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YA Book Review: 'The Shadow Society' by Marie Lutkoski

Posted on the 12 September 2012 by Pocketfulofbooks @PocketfulofBooks

The Shadow Society by Marie Lutkoski
YA Book Review: 'The Shadow Society' by Marie Lutkoski
Published: October 16th, 2012 Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Source: Received ARC From Publisher Format: E-Book Pages: 416
Cover Art

I very much like this cover, and think it is interesting and quite mysterious. You can't really tell much about the book from looking at it, just that it involves a city (Chicago) and a girl's shadow. I like the lack of  a huge photograph of a girl which is what a lot of YA covers seem to be these days. Also: nice blue. I enjoy that shade.

Plot Synopsis

Darcy Jones doesn’t remember anything before the day she was abandoned as a child outside a Chicago firehouse. She has never really belonged anywhere—but she couldn’t have guessed that she comes from an alternate world where the Great Chicago Fire didn’t happen and deadly creatures called Shades terrorize the human population.
Memories begin to haunt Darcy when a new boy arrives at her high school, and he makes her feel both desire and desired in a way she hadn’t thought possible. But Conn’s interest in her is confusing. It doesn’t line up with the way he first looked at her.
As if she were his enemy.
When Conn betrays Darcy, she realizes that she can’t rely on anything—not herself, not the laws of nature, and certainly not him. Darcy decides to infiltrate the Shadow Society and uncover the Shades’ latest terrorist plot. What she finds out will change her world forever . . . My Rating:

YA Book Review: 'The Shadow Society' by Marie Lutkoski

First Line:

'Knowing what I know now, I'd say my foster mother had her reasons for throwing a kitchen knife at me.'
Pocket-Size Review

This was a joy. I was exhausted at work because I had to keep reading till three in the morning to find out what happens to Darcy and Conn.  Highs: I am a bit blackhearted towards romance in YA and it takes a lot to please me. However, this pleased me. It pleased me good. Lows: Some things were much too convenient and it was too easy at times, but those elements didn't stop me thoroughly enjoying it.

This is me reading this book:

YA Book Review: 'The Shadow Society' by Marie Lutkoski

The romance just got me. Maybe I was feeling extra sensitive and emotional whilst reading it, but I just found it plain adorable and actual tears did fall from my eyes at the cuteness. How embarrassing. 

I loved Darcy and Conn, the two main characters. They had individual personalities, which were distinct and interesting. Darcy is genuinely funny and endearing; she references Sherlock Holmes, she loves T.S Eliot and she is not constantly swooning and lusting. Seriously, all the YA I have been reading recently has had the female characters 'crumbling' and 'stumbling'- usually into men's arms. Darcy is much more cautious and, to me, normal. Take Exhibit A: the motorcycle ride. What would most girls in YA do? Grip tightly round his waist and listen to his heartbeat? Smell his hair? This is much more Darcy,

'I didn't press my cheek against his leathered back. I held my breath and wished the ride would last.'

I just found her much more relateable and un-crazy than most of the girls I have been reading about lately. She isn't madly in love with Conn, she is just a girl with a crush. I liked that. Conn is also a really well developed character, and I liked the way he wasn't particularly cheesy either. He is actually quite awkward and blunt and socially inept, with a side dish of coldness and stand offishness. He does change, but I found the early attraction and flirting between them to be very genuine and real. He calls her ethereal and he is the first guy to ever notice her in that way, and she is innocent, and excited and flattered. She is uncomfortable and awkward and fluttery and excited all at once in his presence. I think it reminded me of my own experiences, and that feeling when you get noticed for the first time, and notice someone else for the first time. I think the author portrayed it very well, and it made me get very invested in the characters from an early stage, and rooting for the romance right from the beginning. 

Despite my love of the main characters, I was also extremely pleased to see a nice plethora of supporting characters in the form of Darcy's group of friends. This romance does not exist in a vacuum suspiciously devoid of prying parents and friends which is another YA pitfall that irritates me. Where are your parents when your sneaking off to meet that vampire? Where are your friends when your spending all your time with him? Darcy has an awesome circle of friends, who are fiercely loyal and kinda quirky. The dialog between them is fast-paced and witty and genuinely funny! They are quite off-beat and cultural, and they often remind Darcy not to get too carried away with Conn,

'I'm begging you Darcy, don't become a cliche'

'Which one?'

