Author: Jeri Smith-Ready
Genre: YA Paranormal
Series: Shade (Book 1)
Publication Date: May 4, 2010
Format: Paperback, 336 Pages
ISBN-10: 1416994076 (Simon Pulse)
ISBN-13: 978-1416994077 (Simon Pulse)
Love ties them together. Death can’t tear them apart.
Best. Birthday. Ever. At least, it was supposed to be. With Logan’s band playing a critical gig and Aura’s plans for an intimate after-party, Aura knows it will be the most memorable night of her boyfriend’s life. She never thought it would be his last.
Logan’s sudden death leaves Aura devastated. He’s gone.
Well, sort of.
Like everyone born after the Shift, Aura can see and hear ghosts. This mysterious ability has always been annoying, and Aura had wanted nothing more than to figure out why the Shift happened so she can undo it. But not with Logan’s violet-hued spirit still hanging around. Because dead Logan is almost as real as ever. Almost.
It doesn’t help that Aura’s new friend Zachary is so understanding—and so very alive. His support means more to Aura than she cares to admit.
As Aura’s relationships with the dead and the living grow ever complicated, so do her feelings for Logan and Zachary. Each holds a piece of Aura’s heart…and clues to the secret of the Shift.
Quick & Dirty: Unfortunately, Shade is mired with clichéd characters and lackluster worldbuilding. The unique and intriguing premise will string you along, but the book isn’t complete on its own.
Opening Sentence: “You can hear me, can’t you?”
Excerpt: Chapters 1-7
The Shift is a complicated event that no one can seem to explain. Because of The Shift, everyone under sixteen can see and communicate with ghosts. Unfortunately for Aura, she falls into that category. With her rocker boyfriend, Logan, on the brink of stardom, Aura is feeling the heat. Knowing that Logan battles skanks day in and day out, Aura wants to solidify her place in his life. It’s settled — the couple plans a day to finally get in some much desired sexy time. Naturally, Logan blows his big moment. After indulging in alcohol, Logan finds himself unable to rise to the challenge. Trying to remedy this situation, Logan accidentally kills himself. Now that Logan has died, he’s a ghost. Aura must help him pass on to the other side or Logan is in danger of turning Shade. Some ghosts turn Shade if they can’t accept their fate and gain closure. In this world, becoming a malevolent ghost is really bad news. Enter most commonly used YA trope, Zach, the new boy at school. As the story progresses, Aura soon finds herself torn between her ghost boyfriend and the hot Scottish boy, Zach.
Several of my friends have read this book and loved it, but after reading Shade, I can honestly say that I don’t feel the same way. On the surface, I can see why some might be enamored by this ghostly tale. The premise is actually quite original and pretty interesting. The problem is that the worldbuilding is sorely lacking. This is such a missed opportunity because the most interesting aspects of the story surround an event known as The Shift. Another major point of contention is our protagonist, Aura.
Aura easily rises to the top of my most hated protagonists list. Most of the time, Aura behaved like a petulant child. As a reader, Aura’s sexual exploration felt exploited. Nothing felt authentic about her erratic behavior. It’s so patently clear that Aura isn’t ready for a more serious and sexual relationship with Logan or anyone else for that matter. Aura isn’t mature enough emotionally or mentally, yet the undercurrent of her sexual games plays persistently throughout the story. I’m not sure if it was an attempt to make the story edgy, but it failed miserably. I don’t have an issue with the portrayal of drug use, drinking or masturbating in this novel, but for some reason the way in which Aura passive aggressively uses her sexuality really disgusted me. To say that Aura is a cock tease is an understatement. Aura isn’t remotely sympathetic or likable.
Just about every character in this book falls into clichéd territory. Logan’s character had a lot of potential for depth and growth, but those two things never materialized. I wasn’t able to form a particularly good impression of Logan. He came off as a bit of a douche. I really liked Zach’s character despite his inconsistent portrayals. There’s a lot of mystery surrounding his background. In the beginning Zach started out sounding like an authentic teenage boy, but he quickly descended into a neutered chickification male. You know the kind – perfectly portrayed from the female perspective no matter the circumstance, when in reality you know your perspective suitor would tell you to piss off and easily find someone who actually gave a damn about him, his needs and feelings. I don’t understand the desire for some female writers to craft this chickification of boys. It’s not all sweetness and light or puppy dogs and ice cream, especially with the head games that Aura plays.
Fundamentally, Shade lacks real conflict. I was never really immersed in the story. While reading Shade, I kept thinking, where is the REAL conflict?! When will the story actually focus on details relating to The Shift? I had a hard time buying into the trumped up teenage angst. Character goals, motivations and conflicts just fell flat. Aura finds herself in what she considers complicated situations, all the while refusing to realize that it’s because of her ridiculous actions that she finds herself all out of sorts. Trust me, this gets old real quick. I had a hard time believing many of Aura’s choices.
Overall, I think Shade is just a so-so read. The premise is very interesting, but nothing significant happens. The heroine is an annoying narrator, making it nearly impossible for me at least to become truly invested in the story.
I rested my elbow on the back of the bench and inspected Zachary in what I hoped was a casual way. “You don’t look much like a science geek either,” I told him.
He lifted one brow while twitching a corner of his mouth. I realized how my words sounded — that I thought he was pretty too.
Unfortunately, I did. Not that it was a matter of opinion, except maybe to the legally blind.
“Where’s your kilt?” I asked him.
Zachary looked over my head, and I got the feeling he was trying not to roll his eyes. Then he moved closer, put his hand on the back of the bench near my shoulder, and leaned deep inside my personal space. “How about this,” he said in a low voice, “you don’t ask me about haggis and bagpipes, and I won’t ask you about garlic and Goodfellas.”
Megan laughed out loud. My fingers tightened on the edge of the bench to keep from hitting him. Not that he didn’t have a point.
“Okay, no stereotypes,” I said. “Deal.”
“So do you have a kilt?” Megan asked him. When I glared at her, she said, “What? He only said you couldn’t ask.” She looked at him. “So do you?”
Straightening up, Zachary rubbed the back of his neck and smirked. “I might, I might.”
God, he was gorgeous. And Scottish. But maybe kind of an ass.
The Shade Series:
FTC Advisory: Simon & Schuster provided me with a copy of Shade . No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. In addition, I don’t receive affiliate fees for anything purchased via links from my site.
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