It’s been a very bittersweet week for me. I’ve been waiting for what feels like forever for the release of Alpha by Rachel Vincent, the last of the Shifters series. I have absolutely LOVED the books in this series… I would go so far as to say it’s probably my very favorite series, ever. I recommend it to everyone I know who reads. Although, 90% of them hear the words “shifters” and “werecats” and roll their eyes and say, “thanks, but no thanks!” (They have no idea what they’re missing, by the way.)
So, Tuesday morning, I bought Alpha. I was so excited to finally have it on my ereader. I was seriously doing happy dances in my desk chair. And, although I promised myself I was going to read it slowly, loving every word, because I knew it was the end… that was much easier said than done, of course.
Yesterday afternoon, I finished Alpha. And I’ve been dying to talk about it… REALLY talk about it. It’s so hard when all you can do is leave cryptic, spoiler-free messages on Twitter and Facebook. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read yet, but I want/NEED to realllly talk about Alpha! So, this is my spoiler warning. The rest of this post is going to be chock full of spoilers. If you don’t want to know who Faythe chooses or who lives and dies in Alpha, then please do NOT read the rest of this post!
If you have already read Alpha (or have no plans to), then click “More” and keep reading…
First of all, I’m absolutely heartbroken that the series is over. I can understand why Rachel wanted to end the series while it was still going strong, while the story was still compelling and readers still loved it. I’d rather see that happen than have the series drag on endlessly and get bored with it. But, still, I’m heartbroken. I’m really going to miss Faythe and the other characters… and I do think there was still LOTS of room for compelling story lines in that world.
Faythe JUST became Alpha, and I don’t feel like we really saw the Alpha in her reach its full potential in this book. Even after she became Alpha, she spent sooo much time questioning herself and trying to come to terms with the fact that SHE was in charge, that the other shifters were counting on her. But I’m not sure she actually got to the point where she accepted that and was comfortable in that role. I didn’t really see Faythe as a confident Alpha at the end of this book. She still had so much room to grow, and honestly, I would’ve liked going on that journey with her!
And Jace. Oh, poor Jace. I guess I should say that I’ve been on Team Jace since the very first “Jace-flirting-with-Faythe” scene in Stray. And it’s not because I didn’t like Marc… but I felt like we were there from the beginning of Faythe/Jace, whereas we came in in the middle of the Faythe/Marc story. Marc’s love for Faythe is something that we were TOLD about from the first book… but we didn’t actually see much of it develop; it just WAS. In fact, Marc just WAS. Marc has always been Marc. I don’t feel like he changed much from the first book to the last. But, Jace… that’s a totally different story. Jace in Stray is a much different character than Jace in Alpha, and I loved the fact that we saw the changes in him, first-hand, throughout each of the six books.
There’s so much talk about this series and the fact that Faythe changes and matures so much from book to book. But, what about Jace?? I feel like he does the exact same thing, WITH Faythe. We see each of them grow and mature… and we also see their relationship grow and mature. And, because of that, I can’t help but be on Team Jace! I fell in love with him as Faythe fell in love with him. And I absolutely wanted to see Faythe choose him… even though I knew that she wouldn’t.
I knew all along that Marc would “win,” and I get that that’s how it had to be. I’m not sure that Rachel could’ve convinced anyone that Faythe could live without Marc. (Even if we did accept their love and devotion on blind faith!) So, on one hand, I’m satisfied that Faythe chose Marc. But, on the other hand, I’m shocked and kind of upset about it. Because, let’s face it, the Faythe/Jace chemistry in these last few books has been AMAZING and on fire. And Marc was portrayed as a complete jackass all the way through Alpha. Even though he had reason to be that way, it still didn’t work for me, given the way Marc treated Faythe and the way Jace treated her throughout the book, that she chose Marc. I’m not sure how realistic that was.
I guess what it boils down to is that the portrayal of Jace’s love for Faythe was more believable for me. He acted like he adored Faythe. He understood her when Marc didn’t, and he embraced her for HER, no matter what. Marc, on the other hand, was angry and hateful. And even if it was justified, I’m not sure that, in real life, Faythe would’ve chosen Marc when she had Jace treating her like a queen and loving her unconditionally.
But, all in all, I’m not unhappy that Faythe ultimately chose Marc. What does bother me is that the last bit of the book, when this uber-tough decision was made, is sooooo rushed. I’ve just spent six books, agonizing over every word, every action between these characters… wondering how it’s going to turn out, and who Faythe is going to choose… and why. And I wanted a lot more time to say goodbye to Faythe/Jace… to accept and understand her choice. After dragging it out and agonizing over this decision, when Faythe finally does make her choice, it’s very abrupt. And Jace just accepts it, like that… and walks away to being his new life with another Pride? And Marc just accepts it and is suddenly grinning from ear-to-ear and no longer upset with Faythe, just because she chose him?? I feel like we missed a whole lot in between, and I was left on the last page thinking, “THAT’S IT??? Did Jace really just walk away?? Did Marc really just accept her proposal? And they lived happily ever after?? REALLY??”
And, the Faythe/Jace/Marc love triangle certainly wasn’t the only part of this series. Yet, the other story lines were wrapped up even more abruptly, if that’s possible. We got a paragraph, maybe two, about the REST of the characters and how things ended up for them… and that was really, really unsatisfying for me! I’m not sure how I imagined the series ending, but it wasn’t like that. And I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed… not just because it was the end but because of HOW it ended, with so much still left unsaid and unexplored.
What did I LOVE about Alpha?? The emotion. I’ve never read a book that I reacted to so strongly… physically reacted to. I tweeted while I was reading and said, “I’m on p. 28 of Alpha and I’ve already cried… twice.” And that’s the honest truth. And I cried a lot more before I got to the last page!! I knew that Greg Sanders would die in this book, otherwise Faythe wouldn’t have become Alpha. But I couldn’t have prepared myself for how emotional his death would be. Faythe talking to him in the moments before he died, Karen’s reaction to his death… O.M.G. It was just so unbelievably sad and intense, and I felt like I was there sharing their grief with them. I was crying while they were crying… and hoping that my husband wouldn’t catch me crying while I was reading a book (because he already thinks I’m insane enough without that!).
And the tension between Faythe/Jace/Marc was also exquisite!! Loved every bit of that. I would (and probably will!) read Alpha again, just for those scenes… Jace and Faythe caught kissing in the hallway, Marc “marking” Faythe in the shed… Hello. YUMMMMMY. There’s no other word for it!
So, all in all, I did love Alpha. I know my “review” here might sound rather critical… but I think that’s just because it was the last book of the series, and I wanted to see so much more!! It’s a testament to Rachel Vincent and what a wonderful job she did creating this world/these characters that makes her readers so sad to see it end.