'The one who abandons her friends for some guy'

Thank you Marie Lutkoski for acknowledging that cliche and avoiding it.
I liked the way this story was told. It is told as though Darcy is looking back on it, and therefore premeditates events and gives us snippets of information before something has actually happened such as, 'If I had known what was round the corner, maybe I wouldn't have gone into that room' (not actual quote as I am too lazy to find one). It helped to add tension, and really made you wonder how things were going to play out, and how it would ever get to that point. You feel as if you aren't sure of Darcy in the beginning, and who she is and what she is done, which makes you NEED to find out. 
On the other side of the romance, the nasty untrusting side, I also loved Darcy's reaction when she feels that Conn may be a danger to her. She just runs. None of this fretting and questioning and refusing to acknowledge that some boy you've known for a few weeks could POSSIBLY be a psycho rapist killer zombie. She just runs. Desire turns to fear instantly. Again, that is the exact reaction I would have: no matter how much I liked someone or thought I knew them, I would never trust them enough in that amount of time to not trust my instincts if I felt they were any sort of threat. I would get the hell out and not even think. Good girl what I was thinking.
The world building is interesting. There is another dimension to Chicago which we know nothing about, caused by a split in time during the Great Chicago fire. In the other dimension, things are slightly different such as art and literature (a lost Jane Austen manuscript was uncovered called 'Reservation'. DO WANT.) The most important difference is that Shades still exist in the other dimension, which are creatures who can turn invisible at will. Humans are terrified of them and consider them evil. I enjoyed the alternate world and Darcy's experiences in it; I enjoyed the Shades and the implications of their powers especially. 
This book wasn't all happy times and kissing though. It wasn't without it's flaws. Firstly, STOP WITH THE UNNECESSARY LOVE TRIANGLES YA AUTHORS! JUST STOP IT! And they're multiplying too; now it seems that every book I read ('The Selection', 'Crewel' I am talking to you) feature these girls who 3+ men cannot resist. Men just fall at their feet for no apparent reason. If they're in trouble who happens to be there? An attractive man. Where are all the old, ugly, fat men falling in love with the pretty girls? Nowhere, because pretty girls can only ever be saved and/or captured by attractive, mysterious men. FACT. However, although it annoyed me, I did like how Darcy was never really confused or did the whole 'Oh I don't know who I like, I am just so damn irresistable what is wrong with me oh damn my gorgeous face and charming personality'. She always knows who she wants really. I mean, all sorts of weird and wonderfuls are attracted to her, for no apparent reason, but she knows what she wants. At least that helped matters.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I found it genuinely sweet, well-written and exciting. Saying that, I am glad it's a stand alone as it was concluded brilliantly and perfectly and tied up nicely. Niice.
Other Thoughts

This Book has Inspired me to Read: I am crossing my fingers that this was a stand alone because I can't bear to have ANOTHER series on the go, but I will read anything else this lady writes yessir. Memorable Quotes:

'When I kissed him, his mouth tasted like warm rain. My heart crashed, and I knew that this would not be easy. It would be rough and stormy. 

And beautiful. Beautiful, too.

Like a tornado spinning down from the clouds.

I know. Most girls want their skies to be sunny.

But I'm not most girls.'

'A snowfall softens all the hard noises and the hard corners. It's a natural liar.  I saw the sky sprinkle down a hundred, a thousand little white lies.'
Three Words to Describe this Book: Adorable, Gripping, AWWW.

But Don't Take My Word For It...
  • Blog Reviews of 'The Shadow Society': 
Books With Bite says:

'I can't begin to tell you how much I love this book. I wish more books like this were published more often, Finally a new idea, something that is not overdone and not copied!!! THANK GOD!'

Good Choice Reading says:

'The Shadow Society was awesome! Marie Rutkoski took something so simple as the shadow of a person, and created a story that is unlike anything I’ve read. I was taken by surprise by so many parts of the book and found myself so fascinated by it all I just couldn’t stop reading.'

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