Books: "1302: The Alpha" by Christine Rains

I don't know if it's the subject matter or what, but I liked this one more than "1301." I think "The Alpha" is stronger in part because Rains delves in a bit more—into the characters' backgrounds (though I might've liked to hear more about James' experience in being bitten by a werewolf) and, really, into the characters themselves. While once again the villain is bad for no clear reason other than one needs an antagonist, at least there's somewhat more depth to his story than Vetis of "The Marquis."

In short form, "The Alpha" is the story of Stefanie, a werewolf who was meant to lead her pack but was bested and abused by the evil Wyatt until she finally escaped to Carmine (where all the 13th Floor stories are set). Now she's an artist—and I might've liked more details about that, too, but it hardly signifies—living on the 13th floor and spending time hiding from her pack . . . Why? Not clear, though she seems fairly certain they'll be looking for her. Which, of course, they are, and they find her, and therein lies the story.

I say "not clear," but really it seems the impetus to find Stefanie lies in Wyatt, the aforementioned villain, who refuses to let her go. Since [were]wolves are largely territorial, this left me to wonder that he and his pack would wander so far in search of Stefanie (thereby leaving their home territory undefended), but maybe that's meant to be a testament to his unyielding nature. Or maybe Stefanie is the territory, and Wyatt refuses to cede her.

James, meanwhile, is a lone werewolf also (coincidentally) living in Carmine. He saves Stefanie from the first attack by her pack. And here I have to wonder some more: while it's explained that James is able to mask his scent, surely he's been able to smell Stefanie all over town? But then maybe that's why he was in the woods that night, too.

I like James as a character, mostly because I have a soft spot for the geeky type. (Think Ben Whishaw in Skyfall and you've got me.) And while I still think a lot of the characters in "1302" are tropes, the story here is interesting enough to buoy them.

There was some nice dovetailing with "The Marquis," too, so that readers of both can see how the puzzle is beginning to take shape. On the whole, the premise for The 13th Floor series is a good one, and I'm waiting to see how the remaining stories play out.

1 comment:

Cherie Reich said...

Fantastic review! I loved James in The Alpha. He was my favorite character of 1302. :)