BITTEN vs STRAY Smackdown!

armstrong1.jpgstray-cover.jpgA friend recently came across a review of Rachel Vincent’s STRAY, in which the allegation is made that STRAY bears some plot/character similarities to Kelley Armstrong’s BITTEN, and asked me about it. (She has read BITTEN, but not STRAY.) At first I had to admit there are some similarities, but enough differences that I don’t think it matters. I also have to admit to having the same feeling when I finished STRAY, but it quickly went away as I recalled the differences– mainly the authors’ voices/styles and the attitudes of the main characters.

But I thought I would put it to you readers, to hear your opinions, and I’d like to have a closer look at the similarities.

(Smackdown behind the cut.)

Here are the similarities as noticed by my friend:


Elena is trying to live away from the pack in a “normal” life.

Females are rare.

“Family” has private estate to escape to and run free.

At the estate, there’s an ex-lover who is close to the father figure.

There are rogue werewolves causing problems.


Faythe is trying to live away from the litter/family in a “normal” life.

Females are rare.

Family has private estate to escape to and run free.

At the estate, there’s an ex-lover who is close to Faythe’s father.

There are stray werecats causing problems.

Clearly, the similarities are there. But we can debate the “there’s no such thing as an original plot” issues later.

As I said, the main differences come in the attitudes of the main characters. Elena is rightfully pissed off about being turned into a werewolf– she was bitten and not given a choice about it. She has a lot to work through. But Faythe was born a werecat, and really should have dealt with being a werecat and all that comes with it by the time she was college-bound. Throughout much of the book, she comes off as a spoiled 16-y.o. rather than as a young adult who’s working through her “were” issues. (And while I found this to be a turn off, I also found Vincent’s writing to be worth a second look– I really liked the way Faythe pulled herself together through the climax of the story. I won’t be passing up a chance to read ROGUE. I’m hoping Faythe will have worked out most of her issues and be more like-able in the second volume of the series.)

I also don’t believe the similarities can hurt either author. The readers of one are likely to enjoy the other, and at a rate of one book per year, there’s plenty of room for were-animal reading.

If you’ve read both BITTEN and STRAY, what do you think? Is the comparison valid? And how do you feel about the two books having similar plots? Did it bother you at all? Did you notice?

If you’ve read one or the other, or neither, what do you think? Do the similarities put you off reading the books? Or are you intrigued enough to have a look?


5 comments on “BITTEN vs STRAY Smackdown!

  1. aye luffs both 🙂

    For me, Bitten has a lot of sentimental value. I read it in 2003, and was really my introduction to the UF genre. KA still remains one of my favourites of any genre.

    I read Stray in 2007, so I had time to separate the two in my head. (My sister, however, read them back to back.) For me, it’s special because it demonstrates character development – and that ain’t true for every book I’ve read 😉 What won me over was when Faythe was abducted, because I love reading stuff set in captivity, because that’s when psychology majorly comes into play.

    Oops. That was a spoiler. Sorry, everyone.

    But since I like both, I’m continuing to read both series, and will keep doing so. I recommend that you all do the same, but we all know that my opinion means nothing in the big scheme of things 😉

    Have a lovely day! 🙂

  2. I read and enjoyed both Bitten and Stray, but they had a very different feel to me. Elena was a much more mature character versus Faythe (though Faythe’s character developed a lot from the beginning to the end), and Clay had a really twisted childhood, whereas Mark didn’t. Plus, wasn’t Elena the *only* female werewolf in Bitten’s world, whereas in Stray, tabbies were rarer, but by no means limited to Faythe? There were more differences, of course, and I guess that’s why the two novels didn’t seem that similar to me. Just my two cents.

    Also, Kelley Armstrong blurbed Stray, so clearly she wasn’t uncomfortable with any perceived similarities. You’d think if anyone would be qualified to judge whether Stray was too close to Bitten, it would be Kelley Armstrong.

  3. I too read both but with a great deal of time in between. I did not notice the similarities until they were spelled out above. However, I agree that the authors have a very different voice. And front hints I’ve gotten from Vincent’s website it is clear that Faythe’s story will continue and develop in Rogue. I believe she plans to stay focuses on the werecats, whereas Armstrong examines all the women of the “otherworld.” Though there are similarities, I still like both books and will continue to read both series. I think they will continue to differentiate as both series continue. IMHO.

  4. Jeaniene,
    Yes, that’s what I thought, too. (And I just did a quick bit of research and Elena is the *only* known female werewolf.)

    (I’ve been following Rachel’s blog virtually since it began, and I’m fuzzy on this but I thought she didn’t read Bitten until after she’d written Stray. I knew about the blurb– and I also know how rare a KA blurb is– but I have a feeling Rachel read very few werewolf books, if any at all, before writing Stray.)

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