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The Shadow Society

The Shadow Society - “How can you interpret the behavior of others when you're a mystery to yourself?” When a review takes you a month to write, sometimes that is not a good sign. Maybe it’s because the book was so amazing that you could not put it into words, or maybe it was so bad that you feared putting words on a page. In some cases, though, it was because you sit there and think, “What actually happened in that book? Did I really care?”But you press on eventually you write the review. That’s what I’m doing right now, reviewing THE SHADOW SOCIETY. Luckily I jotted down some notes one morning while in a meeting at work. Now, as I sit here on a Saturday afternoon, sipping on Hawaiian Punch and eating a Christmas lollipop, I am left staring at my notes and at my ARC trying to make sense of it all.The first note I have is “very interesting premise”. THE SHADOW SOCIETY is the first book in a trilogy following Darcy, a girl raised in our world who turns out to be a “Shade”, a shadow creature from a parallel universe eradicated from ours by the Great Chicago Fire. And as I am a big fan of Fringe, I was sucked in by the plot, the synopsis, the idea that maybe this would be a great science fiction novel for teens. But I think that is about as far as it went. The synopsis showed great premise, but the story itself, the content between the covers, fell flat.Beyond the synopsis, THE SHADOW SOCIETY is a story about some very disparate things. Well, parallel universes and shades for one, but also inter-dimensional agencies, high tech that makes little or no sense, diversionary technological evolution based on one event that makes it seem like our universe skipped several hundred years, and poetry.The main issue with THE SHADOW SOCIETY is that it doesn’t actually start until page 86. Yes, things happen. Darcy goes to school, moons over a new boy, waxes poetic about her life, does an English project with her new boy toy. I almost DNFed it right off the bat. At page 86, though, the story zooms forward and suddenly we are catapulted into a new and exciting universe, until it slows down again. The pacing is very inconsistent. One moment we’re zinging through the story, and the next we have our MC moaning and whining about her love interests for 30 pages while nothing happens besides some chatting.There was no sense of urgency in this story, except for the times where things got urgent or secrets (many of which were obvious) were revealed. The double crosses aren’t well hidden in the story, and the foreshadowing is blatant. Also, some of the things that happen make no sense. None. Whatsoever.What saved this story to get three whole stars from me? Darcy. Man was she naïve, but at the same time, she was compelling and sympathetic – a girl who has lived a very tough life but is determined to change her stripes. She’s quite kick butt, take-n0-prisoners, trust few by the end, and I have to give her credit. For having no idea about the true colors of those around her, she does a good job getting herself out of problems, and over her fears, and out of the grasp of the bad guys after convenience leads her right to them.Speaking of the other characters, I kind of wavered on them. Some are awesome, but on the most part, forgettable. My notes say something about one half of the love triangle (yes, there is a love triangle that is resolved by the end) is a typical YA jerk, and the other’s characterization is completely weird and doesn’t stand up. The other characters fade into the background.Overall, THE SHADOW SOCIETY goes down in history as being average for me. I liked it, but it didn’t stand out from the crowd. I am interested in reading the next book (this is a series, right? It felt like a series), though, because the ending was a good one, albeit a bit unbelievable.VERDICT: Suspend your disbelief, put aside your prejudices against the extremely unlikely, and read THE SHADOW SOCIETY with a very open mind. When the action is on, this one has a LOT going for it.