Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Shadow, Shadow: Who would you trade to be saved? - Book review

Shadow, Shadow by V.B. Marlowe
(The Shadow Pines Trilogy #1)
Publication date: February 15th 2015
Genres: Mystery, Paranormal, Young Adult

Shadow, Shadow by V. B. Marlowe is the first instalment in The Shadow Pines trilogy and an amazing multi-faceted becoming-of-age novel about four school students given four Shadow Boxes on their sixteenth birthday. They, Harley, Teaghan, Gianna and Brock, are told that they have the power to remove one person from their lives by giving them to the shadows, which need to feed. However, they are later told that they must use the Shadow Boxes or someone close to them will be killed/taken by the shadows.

The novel opens in the middle of an action, giving immediate rise in tension from the first page and marking a strong opening as we see Brock Ethan being arrested.

"Everyone was used to me being in trouble, but Brock Ethan? He never did anything wrong."

Shortly after, Brock tells Harley to run and she takes off. We are then transported back to events that happened nine months earlier, when they first received the Shadow Boxes.

Narrated from the first person perspectives of Harley and Teaghan, Marlowe contrasts the girls' lives and choices. The author also sheds light on the Brock's and Gianna's choices and struggles through these two characters.

Harley is a rebellious character, often in trouble, grounded and into watching and writing horror movies. Her name reminds me of a Harley Davidson bike, which I often feel she is like in terms of making a statement. However, Harley has several problems and we see from the first chapter that she lacks fatherly affection.
Her mother disappeared and her father remarried Amy, a cruel and unfair stepmother, from Harley's perspective at least. Harley also has a trouble-making boyfriend, Nash, whom the reader immediately dislikes and deems the perfect candidate to be given to the shadows.

"I hadn't heard from Nash all week. That was typical with him. He called when he felt like it, and most of the time when I called him, he didn't answer his phone."

From the first chapters, we see how, despite her misfortunes and familial problems, Harley has more heart than any of the other characters. She has a hard time deciding who she should trade to the shadows, even though several options arise. She even cares for those who have hurt her and takes her time to think of the consequences of "trading lives".

Meanwhile, Teaghan is a geeky, lonely character. She is an introvert and would rather spend her life reading in her room; however, she is often picked on in school. Teaghan is the first to use her Shadow Box, and bit by bit her character changes.

"Happiness was a mythical creature that visited other people. I'd never seen it. Sometimes, I felt as if I was the only one who hadn't."

Marlowe does a stellar job in contrasting characters, especially Harley and Teaghan and later Gianna. I think she's done a splendid job with the "show don't tell" in her novel. I couldn't help but constantly compare and contrast the characters.

Another character, a sort of background character is Ava-kaya. She doesn't appear often but she has a major role to play as she is the one who first gives the students the Shadow Boxes. We also never learn how she got all four boxes at the same time. She is also the one with all the info about the shadows and Shadow Boxes, which she reluctantly gives out to Harley bit by bit.

“The four of you have been blessed with a great gift. Well, it’s a gift for you, but a curse for someone else.”

I liked how the Shadow Boxes show the true nature of the characters. Teaghan, for example, begins to appear in a new light to herself and to others.

Connected by the boxes, each character is tested differently throughout the novel and given different motives and motivations to use their Shadow Boxes. Brock and Gianna's struggles appear towards the end but also shed light on their different characters.

"The greatest gift in the world. Trading is what keeps the shadows appeased. It keeps the shadows in their place."

My only problem with the novel is that the prologue or first chapter does not connect with the last, where we see a new character called Michael that we've never encountered before. I don't feel a thirteen-year-old would feel the depth of the characters but that could just be me. (Blurb says for Ages 13 and up).

Both the narration and language are easy to navigate and light, helping the novel's quick pace, along with short chapters. The imagery, mostly similes, is well placed throughout the novel. Harley is a sarcastic character and her sarcasm adds to the occasional comic relief.

Overall: 4.75/5 stars – only because the first and last chapters didn't meet for me, but overall, I loved the novel and couldn't put it down. I look forward to the remaining instalments in the trilogy.

I also liked the cover, which was cute but mysterious at the same time.

Note: I free copy via Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. 

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