Becoming Alpha by Aileen Erin
Series: Alpha Girl #1
Published by Ink Monster
Published on: December 17, 2013
Genres: New Adult, Werewolves
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Tessa McCaide has a unique talent for getting into trouble. Then again, it isn’t easy for a girl with visions to ignore what she sees. Luckily Tessa and her family are leaving California and moving halfway across the country, giving her the perfect opportunity to leave her reputation as “Freaky Tessa” behind.
But Tessa doesn’t realize that kissing the wrong guy in her new Texas town could land her in far more trouble than she ever imagined. Like being forced to attend St. Ailbe’s Academy, a secret boarding school for werewolves.
Even if the wrong guy did accidentally turn her into one of “them” and doom her to attending the weirdest high school ever, Tessa can’t help her growing attraction to the mysterious Dastien Laurent.
When vampires attack St. Alibe’s and her visions pinpoint an enemy in their midst, Tessa realizes that boy drama and her newfound canine tendencies might just be the least of her problems.
I went into this book thinking it was YA only to be pleasantly surprised by its New Adult story line. It reminded me of Jennifer Estep’s Mythos Academy series in a lot of ways; both Gwen and Tessa are gifted with “touch” magic and despite being newbies in their respective universes, both girls quickly trump their peers in the power department without having to undergo years of training. There are a few major differences of course, the main one being their supernatural type, St. Alibe’s is a school for werewolves not ancient warriors. The similarities between these two fictional worlds made it easy for me to submerse myself in Becoming Alpha; everything felt familiar yet new at the same time. I loved this book and I’ll definitely be back for more in May!
I like that Aileen Erin gave readers a chance to get to know Tessa before she gets bitten; I enjoyed learning what her life was like pre-werewolf. Changing schools is never easy but McCaide tries to make the most of it by seeing her move to Texas as an opportunity for a fresh start. Things seem to be going well for her when she makes a new friend and gets invited to a party. I so wanted her to have a little “normal” in her life before the inevitable but unfortunately for her, it just wasn’t in the cards. Her first kiss turns into her worst nightmare and things quickly spiral out of control from there. I thought that Tessa handled herself rather well, all things considered.
One of my favourite things about starting any new series is learning about the author’s mythology and Erin’s werewolf lore is rich and fascinating. I enjoyed learning about the hierarchy within the pack and the differences between alphas and Alphas. I also found the bitten vs born angle to be quite interesting, that and the rarity of females went a long way in convincing me of Tessa’s importance within the Alpha Girl universe. Both these elements aren’t exactly new ideas in the werewolf genre but Aileen presents them in such a way that you can’t help but enjoy the ride. The pack’s gender stereotypes weren’t overly surprising given the male to female ratio but I enjoyed Tessa’s resistance to her and Dastien’s mate bond. There’s definitely no insta-love in this book; she makes him work for it!
I enjoyed the secondary characters as much, if not more than the main ones. Meredith, Tessa’s new BFF, is everything that a girl could want in a friend. She’s an oddball herself which makes it easy for her to sympathize with McCaide but instead of allowing her roomie to wallow in self-pity, she helps her to embrace her new, furry reality. I loved Axle too, Tessa’s big brother, and how supportive their parents are of their newly turned daughter. It was refreshing to see good role models for once in a genre that is usually quick to throw them under the bus. I actually rather enjoyed Imogene as well, this story’s mean girl. She definitely deserved the ass kicking McCaide gives her but I think she’s a redeemable character and I was happy with how the author ended things between them.
Becoming Alpha is a great introduction to Aileen Erin’s werewolves and a brilliant debut by this new author!