Young Adult Book Review – The Shadow Society

Title: The Shadow SocietyTheShadowSociety

Author: Marie Rutkoski

About: Darcy Jones was five when she was found abandoned outside a Chicago firehouse. She has no memories of her life before coming there and feels like she doesn’t belong anywhere. However, she had no way of knowing that she came from an alternate world where the Great Chicago Fire never occured and that she’s a Shade, one of the deadly creatures that terrorize the population by their ability to ‘ghost,’ or turn invisible besides a shadow. Darcy starts to have haunting memories when a new boy starts attending her high school. Conn, the new boy, confuses her by first looking at her like she was his enemy, and then changing to seem to really like her. Then he betrays her and she realizes that she can’t rely on anything, even herself. Darcy decides to sneak into the Shadow Society and reveal the Shades’ latest terrorist plot. What she uncovers will rock her world forever…

Review: I have to admit, I really enjoyed this book. I haven’t read anything quite like it, and it certainly has unique characters and a great plot. Although I read it over a span of a few days (due to school), I was always looking forward to reading the next page and figuring out what happened next. The small exerpt on the back of the book sort of turned me off due to its content, where Darcy’s foster mother throws a knife at her. Once reading it, though, it turned out to be a bit different than what it first seemed like.

Darcy, despite the fact that I don’t care for the name, was a pretty cool character. She has a strong fondness of art and loves to paint, even painting all the walls with all sorts of different things in her room while she stays in the Shadow Society. Her vulnerability at times really appealed to me and drew me in, making me feel for her and hope that she’d get out of whatever problem had just risen to meet her. She has a very, very strong phobia of fire, which caused interesting moments at times, like when she ran out of her bedroom with the intent to rescue her friends from their burning apartment… only to realize that it was just a small flame in a fireplace that was being watched over by one of her buddies, Raphael. Conn, well, has a fluctuating personality, to put it mildly. One minute he’s sweet and almost acts like a little kid, and the next he’s betraying Darcy… during a kiss. Of course, their romance was inevitable… Anyway, once he found out more about her, he even told her he’d quit his job for her despite the fact that he had worked toward his position for his whole life. Like Darcy, he was part of the child care systems (a.k.a. he was an orphan). Also, he’s a terrible cook. There are quite a few other characters that didn’t play very major parts that I’ll just touch on. Darcy’s three best friends were Jims, Lily, and Raphael. Jims is a bit of a science fiction nut, and is always talking about different alien things. He’s also a huge video game addict. Lily is… interesting. She’s an artist, like Darcy, which is how they met. She dyes her hair different colors and is a bit of a rebel. I didn’t like her too much mainly for a reason I’ll mention later. Raphael seems nice, and he has a bit of a crush on Darcy that he’d never admit. He wants the best for her, though, even if it means she loves Conn instead of him. Taylor is a girl who came along with them for a short time. She’s a snob who only really seems to care about clothes and makeup, though it’s possible she has a nice side that’s hidden away. Orion is a Shade who is in love with Darcy. However, he’s a bit of a jerk and gets very demanding if she doesn’t give in to what he wants. He also has no sense of personal space/privacy. Savannah is a Shade who dislikes Darcy at first, but gets to be quite fond of Darcy after a while. Marsha is Darcy’s foster mom who is a bit… odd… but nice. If I was in the foster system, I wouldn’t mind having her for a foster mother. There are a lot more characters that I didn’t cover, but I should probably move on…

Huge bonus was that I cannot recall them swearing much, if at all. It’s possible that one or two are slipping my memory, but the language is quite clean. There are no scenes hinting at sexuality besides Darcy and Conn sleeping on a couch together. Trust me, it goes no further than SLEEPING. As mentioned above, there are so many well-developed characters, and a very good, unique, and interesting plot. I really liked pretty much everything about it. It certainly kept me guessing on what was going to happen next.

However, there’s a little bit of description of torture in one part, though it is quite vague and only gives you the general idea of what happened. Also there’s one scene where Darcy follows Conn into a locker room and, although she turns away, he undresses without knowing she’s there. There’s also a scene of memory where it describes a small amount of when an entire hospital is gassed and a huge amount of people are killed, from the elderly to the newborns. As I said above, I didn’t like the character Lily because she’s a smoker. It might just be me in that, but I didn’t like that much. There’s only one scene where she’s smoking, and she offers it to Darcy who refuses it. There’s also the terror described when Darcy is surrounded by fire, but really there isn’t too much to say here.

All in all, I really, really loved this book. I think anyone into fantasy would also enjoy it. I’d probably recommend this book to people 13 or 14+, as I think they’ll be the ones that would enjoy and understand it more. Really, though, if they’re mature, it could probably go down to perhaps 12. It also might come in handy to know some of your Chicago history…

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Young Adult Book Review - The Shadow Society, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating


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