Reviewed by Maggie: March 4, 2013, ie one day before the release of FROST BURNED
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Do you have a younger sibling? If so, you know the feeling of euphoria that comes from hearing, "Of course you can go," followed by the deflation from, "...as long as you take your brother with you." Why, parents, why? I resented my brother so much for being my skinny, little ball and chain. I hated feeling handcuffed to him and having to be a package deal if my friends invited me over. Likewise, I typically loathe spinoff series, especially if they poach a favorite character or involve a storyline that affects the original series. I hate feeling like I HAVE to read/watch this other series for the sake of the original. When Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice did their crossover episodes, I had a flashback to as long as you take your brother with you and post-traumatically deleted Grey's from my DVR. Even in the recent Lizzie Bennet Diaries when Lizzie talks about going back and watching all of Lydia's videos, I was like, "I know what you're doing. YOU CAN'T TRICK ME."
So it's with this pleasant mindset that I went into the Alpha & Omega series, Patricia Briggs' spinoff of the Mercy Thompson series, my one urban fantasy love.
Surprisingly, I liked it. Unsurprisingly, not nearly as much as Mercy. Still, I marathoned these books over four days, much like I did with the Mercy books.
Cry Wolf is the first in the series and the weakest. It felt like one sidelong glance after another. Does he like me? Does she like me? Mind you, this is after Charles Cornick and Anna Latham are the werewolf equivalent of engaged so yes, you do like each other. Get over it. There wasn't a love triangle, but a lot of the book felt like two people going around in circles when an honest conversation would've cleared the air. If it hadn't been for Noelle's hints of BIG THINGS TO COME, I probably would've dropped the series and waited impatiently for the next Mercy.
Hunting Ground reminded me of the birds in Finding Nemo.
Fair Game, aka Criminal Fae Minds! Charles and Anna are their own were-BAU. And yes, it's as awesome as it sounds. A serial killer targeting supernatural victims is loose in Boston. Bran sends Charles and Anna to assist in the investigation. This is a nice change for both because Charles the emo wolf has been super emo lately. Due to his role as Bran's enforcer, he's had to carry out harsh punishments that he doesn't agree with. (He's kind of like Katsa in Graceling actually.) Boston is the territory of local alpha, Isaac. What I liked about this book that wasn't in the previous two books is how established the world is. In Cry Wolf, Anna is new to town and she and Charles spend most of their time in Charles's house and then the mountains. In Hunting Ground, they end up traveling to Seattle to oversee a werewolf summit with wolves from all over the world. Aside from a few local wolves, everyone is an out of town guest and it feels like that in the book setting as well. In Fair Game, the characters from Isaac to FBI Special Agent Leslie Fisher are fully drawn supporting characters. I actually wouldn't mind if Charles and Anna stayed in Boston and Isaac and Leslie became regular cast members instead of guest stars. Aside from Bran and Asil, there haven't been many consistent characters throughout the series. One of my favorite aspects of the Mercy books are the wonderful supporting characters like Warren, Kyle, Stefan, etc.
There are BIG THINGS in Fair Game, but after reading the chapter sampler for Frost Burned on Patricia Briggs' website, it seems like you can get away with not reading the Alpha & Omega series. However, after a shaky start, I think I'm going to stick with the series. I really liked the direction of Fair Game and Patricia Briggs' writing is so addicting. I want to see what new reason Charles will have for being morose.
If you haven't read either series, I'd definitely recommend starting with Moon Called. If you are a Mercy fan already, Alpha & Omega will help you pass the time til the next Mercy book (2 more hours!!) but thankfully, it's not a forced package deal.
Cry Wolf: 3/5 stars
Hunting Ground: 3/5 stars
Fair Game: 4/5 stars