Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Review: Men of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong

Review time!! Yay!!

So I got a lot of good books lately and I've been reading steadily. It was hard to choose which books to review... I mean, so many good books and so little time! and I know some of you are anticipating some reviews (well at least, that's what I'm hoping, LOL :) So I'll definitively be reviewing Second Chance Pass by Robyn Carr, but a bit later this week.

For today, I've chosen Men of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong because Women of the Otherworld is one of my favorite series and this book is just awesome!!


Men of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong
published by Random House in January 2009

Men of the Otherworld is a very special book. It's actually a collection of online novellas that Ms Armstrong has written a few years back for fans. The ones that were chosen for this book are all narrated from men in the series, a nice change :) There's been talks about novellas being printed in hardcovers and quite frankly, I'm against it... but Men of the Otherworld being a compilation with two lengthy novellas is really worth it and I'm glad to have it in hardcover format :) By the way, all the proceeds are going to World Literacy of Canada! Isn't that great from Ms Armstrong?

As a curious child, Clayton didn’t resist the bite—he asked for it. But surviving as a lone child werewolf was more than he could manage—until Jeremy came along and taught him how to straddle the human-werewolf worlds, gave him a home…and introduced him to the Pack. So begins this volume, featuring three of the most intriguing members of the American Pack—a hierarchical founding family where bloodlines mean everything, and each day presents a new, thrilling, and often deadly challenge. For as Clayton grows from a wild child to a clever teen who tests his beloved mentor at every turn, he must learn not only to control his animal instincts, but to navigate Pack politics—including showing his brutal arch nemesis, Malcolm, who the real Alpha is...
Genre: urban fantasy
Series: Women of the Otherworld

This book contains 4 novellas...

Infusion is more of a short story and is basically about the origin of Jeremy, the werewolf we know as the Alpha. Although quite short, the story still gives us great insight into Malcom - Jeremy's father - and Jeremy's background and origins. I mean, reading about Jeremy, who didn't wonder about his grandfather and father? However, this is not my favorite story, probably because I dislike Malcom. Still, it is very interesting.

Savage and Ascension are two lengthy novellas and cover Clay's childhood... From the moment Clay was bitten and turned into a werewolf to his early 20s when Jeremy became the Alpha. These two stories are basically AWESOME!! I just love them!! I read them online a few years back and still, re-reading them? Still love it :) It's written at the first person, from Clay's point of view... and Ms Armstrong did such a great job capturing Clay's personality, even from such a young age!

I personally LOVE reading about the relationship between Jeremy and Clay. It's sooo endearing! and again, gives a lot of insight in Jeremy and Clay's relationship and dynamics. I think reading these novellas, you understand Clay's loyalty for Jeremy better.

I have to say, Savage is really my favorite, because we get to read about a young Clay. The novella is quite humorous and I got quite a few laughs out of it :) Also, if you've read Bitten and Stolen, the first two books of the series, there were some mentions of incidents in Clay's childhood and Ms Armstrong did well incorporating them in the novellas (which I think, were written afterwards).

Again, I can't emphasize enough how cool it is to read about Clay and Jeremy. It's also great to read about a younger Jeremy. I think that you get to know him so much better. You understand better how he thinks and how he became the Alpha he is.

Here's a snippet of Savage :)
Before we left the motel, Jeremy had spent a lot of time making phone calls. Not that I understood what he was doing. For whatever reason, I had holes in my memory such that I'd know perfectly well what a car or money was for, but objects like telephones and toilets were unfathomable mysteries.

At the time, it seemed to me that Jeremy was spending a lot of time with a piece of plastic pressed against his ear, talking to himself. Which was fine by me. We all had our eccentricities. Jeremy liked talking to plastic; I liked hunting and eating the rats that ventured into the motel room. Or, at least, I did like hunting and eating the rats, until Jeremy caught me and promptly kiboshed that hobby. Some of us are less tolerant of eccentricities than others.
Isn't that just Clay? LOL :)

Ascension covers more years and is a great story. Not only do you continue to have more insight about Jeremy and Clay's relationship, but also about the pack. The story basically focuses Jeremy becoming the Alpha and Clay, his enforcers. I like how Ms Armstrong wrote it... the flow was just perfect and the years went by so smoothly. The story is a bit more serious, but there are still many nice moments.

One thing I also love is that we get to know Antonio and Nick much better :D They really play a big role in the novellas and it's nice to read about them, because they play such a big role in Jeremy and Clay's lives... so I think it's nice that they get their moments.

Finally, the last novella is Kitsunegari, a new novella written especially for Men of the Otherworld. I really think this is a nice gesture from both Ms Armstrong and the publishers. I mean, it would have been so easy to just put together all those novellas together and just publish it... but it make it more sincere to have something new in.

So Kitsunegari is a short story with Jeremy as the narrator. Basically, Jeremy and Jaime are together for the week-end and Jeremy has the feeling that he is being observed. Kitsunegari is such a great story for so many reasons! First, we get an update on Jeremy and Jaime, that's already good... but we get to see how they're handling their relationship. I've rooted for Jeremy and Jaime from the beginning, even though I wonder how they would handle their relationship. I mean, they are so different personality-wise and then, when you factor their lifestyle and responsibilities... it's hard to have a relationship... and Ms Armstrong just made the right choice and handled it perfectly. Their relationship is stronger and more meaningful than a lot of H/H I read in other novels... they have this confidence in each other that make this relationship works so well... and the fact is, it suits them well. I'm glad that Ms Armstrong didn't force the issue and make their relationship a "typical" one.

