Genre: Urban Fantasy
Ten years ago, Deirdre Tombs died. When she was reborn the next day, Deirdre had become a shapeshifter who can't shift shapes. Nobody knows what animal she's supposed to be. She's definitely not a werewolf. The Alpha, Rylie Gresham, can't force her to transform like other members of her pack.
Now Deirdre is considered an omega, the weakest shapeshifter in the pack--a vulnerable position when Everton Stark demands tribute from Rylie. He wants to be the dominant Alpha. The only Alpha. And he plans to make her pack submit whether they want to or not. Stark can make every shapeshifter obey him by force of will alone.
Every shapeshifter except Deirdre.
The shifter who can't shift is the only hope for Rylie to win the war against Stark. It will take everything Deirdre has to survive undercover in his den. But can an omega's will be stronger than that of a charismatic, deadly Alpha like Everton Stark?
This was the first book I ever read by S.M. Reine, but it certainly won’t be the last.
Omega started out strong from the very beginning. The sense of urgency and thriller-like quality of the first chapter caught my interest and it didn't let go until the end. Even as I was thrown into a new world with little explanations, I never felt lost or confused. The author managed to set the story without resorting to info-dumping that might have slowed the pace and become dull. Bravo!
The three things I most admired about this book:
+ The author didn't pull any punches or sugar-coat things. There were lots of action, violence and gristle, yet they didn't seem like overkill. They were cohesive to the plot instead of being there just for shock value.
+ The unique heroine: Deidre wasn’t your typical special snowflake. She didn’t have the coolest powers and wasn’t the best at everything. In fact, she was an Omega, the “weakest” shapeshifter in a Pack. You’d think that would mean she was helpless and always in need of saving; you’d be wrong! Deidre might have been far from ranking as the strongest, fastest or most capable shifter, but she knew how to take care of herself.
It takes a special kind of strength to bounce back after being bullied and pushed around constantly. Deidre would fall countless times and get up again and again and again. She countered insults with sass and kept her head held high. And what she lacked in brute power she made up for with her good instincts and street-smarts. Except for the tiny detail of her SPOILER letting Stark inject her with drugs. I’m still unsure about how that contributed anything to the story.SPOILER
One of my favorite things about this book is how the protagonist openly called out her asshole Alpha on his abusive behavior and victim-blaming. Heck yeah!! This is vital and I want to see more of it in books (and real life).
I also appreciated how Deidre questioned the prejudices and unfairness of the system:
"It was indisputably crap that someone like Gage could satisfy his animal instincts, whereas Jolene could not."
+ I was unsure about the romantic plot-line when it first appeared, but eventually I decided I really liked what the author did with it. Deidre and her romantic interest's relationship got little page-time (it was secondary to the plot of the book) but I loved how realistically it was portrayed. It wasn’t romanticized. It wasn’t portrayed as a force that could battle and win over every bad thing in the world. It was even acknowledged that two people caring for each other wasn’t enough to cancel out all their sorrows and make them 100% happy.
"They were too broken to make the pieces of themselves complete each other. But for the night, they could make themselves feel just a little less hollow."
For a relationship to be healthy people have to learn to love themselves before they can love each other.
(BIG SPOILER AHEAD. DO NOT VIEW THE SPOILER IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THIS BOOK YET.) SPOILER Gage’s death: SO MANY FEELS! The fact that Deidre had to kill him slayed me! Still, I think that the way it was done was fitting. They were never going to work long term and Gage's self-hate was so ingrained that I don't think he could have gotten over it. SPOILER
Some extra goodies:
+ A boss who literally causes you to envision your worst nightmares. LOL! I found this so funny and amusing and I loved how the author described the scenes where reality and nightmare fused together.
+ Niamh and Deidre’s friendship was a great representation of the ambiguity of certain relationships. Sometimes people have different views on important subjects (not just whether to order pizza or Chinese takeout, but different political ideas or views on how social issues should be handled), yet that doesn’t mean they can’t care for each other and be friends.
+ Niamh was also a nice source of comic relief:
"You look like whatever a werewolf craps out after eating a deer," Niamh announced when Deidre collapsed at the lunch table."
A little bit of (hopefully) constructive criticism:
- There were some things towards the end that didn’t make sense to me and left me with mixed feelings/concerns about the future of the series. They are all VERY SPOILERY things, so if you haven’t read this book yet VIEW THE SPOILER AT YOUR OWN RISK: SPOILER 1) Rylie turning out to be alive seemed quite unrealistic to me. The whole plot of the story revolved around Everton’s master plan to kill her and the moment she went down during a fight with Gage NOBODY THOUGHT TO CHECK IF SHE WAS REALLY, TRULY DEAD? Given how many injuries shapeshifters can heal it didn’t seem right that everyone would assume that just because she'd fallen and didn’t get back up she was down for good.
2) Everton proclaiming Deidre would be his new Beta. Whaaaaat??? How does he expect to pull that off? It’s one thing for him to recognize D’s potential (for some mysterious reason), but to put her in change of/give her authority over all the Pack members but himself made no sense at all. Shapeshifters work on a strict “might is right”, “the strongest are at the top of the food chain” motto. As an Omega, Deidre was looked down on and bullied by most of the Pack through the book and I just don’t see how she’s going to enforce her new authority or how the Pack is going to respect her when they think her weak.
3) I also can't help but wonder... what did Deidre and Gage going undercover actually accomplish? They had a half-assed plan and didn’t gather any important intel other than the time Stark was going to attack Rylie (which didn’t end up being of any use to them since Deidre was powerless to stop Stark and Gage actually helped him while being under his compulsion. SPOILER
Omega needs a bit of polishing and editing to smooth out some plot-points, but overall I really enjoyed it. I especially loved the unconventional heroine and can’t wait to see what trials await her in the next installment of the series.