In Review: Stray by Rachel Vincent

Released: 6/1/07 624 Pages
Publisher: Mira
Format: Paperback
When one of your favorite authors tells you to read an up-and-coming author because she is incredible, and more imagnitive...far better than me," you listen and read as you're told, but that whole better part is still up for debate.

Rachel Vincent's first novel doesn't exactly run out of the gate, but it almost fools you into believing it does with a quick fight scene with a Stray werecat, one not borne but infected, at the beginning of the story. However Ms. Vincent does consistantly throughout it, create a rich, believable atmosphere with characters that are truly flawed and human with just enough pretty faces to keep you distracted. Because, I've said it before and I'll say it again a pretty face in the right situation can overcome many flaws in a story. It's not an exact science, and hell, many accomplished writers don't believably pull it off or they oversaturate the scene with pointless nudity, but Stray is a good example of pulling it off.

Enter our "heroine," Faythe Sanders. She's young, perky, tough as nails, which I love, but she has a selfish streak wider than an ocean. And since the entire book is from her point of view she takes the whole me me me attitude to a brand spanking new level. See, Faythe was born a werecat, a nice little ball of sharp claws and black fur, but she's special because she's a tabby. These cats are gold, they're the lifeblood of their families, their Prides. These girls are the ones who will determine who will rule simply by marrying and baring, well, kittens. And they are in short supply, only 8 in the country of childbearing age, one in each Pride. But Faythe doesn't want to hear that, she doesn't want to hear much unless it's someone saying that she's right, but she almost never is. All she wants is her freedom, no matter what the cost, which in this case is her entire family, because without her they lose everything. So when someone snatches one of the other Pride's tabby cats she is forced to return home from college, while they search for the missing girl and catch the culprit.

And the one to drag her home is the guy she left at the altar, as she smashed his gorgeous heart into little pieces, Marc. He's attractive, and temperamental, strong and passionate. He's also the one that her father pushed her towards before she realized what he was doing, grooming them both for the future, the one who smothered her with his love. Of course, when she gets home, what story would be complete without throwing in a lopsided love triangle? This one comes in the shape of the equally gorgeous, a possibly better catch, whose only flaw seems to be who he loves but doesn't really have a chance with, Jace. He's not alpha material, but she claims to not want the responsibility, so it really shouldn't be an issue.

Faythe causes calamity wherever she steps. She's argues for the sake of arguing, she says she doesn't want to hurt anyone, but that's all she does. Her heart is made up from the start, she's already chosen, no matter the circumstance, but her head is too stubborn to admit it.

The story at times feels forced, the action is stop and go until the last 1/3 of the book, and Faythe is the least likable character. her antics at time make you want to slap your forehead in disbelief, like when she gets kidnapped. Because a girl in danger, in the middle of the night should always leave her protectors to take a walk. Everyone saw that one coming a mile away, except Faythe. You want to root for her, because you know you're suppose to, but she goes out of her way to make it so hard to do so. But she did make a deal with Daddy to work for him for the next 2 1/2 years, so it's likely she'll have time to outgrow her selfishness. Don't get me wrong the girl has potential, but she really needs to be able to see beyond herself.

From the begining you can see where the story is leading, where the series is headed, but the twists and turns, the very subtle hints are what make the ride enjoyable. So while I'm not sure that the story is "better than," as I was told it would be, it was a pretty good start, and I will be picking up the next book to see where it takes Faythe.


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