Oh and I especially like the parts where Jeremy is thinking of his few first encounters with Jaime... LOL, so clueless... so cute :)

Then, we get to discover what Jeremy is. He's not only a werewolf and that's been hinted many times in previous books... we get a clearer image with Infusion, but in Kitsunegari, we finally get an answer. And it's not just getting an answer, but how Ms Armstrong is giving it to us. It's done really seamlessly and masterly :) It sure makes things interesting for the future :)

Finally, all I can do is take my hat off to Ms Armstrong. It's not just her writing that's awesome, but how she incorporates hints in her books and then, link them all together... She has the readers going "ahhhh" and "ohhhh." Ms Armstrong really had thought this series and characters out well and her execution is flawless :)

My Grade: A+. This book is just AWESOME!! and a great addition to the series :) You really get to know Clay and Jeremy better and that's great :) After reading this, I'm really looking forward for Frosbite which is narrated by Elena and puts the werewolves at the front again.

Also, side-notes... for those who wonder, you don't need to have read all the series to enjoy Men of the Otherworld. As long as you've read Bitten and Stolen, you're okay. It's be great if you've read No Humans Involved, since that's the book where Jeremy and Jaime get together, but it's not needed to enjoy Infusion, Savage and Ascension.

*EDIT: Kmont wrote in the comment section how unfortunate it was that you needed to read the full length novels in order to be able to enjoy this book... and that made me think... and, well, my conclusion? You don't actually need to have read the series to enjoy it (well perhaps for the last short story, yes, but otherwise, no), LOL. Infusion, Savage and Ascension are basically prequels to the series, so really, there's no mentions of the future... duh!

It's just that these prequels were written after Bitten and Stolen were published, so they tie in very well with the actual series. Also, most of the readers are already acquainted with Clay and Jeremy... It's very hard for me to look at Men of the Otherw0rld with a new eye - having already read these stories online and being such a huge fan of the series...

Anyway, final words? You don't need to have read any books to enjoy Infusion, Savage and Ascension :) You might be a tiny bit lost for Kitsunegari, but not too much, because Ms Armstrong does a good job at summarizing how Jaime and Jeremy got together.

19 comments:

  1. Great review!

    I've been really looking forward to this one. I read Infusion when it was still online, but missed the others. I can't wait to read about Clay's childhood, and his relationship with Jeremy.

    I also like Jaime's and Jeremy's relationship. They complement each other and have made their relationship work for them.

    I've requested a library copy, so I'm just waiting for them to get it in! :-)

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  2. It's a shame that you have to have read any of the full lengths at all to understand these short stories, but I only say that because I haven't lol. Well, another set of books to add to the list! I really like shorter stories sometimes these days, but I'll keep in mind that these need some prior help first. Since you like them so much, it sounds worth it. :)

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  3. Renee - I read the stories online and loved them so much then... so I'm really happy they published it in an actual book :) If you like the series, if you like Clay and Jeremy, you're going to love this book :)

    Let me know what you think of it once you read it :)

    Kmont - Okay, your comment made me think and I amended myself. You don't need to have read any of the full lengths to enjoy the book :) You can give this one a try if you want... I think that it's easy to follow :) It's just that, although this is a prequel, I don't see why you'd want to start a series with this book LOL :)

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  4. Holy cow Nath! An A+ rating? I am impressed. I was just so-so about getting this book. I didn't realize it was about Clay and Jeremy's past. I am so excited now!!! In addition we get more of Jeremy and Jamie! Sounds wonderful.

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  5. Jill - Trust me on this Jill, you want this book! I'm really stingy when it comes to grades, but this totally deserves A+ :)

    These stories are so good that when they were still online, I went to all the trouble to print them out and bind them :)

    Anyway, if you love the werewolves, Jeremy and Clay, you definitively want to read this book :)

    Waiting to see what you think of it!

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  6. Allright, don't you worry. I am definitely getting this book. Thanks for the heads up!

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  7. This is the same author who wrote the summoning right? I don't know if I want to start another series. lol

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  8. Rats- I hate Anthos- but I'm going to get it anyway because I love Clay & Jeremy.

    Hey did ya notice- The Tatoo guy on the cover is the same one on Ward's new one coming out- Lover Avenged. Bet someone's ticked.

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  9. Isabel - Yes, this is the same author who wrote Summoning. Both series take place in the same world, the only difference is the target audience.

    Zeek - Seriously, this book doesn't have the feel of an anthology. Savage and Ascension are quite lengthy, so put together they make a great "full length" book. In addition, Ascension really picks up right where Savage left, so it's like they are one. True, you have Infusion and Kitsunegari which are two short stories... but because they are linked with Savage and Ascension... Trust me, it doesn't feel like an anthology :P

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  10. Zeek - by the way, about the cover, I didn't notice it was the same man, because I basically gave up on Ward's series... but the cover I posted is the Canadian one. The American one is different... so I don't think anyone's really ticked :P

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  11. I am looking forward to reading this book, as soon as I have read the latest full length novel! I love this series.

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  12. Marg - Can't wait to see what you think of the series :) By the way, you don't need to read the last book in order to read this one :)

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  13. I know I don't NEED to, but my OCD doesn't allow me to do any different! LOL!

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  14. I read this book, too! It was really good. It was fun learning more about Clay and Jeremy.

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  15. Wow. An A+!

    I'm so glad you read a book you loved so much.

    Since when are Canadian and US ever covers different?
    That's weird.

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  16. Kailana - Sorry for the late reply :) I'm glad you enjoyed this one. I think that everyone will like it, it's really a winner.

    Seneca - Yep, A+ :) As for the cover, well I told you about it through emails :)

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  17. Oh I didn't know this was out yet, must check if it's out in the UK yet. Thanks so much for letting me know and reviewing it.

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  18. Rhinoa - I hope you get it soon :) Really good book :)

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