Original review posted here: http://www.yourentertainmentcorner.com/?p=28339.
This novel is not what I expected in the continuing saga of the Ashes trilogy. While I enjoyed reading Shadows, I didn’t love it. I was anticipating the resolution of some of the story arcs from the first installment and felt Bick only gave us a little teaser. Yes, we find out what happened to Tom; yes, we jump back into Alex’s story where we left off with her encountering the unthinkable and yes, we get a cameo from Mina the dog (I love that damn dog). Shadows is long. There are approximately 82 chapters (not all very long, but still) within its 525 pages; I kept thinking things would work out before I reached the final page but they only seem to get worse. Why do I continue to harp on the length of Bick’s books? I want to know why there is so much information dumped on us leading to nothing new being learned. Then there’s the matter of having a hard time getting through the book because some chapters seem choppy and end in a cliffhanger. I get what Bick was trying to do by pulling readers from one part of the story, keeping the suspense front and center but after a while, it got to be a bit taxing. I just wanted some answers and don’t think I ever got them.
Alex continuously displays what a brave young woman she is though she doesn’t always make the best decisions (she literally walks into trouble). The tension and longing she has for getting away from her predicament and getting back to Tom is palpable. It frustrated me to the point where I almost couldn’t take reading her exploits. There were a few times I wanted to smack her and point her in the right direction when I remembered I was reading a book and it wasn’t real. Just goes to show you how good of a writer Bick is. She sucks you into her tales and makes you see, taste and smell every scene. But that’s not always a good thing…
Shadows reads like filler and the deviations from the main story threw me off balance. If you take notes, you’ll catch the hints being dropped early on in the story. The mystery element is still in full effect, but readers can probably figure some things out with close observation.
The constant switching between multiple POVs was confusing. The story is told in third person and gives us a glimpse into the lives of so many characters that it’s hard to keep up with what’s going on. I wanted more Alex and Tom and their struggle in this new world. I missed Alex’s voice and didn’t feel I connected with her character as much as I did in Ashes because she lost some of her spark.
Why are the Amish mentioned so much in this book? Are they the big to-do in the final installment? I have my theories, but I don’t think I really care.
Nothing is normal anymore in this world, but you do find people who have managed to keep up appearances (and yes, this is a hint). Enter the outcasts and renegades, and various new characters who play into a bigger plot point (which I shall not divulge here because I don’t know what it is)—the militia (headed by a slimy, manipulative, psychopath named Finn); the saviors of the world (groups of kids being trained as soldiers), and the Chuckies (who are now cannibalistic super soldiers and not called the Changed outside of Rule). Yup, the Chuckies in Shadows are so far advanced I can’t wrap my head around how and why that’s happened.
In case you haven’t read Ashes, the Changed/Chuckies are teenagers who turned cannibalistic after an EMP rocked the world, bringing an end to civilization. These freaky teens were already exhibiting odd behavior like hunting and tormenting their prey, but in Shadows they are almost unrecognizable as the eat/feed/kill machines we’ve come to know—communicating, organizing in groups and participating in sexual activity. Not only did that last tidbit throw me for a loop, it made me wonder where Bick was going with these un-zombielike zombies.
Bick has a flair for description and gore. She doesn’t overdo it with too many flowery words, yet she gets her point across. Unless, of course, she’s talking about the Changed. As an aside, I was grossed out quite a few times while reading about them and their eating habits. If you have a weak stomach, this is not the book for you. Bick goes into excruciating detail when describing how they acquire and ingest flesh. I winced, cringed, and looked away from the pages quite a few times during the most gruesome passages. Just a fair warning.
I enjoyed Shadows but felt a little let down. There’s no time to be bored as the action is non-stop, and ever-changing. I was surprised to learn some of the twists thrown into the plot; though nothing was predictable, it sure was aggravating. As someone who’s used to reading books where some kind of resolution is reached at the end of the story, I was disappointed with Shadows because I was left with more questions than answers. I highly recommend you re-read Ashes before starting Shadows as you might forget who half the people are going into the first chapter. I did and I’m not ashamed to say I had to go back and take notes.
I was provided an ARC by Netgalley for review.