Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Review: The Shadow Society

THE SHADOW SOCIETY
Marie Rutkoski
Paranormal Young Adult
416 pages
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Available now
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Darcy Jones doesn’t remember anything before the day she was abandoned as a child outside a Chicago firehouse. She has never really belonged anywhere—but she couldn’t have guessed that she comes from an alternate world where the Great Chicago Fire didn’t happen and deadly creatures called Shades terrorize the human population.

Memories begin to haunt Darcy when a new boy arrives at her high school, and he makes her feel both desire and desired in a way she hadn’t thought possible. But Conn’s interest in her is confusing. It doesn’t line up with the way he first looked at her.

As if she were his enemy.

When Conn betrays Darcy, she realizes that she can’t rely on anything—not herself, not the laws of nature, and certainly not him. Darcy decides to infiltrate the Shadow Society and uncover the Shades’ latest terrorist plot. What she finds out will change her world forever . . .


MY THOUGHTS 
The Shadow Society is a story that starts out with us walking down a familiar path, a new boy arriving at school and instantly giving off hostile vibes whenever he’s in the presence of our protagonist, but before too long this tale seems to meet a fork in the road, and luckily for us, chooses to deviate from that familiar path and veer off into the darkness and mystery of the unknown. Acting as the catalyst for our shift in circumstances is Conn’s painful betrayal of Darcy, luring her into a vulnerable position (a particular cruelty given her lengthy history of being unwanted as she bounced from foster home to foster home) and then figuratively stabbing her in the back, bleeding every ounce of trust out of her and injecting her with the poison of constant suspicion – a sickness that further impairs an already stunted ability to put faith in those around her not to do her harm. Thus, we spend much of our time reading with our emotions at full boil, with anger, resentment, and finally a spark of hope blending together to ensure we can’t turn the pages fast enough.

Darcy is a young woman we’re not sure we’re going to care for after our somewhat rocky start with her, her attraction to a boy who seems to greatly dislike her and is repeatedly inexplicably harsh causing us to roll our eyes a bit in frustration. After he uses her feelings to shred the innocence that is her ignorance of her past thanks to her memory loss and replaces it with a brutal and physically violent new reality, we find ourselves solidly in her corner, impressed with how she deals with the pain he’s caused. Instead of seeking to inflict pain back on Conn (though he rightly deserves it), she stays level-headed, using her sharp tongue for a few well-aimed cuts and then backing off before she says or does something more than she can live with.

Her shaken trust is something that reverberates through the pages and rattles us to our bones, our startled anger that Conn couldn’t initially see the heart of the girl through the propaganda he’s been fed something that keeps our blood simmering throughout. Conn, for his part, is painfully brilliant at incurring our wrath and then soothing our heated tempers with small acts of kindness, forcing our hearts to plummet to our feet one page only to force a lump into our throats at his seeming earnestness the next. Though Darcy’s anger subsides a bit before ours, it still takes her a while to see Conn in a different light, and it’s an incredibly tense and rewarding journey we experience as two people on opposite sides of a line dare to put their toes right up to it and eventually step over together.

The one minor complaint with this story that keeps the rating from being higher is the lack of explanation for the utter hatred between humans and Shades. Yes, the Shades are depicted as a paranormal terrorist organization and therefore don’t necessarily need a logical list of reasons for their actions, but we’re given absolutely no information as to what has caused the rift, or how humans discovered the existence of Shades in the first place. Was it simply a fear of that which is different that caused humans to spurn the Shades and earn their brutal retaliation, or was there an event that sparked a torch that still burns? We are given an explanation for many aspects of a Shade’s existence, just not the cause of their feelings, leaving us floundering without a foundation to stand on with regard to the war. Small drawback aside, The Shadow Society is intense and intriguing, and I am greatly looking forward to whatever Ms. Rutkoski chooses to create for us next.

Rating: 4/5

38 comments:

  1. I don't know, it sounds like these characters would drive me nuts! I have read a few different reviews now where the descriptions of them really make me think this could be a book I would want to throw. However, the story sounds great! I have heard others say its almost like a bit TOO much was crammed in but you didn't seem to have that problem so its possible I would pick this one up at the library and give it a shot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know it sounds that way, but once you get in there and start to understand why they do the things they do, it's easy to root for them:) I didn't feel like too much was crammed into one story, I just would have liked some reasoning behind the hatred between the two groups.

      Delete
  2. Agreed my friend!!! Intense and Intruiging! And .. of of the best things about this book were the characters! Frustrating? Yes, but also amazingly awesome in their development :) I loved Conn! Once I got over the initial schock:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahah same! He had some groveling to do to get back in my good graces, but I understood where he was coming from and I couldn't not forgive him:)

      Delete
  3. I thought this was a pretty cool book but due to the characters I just didn't feel connected. I wanted to care, was ready to fall in love, but didn't.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It happens:) I felt connected to them, but it took me a little while to get there!

