The above quote pretty much sums up the core plot of Pride, the third book in Rachel Vincent's Shifters series. In the first two books, Stray and Rogue we are introduced to the werecat community, specifically to Faythe's story. Faythe is one of very few female werecats and she's in the midst of discovering an identity and purpose for herself. That identity is at odds with the usual pattern of a female werecat's life, which is to marry young and have many children. Instead Faythe attended college, then returned to take up the traditionally male role as a pride enforcer. When she's placed on trial for turning a human and then murdering him, her role and worth are called into question."What do you want me to say? 'Hey Marc, it turns out you were right. If I'd married you instead of going to school, they'd think I was worth what it costs to feel me. But since I'm only as valuable as my uterus--which is currently unoccupied--this time next week, I'll probably have gone the way of the dodo bird.'"--pg. 57, Pride by Rachel Vincent
I don't mind a feminist theme in urban fantasy. Even though this book is a little heavy handed about it, I enjoyed the premise of a young woman trying to prove and defend herself to a very patriarchal justice system.
The entire plot centers around the trial, which means that there are more politics and talks than action and violence. This suits the underlying theme well, and makes the book a good bridge in the series. However, it does have an unnecessarily slow pace--some of the trial details could have been cut to speed things along.
I find Faythe to be likeable and irritating by turns. I think the central problem is that she's 23, but acts more like a girl in her mid-teens. She's petulant, self involved, impulsive, and short sighted. It's all well and good for an author to give her lead character room to grow, but in this case Faythe borders on unlikeable. This is all balance only slightly by the fact that I wanted her to prevail because of her unique position in her society. In other words, were she not the only female of her species with a perceivable back bone and personality that stood out, I might find her truly loathsome. As it is, her behavior is only barely tolerable.
This brings me to the relationships, both romantic and otherwise. Marc has to be one of the most ill treated heroes I've ever encountered. Faythe wants to be with him, but on her own terms (i.e she refuses even the most surface level commitment). Not only are they completely dysfunctional as a couple, they don't seem to work all that well as a team. Even though Marc outranks her and has more experience, Faythe doesn't listen to him and rarely obeys him. I really don't care for them as a couple. Then there's Jace, the third corner in the love triangle just waiting to happen. I despise love triangles. Unless the author handles them with the utmost grace and originality they are the cheapest of romantic conflicts. The non-romantic relationships interested me far more. Faythe's and her father don't always see eye to eye because she doesn't understand his wisdom, but her admiration for him is apparent. A new character, Kaci the teenaged tabby, is introduced. Faythe's attempts to bond with her are actually quite touching and entertaining.
This is one of those books where the good elements only just manage to outweigh the bad. I still like this series well enough, but I'm not overly eager to finish it. 2.5 stars.