Narrator: Jennifer Van Dyck
Series: Shifters #1
Published by Harelquin Books S.A., Mira on May 31, 2007
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Length: 13 hours 53 minutes
There are only eight breeding female werecats left . . .
And I'm one of them.
I look like an all-American grad student. But I am a werecat, a shape-shifter, and I live in two worlds.
Despite reservations from my family and my Pride, I escaped the pressure to continue my species and carved out a normal life for myself. Until the night a Stray attacked.
I'd been warned about Strays -- werecats without a Pride, constantly on the lookout for someone like me: attractive, female, and fertile. I fought him off, but then learned two of my fellow tabbies had disappeared.
This brush with danger was all my Pride needed to summon me back . . . for my own protection. Yeah, right. But I'm no meek kitty. I'll take on whatever -- and whoever -- I have to in order to find my friends. Watch out, Strays -- 'cause I got claws, and I'm not afraid to use them . . .
In May y’all voted for me to read Insurgent, but Stray was second place by only 1 vote and I got so many comments that people were bummed it lost, so I knew it needed to make my list soon. Y’all were right – of course! Stray was the start of what I expect will be a great series, with a great world and complex characters.
For one, I really like this world. I like my werewolf shifters just fine, but cat shifters are a nice change of pace – I don’t think I ever got exactly what kinds of cats they are but I pictured Jaguars for some reason (if there’s an actual type named and I missed it, someone tell me please). There’s a sort of class system – cats born to the families have a higher class than strays, or those that are changed by another cat shifter – and, like all class systems, it has some problems. That created an interesting tension that I think could go far as the series progresses.
I also really like that women are a rarity – they have more boys than anything – and thus females are treasured. Especially since, as is typical in cat hierarchy, they are a matrilineal society. That had had frustrating consequences for the main character, Faith though. She doesn’t want to lead or settle down in marriage and have her life be about giving her pride children – particularly a girl child. She wants to go to school and have a more “typcial” tragectory. I can 100% appreciate scoffing at the responsibilities that she has ahead of her and feeling so trapped by all the expectations that all you want to do is run. Faith apparently has quite the track record of running and I mostly love her for it.
I say mostly because sometimes she goes just a bit too far. Stubborn would be an understatement when describing Faith. She sometimes ignores reason to stick to her guns. And that got a bit irritating. I wanted to shake her and tell her how stupid she was being. Speaking of being stupid – she gets some information at the end of Stray that I’m almost positive will show up in future books because it seemed pretty damn critical and she just shrugs at it and moves on. Yeah dumb move.
But Faith is not a TSTL (too stupid to live) heroine most the time. Most the time she’s a fiesty, smart, tough cat and I loved her for it. Her stubbornness was even endearing, especially since it made her a character that is flawed and has room to grow. I don’t like my characters too perfect after all.
The pace was good and kept me engaged from beginning to end – Stray had elements of mystery, though mainly it was just a bit of suspense and action. I should note that it does have some scenes with fairly light sexual abuse (if there’s such a thing) and mentions of rape, though not graphic. Just in case that’s a trigger for someone.
I listened to Stray and Jennifer Van Dyck did a really good job. I thought the voices were distinct and the male voices weren’t overly feminine. And I was able to listen at 2x speed with no loss of performance, which doesn’t hold true for all narrators. I’m glad I have book 2 on audio too, because I definitely plan to continue soon and I will be listening for sure!