By Kate Brian
Jan. 8th, 2012
Ages 14+ (YA)
For Review from Publisher
Synopsis via Goodreads
Rory Miller had one chance to fight back and she took it. Rory survived… and the serial killer who attacked her escaped. Now that the infamous Steven Nell is on the loose, Rory must enter the witness protection with her father and sister, Darcy, leaving their friends and family without so much as a goodbye.
Starting over in a new town with only each other is unimaginable for Rory and Darcy. They were inseparable as children, but now they can barely stand each other. As the sisters settle in to Juniper Landing, a picturesque vacation island, it seems like their new home may be just the fresh start they need. They fall in with a group of beautiful, carefree teens and spend their days surfing, partying on the beach, and hiking into endless sunsets. But just as they’re starting to feel safe again, one of their new friends goes missing. Is it a coincidence? Or is the nightmare beginning all over again?
When Shadowlands arrived randomly in my mail, I didn't know anything about it. When I saw Kate Brian was the author, my interest was sparked as I had heard so much about her various books. After reading the synopsis, I was anxious to get started on this one. Unfortunately, I remain disappointed. Not to say the book was bad, because it had some great qualities, but alas, the characters...*sighs in frustration*...they dragged it down for me.
Let's get the worst over with first. I was so frustrated with Rory as a protagonist. In the beginning, she was almost what I would call spineless at times and then later on she'd stand her ground, but border lining on bossy. There was no apparent development that brought on this change. Her personality was definitely more of the quiet nerdy type, which was fine. However the geek qualities almost felt forced and I really didn't feel like I saw much depth in her character. I just couldn't bring myself to feel anything for her. Well that is until she starts to realize something is going on in Juniper Landing and no one believes her. I felt her pain then, because that always sucks. Her sister Darcy, omg, I just wanted to slap her upside the head. She was such a...not nice sister. At all. Mean, selfish, careless. Every now and then she would show a slightly more tender side, and then gone in a flash. She was a little better towards the end but I still don't like her. I would have liked to have seen more of Rory and Darcy's father, especially considering the nature of the plot. Olive and Aaron were probably the only characters I felt any connection to but sadly they weren't around much and I found myself desperately wanting more from them. Then there were Krista, Tristan, Joaquin, and some others, all of whom had different personalities but felt underdeveloped. Last but not least is our villain, Steven Nell/Roger Krauss, whom I actually found somewhat interesting, though very creepy. I thought Brian's decision to do brief chapters from his perspective scattered throughout the book was a keen way to help distinguish this story.
Kate Brian doesn't hesitate to dive straight into the action. Shadowlands starts out at a fairly swift pace and maintains it smoothly throughout, even when the action slowed. With plot elements consisting of: an attack by a serial killer; an eerie mystery surrounding Rory's strange new island home and its residents; and some other very interesting tid bits that I can't discuss further without spoiling something, Brian has crafted a truly original and suspenseful story that was unlike anything I'd ever read before. The setting of Juniper Landing was vividly imagined and did a nice job of setting the overall tone for the story. This is one of those stories where the less you know about it going in to it, the better. I think my only problem with the plot was that in the first part of the book, I got this slight feeling of repetitiveness. Other than that, the plot was by far my favorite aspect of the book.
The writing style was good. Very good, even, and I liked it well enough. However nothing really stood out to me about it as being particularly great. Of course, there wasn't anything that I particularly disliked either, so that's good at least.
Okay now about the ending. There are several reviews dancing about on Goodreads that say little more than "WTF?!" in regards to the ending for Shadowlands. I'm sure that would have been my exact reaction too. That is, if I hadn't flipped to the back of the book--to see how many pages there were--and accidentally read the very last sentence. *face-palm* Whoops. That said, yes the ending is a huge, shocking cliffhanger. But I liked it. Brian definitely left me wanting to know more.
Characters: Underdeveloped, leaving me feeling quite indifferent.
Writing: Pretty good, though nothing really stood out one way or the other.
Plot: Twisted and suspenseful. Very inventive and original.
Ending: I'm sure if I hadn't accidentally spoiled it for myself, shocking!
1st in Series: Nice set up. Hoping to see more character development later on.
Enjoyment/Likability: Liked it pretty well but characters really kept me from liking it more.
Recommendable: I'd say it is worth the read. Especially for Kate Brian fans.
Overall: An exciting plot and good writing that were brought down by the static characters. I will be reading the next book in hopes that the characters start showing some dimension. Keep in mind, my opinions of the characters seems to be a less popular one than most.
Cover: Eerie and pretty.
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