Monday, December 3, 2012

Trial by Fire

Trial by Fire
Jennifer Lynn Barnes
ISBN: 978-1606841686
Edgemont, 2011

Plot Summary: Bryn is settling into being the first human alpha of a wolf pack (the Cedar Ridge Pack) ever. However, peace doesn’t last too long when she finds a young wereboy, Lucas, near death on her door. Supposedly, he belongs to Shay’s Snake Bend Pack and he’s been beaten and tortured likely because of Shay’s hatred of Bryn and the fact that he holds the market on female weres in her pack. However, Bryn has no right to claim Lucas unless Shay gives up his pack bond with the boy which doesn’t seem too likely. Sadly, Shay’s psychotic tendencies aren’t the only thing they have to worry about. It seems that Lucas was given to a group of very psychotic humans with a grudge against werewolves. Included in this group is Archer, a man who can infiltrate Bryn’s dreams and cause her physically harm and Carolyn, a girl Bryn’s age who is so inhuman and feral that the rest of her psychic friends are scared of her. Can Bryn keep her pack safe from harm and still save Lucas?

Critical Evaluation: The Raised by Wolves series is excellent! It is fast paced and Bryn is one of the best female characters I’ve seen in paranormal YA books. There is very little actually romance in this paranormal series—just more so the importance of mutual respect through pack bonds. All of the mysterious threads—why was Lucas given to the psychics?, Why does Shay give up his control of Lucas? and more—are tied together nicely in the end when Bryn has to kill or be killed to protect her pack. The characters are all well drawn and individual. While there might be a lot of characters they are never confusing. It is interesting to see Bryn struggle as a weak human who is an Alpha of a werewolf pack. The details about pack politics are also interesting and add something new to the YA paranormal book trend. Highly recommended series, especially for teens who love paranormal books but are tired of the romance triangles in most of them.

Reader's Annotation: Bryn, now alpha of her own pack, has to face a new challenge in the appearance of Lucas, a wereboy who is close to death, and a group of psychics who have it out for all shapeshifters.

Author Information: Jennifer Lynn Barnes was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She has been, in turn, a competitive cheerleader, a volleyball player, a dancer, a debutante, a primate cognition researcher, a teen model, a comic book geek, and a lemur aficionado. She's been writing for as long as she can remember, finished her first full book (which she now refers to as a "practice book" and which none of you will ever see) when she was still in high school, and then wrote Golden the summer after her freshman year in college, when she was nineteen. Barnes graduated high school in 2002 and from Yale University with a degree in cognitive science in 2006. She was awarded a Fulbright to do post-graduate work at Cambridge, and then returned to the states, where she is hard at work on her PhD (Barnes, 2012).  

Genre: Fantasy, Horror

Curriculum Ties:  N/A

Booktalking Ideas: Appeal to fans of Buffy and the like (for strong female characters). Appeal to the non-romantic paranormal fans with this action packed story.   Strong female lead character.

Reading Level/Interest Age: 15+

Challenge Issues: Violence

Challenge Defense: If this book were challenged, I would make sure the library has a Challenge Defense File ready for such a situation. Inside the Challenge Defense File, librarians and the public could find:

·        A copy of the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights. (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at
·        A copy of the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read Statement (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at
·        A copy of the library’s own selection policy (my library, the La Vista Public Library, has a policy but it is not online so I can’t link to it as an example).
·        A copy of the library’s citizen’s complaint/reconsideration form (my library, the La Vista Public Library’s, form is called the City of La Vista Service Request form).
·        Copies of reviews—both good and bad—from reputable library and publishing services to justify why a book was selected for inclusion in the collection. These include not only reviews from such journals as School Library Journal, VOYA, Horn Book, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist, but also any mention of books on YALSA lists and other copies of articles about any awards or nominations such books may have received.
·        Include a short rationale file for other coworkers so if the librarian in charge of selecting materials is not available when a challenge occurs the other staff members have some information to go by (the rational would include such information as a short summary, what could be challenged, reviews, awards and nominations, etc.)
·        Include for staff members a copy of “Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials,” a document written by the American Library Association. Make sure that staff reviews this document periodically so they are prepared and know how to face such situations. (Can be found and printed from ALA’s website at

Reason for Inclusion: One of the few paranormal fantasy series out there that is not all about a love triangle. This is more about character and world building instead of a human girl getting it on with a supernatural creature. Recommend purchase of the entire trilogy—Raised by Wolves and Trial by Fire.


Barnes, J.L. (2012). Bio. Retrieved from

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