Saturday, October 13, 2012

Review: Shadows

If you haven't yet read Ashes, you might want to find a spoiler-free review of Shadows.

by Ilsa J. Black (Website | Facebook | Twitter)
Series: Ashes Trilogy, #2
Published: September 25th, 2012 by Egmont
Pages: 528 (Hardcover)
Contains: Lots of gore, zombie like people
The Apocalypse does not end. The Changed will grow in numbers. The Spared may not survive.

Even before the EMPs brought down the world, Alex was on the run from the demons of her past and the monster living in her head. After the world was gone, she believed Rule could be a sanctuary for her and those she’d come to love. But she was wrong. 

Now Alex is in the fight of her life against the adults, who would use her, the survivors, who don’t trust her, and the Changed, who would eat her alive.

Shadows starts right where Ashes left off, which if you read Ashes,  is a really good thing. After having read the first book I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Shadows - if only to know about the very first scene.  This book adds on to Ashes well and delivers in some ways that Ashes didn’t, but it also has some of its own short comings.

In Ashes the main narrator is Alex, and the book is consistently from her point of view. This gave me a really solid understanding of what she was thinking. This was something that I thought Ashes did better than Shadows.In Shadows there are at least four different narrators, and the chapters switch between them without warning. Along with all the secrecy surrounding different characters and the double crossing and lies, this makes the story get really confusing at some points. There were several times that I had to go back and reread sections before they made sense. This could have been due to my kindle, cause images don’t always transfer over properly, so if there were little images saying which character chapter was about I may have missed them.

The settings and world of Shadows are pretty much the same as those of Ashes and are done just as well, if not even better.  Each setting the characters encounter is brought to life with a startling amount of detail. I really liked the way that different characters would describe the same place in very different ways, which provided an interesting glimpse into their worldview.  The characters were my one issue in this book, it felt like too many people were introduced and it made it difficult to keep track of who was with whom and who was allied to whom.  If you’ve read Ashes then you know the start of the plot between Chris, Jess, and Rule and in this book that only gets more confusing as new aspects are revealed to some characters but not others.

Something that I really like in this book is the continuing threat of the Change and how the Changed are still changing, it was an interesting difference from many “zombie” books; where the zombies remain static in terms of abilities and intelligence.

The one thing that I feel Shadows did way better than Ashes was keeping up the pace of the book. As the book goes on it maintains a lot of excitement and moves quickly, unlike Ashes which starts slow and has several points were it bogs down.  This was a positive change and made it easier to stay intrigued than it was with Ashes.  One other thing that happens is that as certain characters have to fight for their lives, with increasing frequency, the encounters become more graphic than those in Ashes, but in light of the changes in the characters’ personality changes from Ashes to Shadows this makes sense.

I thought Shadows was a fast paced intriguing novel, that while it suffered some from an introduction of so many characters, and what could be seen as an overly complicated plot, is nonetheless a great read with a fantastically illustrated world and an original premise.  Also it set the series up for a great conclusion in the third book. One last thing, the new covers with the girl’s face on them are awesome, and I’m not normally the kind of person that cares about what books look like too much. 

Overall: I thought Shadows was an excellent addition to the series, with a faster paced and more intense plot. But the number of POVs and heavy focus on a large cast of characters made the novel a bit confusing and hard to follow.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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