and heart breaking though it was, I wouldn't have changed a thing nor could I have asked for more.

I was hooked on this series from the first page of book 1, Stray, and since then my love for the series has only grown. It is a firm favourite with me and one I would highly recommend. Book 4, Prey completely blew me away with it's intensity and heartbreak. It changed everything for Faythe and her Pride, and the whole werecat world in general. Shift then continued the changes as Faythe attempted to find her way out of an impossible situation, and carry on protecting her fellow tabbies Kaci and Manx as well.

Alpha picks up just a short while after the end of Shift. Faythe and the rest of the South Central Pride are about to meet Ethan's pregnant girlfriend for the first time. They learnt of her pregnancy immediately after Ethan's death in Prey, but until now they've not met her. They want to be a part of the baby's life, but Angela can't know of their true nature. And hiding it when war is about to break out is not going to be easy.

It's not long before things really heat up as Greg, Faythe, Marc, Jace and members of the other Prides, come together in the mountains again for another council meeting. This one to decide if Greg can remain as head of the Territorial Council, or if Calvin Malone - a cat desperate for power and control, determined to have his sons with all available tabbies, willing or unwilling - will take the head instead. And the battle for Faythe's heart reaches breaking point. She's got to decide for sure who she loves the most, who her other half is. Either Marc, the stray her family took in, who she has loved for years. Or Jace, her late brothers best friend who's suddenly proving himself to be alpha material as well. Doesn't matter who she chooses, someone is going to get hurt and she doesn't want more pain than they're all already facing, but she must choose. War is breaking out and it's not the time for divided loyalties within the Pride. Faythe is going to need everything she's got and then some to win this fight.

The Shifters series is one of my favourites and this book was everything I expected. It's a heart wrenching, awesome, bittersweet ending. I cried through a lot of the book I have to say. Rachel does a fantastic job of capturing emotions, pain and grief in particular and making it very real. It's hard not to sympathise with Faythe as she makes the tough decisions she has to make. Not always a case of right or wrong, and certainly never easy, but what has to be done for the continued existence of her Pride, and their allies as well.

Faythe does choose between Marc and Jace, and as Rachel promised it is her choice. Neither man dies to leave her only one option, nor does an unplanned pregnancy occur. It's Faythe's choice and it's almost as heartbreaking watching her trying to figure out her personal life as the rest of the book. There is a war going on and losses are inevitable in any war. So painful and harsh, but it's the truth and Rachel doesn't pull any punches. One of the reasons this series works so well for me is because I care just as much about the secondary characters as the protagonist. I love the glimpses in to Greg, Karen, Jace, Marc, Kaci and all the others, that we get. It's as hard seeing their reactions, their grief as it is getting Faythe's. Sometimes more so.

This book does a good job wrapping things up. It deals with the things left hanging from the previous two books and comes to what felt like a natural end point. There isn't any epilogue, a glimpse of Faythe's life a month or a year after the final chapter and I'm actually pretty glad of it. Faythe has come so, so far from the loud mouth brat she was in Stray. She's grown up, learnt what being a leader means, learnt when to fight and when to keep her mouth shut, learnt how to make the hard decisions. Where Faythe's story ends for us, there is still much more she faces and skipping those things to show us just the outcome would have left me feeling a little cheated I think. Instead, we get the ending the series deserved. It's heartbreaking, bittersweet, but ultimately fantastic and the best book of the series. It's very hard saying goodbye to characters I love, but there is so much room to imagine the future for them and that I love. Best book of the series, most heartbreaking, and yet with a satisfying conclusion that does the series justice and one I'd think most fans will love. 10/10


Larissa {Larissa's Bookish Life} said...

Great review!!!! i LOVE this series and I absolutely LOVED this book so much!!! Im gonna miss this series forever!! =DDD

Cem said...


HCross9820 said...

I love it!!! I can't wait to write my review, too. I need to get rid of my other hobbies, and just read books. ; )

Lale said...

It was on netgalley?! Darn. I can't find it now. Anyway, great review- I'm even more psyched to read it!

Jessica said...

I soooo don't like you today Cem! Not at all! I didn't know you had an ecopy from Net Galley.

I tried to look around and get one too, but I guess it wasn't available or something.

Sooooooooooo, don't like you today Cem!


Cem said...

NetGalley don't have it for general release. They were offering it as insentive/reward for promoting Rachel's tour as part of the Author On Tour a little while back. 22 people, myself included, did so and got Alpha last week as a result. I know how lucky I am and I'm fine with people not liking me for it ;) Jess.