I read this series a few months ago but didn't get the chance to post a review for each book, so I decided to review the entire series.
This is the first paranormal series I have read since I read the Twilight series two years ago. I know, it's been a long time, but don't give me too much grief over it - lately I've been reading like it's going out of style. Anyway, I have to admit that this is by far the best series I have ever read. I absolutely loved all of the books - I couldn't put them down and was very sad to see it all come to an end with the sixth book, Alpha.
For me, this series was about discovering, accepting, and embracing who one really is, her true identity, in order to carve out her own place in our complex society rather than conforming to the typical female stereotype that still haunts us today. It's about making tough decisions and big mistakes, and in turn learning from one's mistakes in order to reach her full potential.
The series is centered around Faythe Sanders, a female werecat, who is also the daughter of one of the most powerful Alpha's in the U.S. Traditionally, an unwed female werecat (tabby) is expected to marry one of her Pride's enforcers, who then becomes the new Alpha of the Pride. She should then bear children until a girl is born, since tabbies are so rare-a Pride's bloodline will end if there are no female werecats born to that generation. But Faythe is no typical tabby-she is strong, independent, and has developed a sheer disgust for the tabby's role in werecat society. She wants to carve her own path, one that does not lead back to her Pride, while her father, family, and the majority of the country's Pride cats think otherwise.
In the first book, Stray, Faythe is away at college, enjoying life as a typical graduate student when she is forced to return to her Pride because of a very dangerous situation. Of course she fights her father for control of her own life but ends up being trapped in the very situation she had run from to gain her independence. But as new situations arise, her hopes of leaving the Pride become more like dreams than reality. As the series progresses, Faythe is conflicted with what she wants and what is best for her Pride. She must make extremely difficult decisions that will greatly affect her personally as well as affect the future of the whole Pride.
I think we can all relate to having to make difficult choices, choices that will have a negative outcome for someone, whether that someone be us, our friends, family, or other innocent parties. Every choice we make will affect someone, and many times the outcomes of our decisions are not what we had in mind and can even be devastating at times. That's why life is so difficult. Should we sacrifice the few to save many, sacrifice our own happiness to bring justice to the world, or make no sacrifices and deal with the possibly devastating outcomes?
Another theme that is present throughout the entire series is how complex and difficult romantic relationships can be. In the beginning, Faythe finds herself torn between love and independence. Should she allow herself to fall in love again with the man she was expected to marry or should she dismiss her feelings for Marc in order to keep her independence and eventually leave the Pride again? She doesn't want to cause Marc any more pain than she already has, but neither can she control the profound need to be with him. And to make matters even worse, her feelings for a life-long Pride member become very intense, which puts her in an even more complicated romantic situation. Again, I believe we have all been in this situation before - having to choose between two people, both of who we love. You ask yourself, do I chose the person who I can't live without, or the person who can't live without me? Do I sacrifice my own happiness or hurt one or both of them?
For those of you who are looking for a story that is intense and steamy rather than sweet and innocent, this is definitely the series for you. You will love every minute of it.
I give each of the books a 5/5, but the 5th and 6th books, Shift and Alpha, were my favorites. I laughed and cried, got angry then happy, was disappointed and satisfied. I absolutely loved it but was so sad when it all came to an end.
If you want to take a look at each book's description, go to Rachel Vincent's Shifters Page. She also has information about her other series, Soul Screamers, as well as other short stories.