Thursday, 21 October 2010

Shade Review

      -  Jeri Smith-Ready
Publisher: UK – Simon and Schuster
Like everyone born after the Shift, sixteen year-old Aura can see and talk to ghosts. She’s always found this mysterious ability pretty annoying, wishing only that she could reverse it and have some peace. But when her boyfriend, Logan, dies unexpectedly, Aura is forced to reconsider her connections to the dead...Devastated by Logan’s sudden death, Aura realises that her ability to see ghosts might actually be a blessing. Surely a violet-hued spirit Logan is better than no Logan at all? But just when Aura is coming to terms with having a ghost for a boyfriend, she starts developing feeling for her new friend Zachary, who is understanding, supportive and, most of all, alive. Each boy holds a secret of the Shift – and it’s time for Aura to choose between loving the living or embracing the dead...
My copy of Shade is a prize from the Book Smugglers a couple of weeks ago. I picked it up mostly because it was light (in weight!) and looked easy enough to read while waiting for new furniture to be delivered to my new flat – the idea being that I could put it down to assemble flat-pack as and when needed. I was wrong. This book has a fascinating premise that I found myself thinking about whenever I left off reading. What would happen if people born after a certain time could see and hear ghosts? The world would be divided into two – pre-shifters and post-shifters. At first the post-shifters would be in the minority but over time that would change. The setting for Shade is when the first post-shifters are just reaching sixteen, not quite in a position to change anything, but the pre-shifters have had to accept it and adapt as best as they think. The world includes black-box material which is like ghost kryptonite – they can’t go anywhere near it. Those post-shifters have to translate for those unable to hear ghosts. The deceased now have a say in their funereal and are able to sue for wrongful death. Jeri Smith-Ready paints a detailed world where everything is changing after the Shift and I couldn’t stop thinking about what-ifs? What if you were one of the first to see ghosts? What if you were one of the last? How would you react if your dead son returns but you couldn’t see or speak to him? These questions kept me thinking long after I stopped reading.
Regarding the characters, I loved Aura and how conflicted she is. As a teenager she is torn between her dead boyfriend, who she’s known all her life and her new living friend, who seems to understand her instinctively. Her conflict and some of the mysteries of her life are intriguing but at the same time she is a regular teenager who worries about how she looks, her reputation and what to do with her life after school. I could really emphasise with Aura and thought Zach was a great character as well. I wasn’t as keen on Logan as he seemed a little selfish at first but this changed as the story progressed and by the end I was hoping for a happy ending. And there is. Sort of. I hope there is a sequel or that this is the first of a series as there are so many questions left unanswered (the mystery surrounding Aura’s mothers, megaliths and Zach’s Dad). At the same time I feel there was a satisfying emotional conclusion – even if the last page has a slight cliff hanger! I’m looking forward to another book in the same world with some great characters.
Recommended for fans of LJ Smith & Stephanie Meyer. 8 out of 10.

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