      Delete
  4. Man do you review this book way better than I ever could! You summed up everything SO WELL. I can also get the wanting more explanation of the hatred of Shades, but I think if you look at history, no hatred has a definitive answer except that we fear what is different.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're exactly right, but for some reason, in books, I like there to be an explanation. I have no idea why. I'm like a little kind when reading, asking "why?" every 5 minutes:)

      Delete
  5. Haven't heard of this one, but the betrayal thing has me very intrigued. Of course, you write such great reviews I can't help but want to read it. Another one for the TBR.

    Heather

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you give this one a try Heather, I really liked it! I was a little worried because it was reading really familiar in the beginning, but then everything shifted and it became it's own really fantastic story:)

      Delete
  6. another one added to my list.=)

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love the cove for this book, the story sounds great too. Great review! ^^

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't it gorgeous? Love the colors:)

      Delete
  8. Beautiful review, my friend :) Even though I have yet to read this, I am itching to slap Conn senseless and then dig deep through his brain to find out exactly what kind of person he is. Can't keep off a mystery after all :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Right? There was many a time I wanted to slap him as well, but he's kind of gifted at wearing down people's defenses and I couldn't quite maintain my anger as long as I wanted to:)

      Delete
  9. It sounds like a solid story. Maybe further along in the series she will say why the Shades are so hated. Though like you, I like to know. I want to decide to hate them all on my own :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I believe this is a stand alone (much to my chagrin, I would love more from this world), so I think that aspect is just going to be kind of open to interpretation. I like my solid, concrete answers though, but I know the open aspect of it will work for a lot of people!

      Delete
  10. Awesome review.
    That does sound like an important thing to leave out. Interesting concept.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Aww, I hate when important things aren't explained well! World-building is one of those qualities I need 100% in a book, so I hate that it's not in this one. Still, I'm glad the characters were engaging and this is a fantastic review as always, dear!(:

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hmmm...I've read some mixed reviews of this. I'm curious, but I would be very frustrated by lack of explanation of the hatred between the two groups.

    ReplyDelete
  13. YAY! So glad you enjoyed this book. For me, the idea of it is unique and very interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I'm so glad this one veered off the familiar, well trodden road, Jenny. I'm curious about the betrayal now. I'll check and see if my library is going to be ordering this one. Thanks for putting it on my radar.

    ReplyDelete
  15. This book sounds seriously awesome !! Thanks for the brilliant review Jenny ;)

    ReplyDelete
  16. Fantastic review Jenny. Wow, it is a bit discerning that the reason for the animosity is unexplained, but I'm glad it was a mostly good book. It sounds like a gripping and original story. :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. I'm glad to see a positive review on this one since I've been seeing so many mixed reviews that I'm starting to think if I should read it. I'm happy too that even with the rocky start this book change it's direction from the all to familiar road. Although I'm a little worried with the characters, it seems like they can push my emotions to the limits especially Conn. But hopefully as it seems like you have eventually forgiven him it would work out for me. Fantastic review as always, Jenny! :D

    ReplyDelete
  18. In regards to lacking explanations: I think very few books can actually pull this off. (In the sense that a very well-written world will lack explanation but be SO UTTERLY CONVINCING that, while you wonder, it is easy to accept the world the way it is.)

    Based on your review, I think I might want to smack Darcy and Conn, though. (Or I just want to smack someone and they'd be there. I don't know. It's hard to say.)

    ReplyDelete
  19. You have convinced me. How? By telling me about Conn. He sounds so complicated and I'm so curious. Gotta meet him and find out what is going on. I might be able to handle the lack of explanation now that I know that I won't get it in this book.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Wow, I didn't really think I'd pick this up but after your description of this complicated relationship with Conn and Darcy, I'm totally hooked. I'm dying to know what happened with these two. Wonderful review Jenny. :)

    ReplyDelete
  21. I could do with a bit of intensity :D

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hmmmm...Sounds like a great story with not so great characters? I love the intensity you describe but worry that I will get too annoyed by the character's choices and the unexplained details.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Yay I'm so happy this book worked out for Jenny, I was really interested in picking this up a while back, but then these negative reviews started trickling in and I felt all unsure about it. But again with your wonderful review you have managed to sway me in giving this a shot. I especially like the sound of how this book deviates from the norm! :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. I've been quite wishy-washy about this book for some reason though with both you and Danny loving it, I think I need to get over whatever's holding me back! Love a good sharp-tongued character even though she sounds like a bit of a pill at times.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I've seen mixed reviews for this one so I guess I'm going to have to give this a try to see whether I like it or not. Do you think not much info is given about the Shades because this might become a series? It's a standalone for now, right?

    ReplyDelete
  26. I just read a review about how even though it starts off really typical that it quickly turns quite interesting, and it sounds like you agree with that. Not sure that this one will move automatically into my tbr pile, but it's definitely one to keep in mind.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Intense and intriguing! Love that, but I know the part about the hate not being explained would be a niggling point but I really like the sound of this one!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Okay, so I'm not sure I like Conn based on your review, but so long as he isn't that way for the entire book and gains some sense, then I could probably deal. Even though I am one who easily becomes frustrated when I am not given sufficient answers, I am definitely intrigued by the premise... I think I'll add this to my "maybe" pile! Very helpful review, Jenny!

    ReplyDelete