Like everyone born after The Shift, sixteen year-old Aura can see and talk to ghosts. She’s always found this mysterious ability pretty annoying, wishing only that she could reverse it and have some peace. But when her boyfriend, Logan, dies unexpectedly, Aura is forced to reconsider her connections to the dead…Devastated by Logan’s sudden death, Aura realises that her ability to see ghosts might actually be a blessing. Surely a violet-hued spirit Logan is better than no Logan at all? But just when Aura is coming to terms with having a ghost as a boyfriend, she starts developing feelings for her new friend Zachary, who is understanding, supportive and, most of all, alive. Each boy holds a piece of her heart – as well as vital cues to the secret of the Shift – and it’s time for Aura to choose between loving the living, or embracing the dead...(from Amazon)
I’ve been having a bit of a reading slump recently combined with a hectic schedule. Over the last couple of weeks whenever I found time to pick up a book I really struggled to get into it and abandoned a few after just a couple of pages. Then I picked up Shade by Jeri Smith Ready and by the end of the first page I knew my slump was over.
The world where ghosts walk and talk among the living but are seen by only those born after The Shift is fantastically created. At first I though it seemed kind of cool, but quickly you realise how horrible it actually would be. With the government forcing children to translate in criminal investigations and such, those under 16 are faced with reliving some horrific and traumatic events. Besides, how annoying would it be really to have endless disgruntled ghosts harping on at you? After ten minutes, Very. I thought Jeri Smith Ready got the atmosphere and feelings of her characters spot on and I was able to fully believe in the world she created.
I really liked Aura as a character too. She’s feisty yet incredibly compassionate. I was a little sceptical at first about the love twist between Aura, ghost boyfriend Logan and Scottish Zachary, thinking it may not come across as truly appropriate and real. Would I be able to accept another love interest while she was grieving and her dead boyfriend still hung around as a ghost. Well surprisingly yes, because the author ensures Aura is complex enough and struggles with both her grief and growing attraction in a believable and sympathetic way. As for the love interests, Zachary is amazing-I love him! I live just on the border of Scotland and thought Jeri Smith Ready got his ‘Scottishness’ spot on, down to his wry sense of humour. He was also a lot deeper than I expected and it seems he has an interesting part to play in future sequels. Logan on the other hand didn’t really grab me. He’s a rock star in the making before he dies and extremely self indulgent and spoilt.
The Shift itself remains a bit of a mystery and it’s not clear how it came about, but neither is it to the characters. Throughout the book Aura and Zach find out more about that strange night seventeen years ago and their own involvement in it and their investigations set the scene for a tremendous series ahead. One very very slight complaint I had was the ‘shading’ aspect of ghosts. When a ghost trapped in the real world can’t move on and becomes bitter and angry they Shade, becoming feared dark shadows, yet I didn’t fully get what was so fearful about them as they were quite vague. I’d have possibly liked more explanation and terror here to fully appreciate them. It’s a small niggle though and possibly something that’s followed in the following books.
Overall though Shade was an excellent read and the perfect book to bring me out of my slump. It’s fast paced, original, witty, racy (yes, there’s a particularly steamy scene or two) and sad all at once, with more than a couple of tear jerking scenes and a complete shocker of an ending. I didn’t see that one coming at all! The characters are complex, interesting and I felt I could really care for them. Shade is a fantastic start to an exciting new and fresh paranormal series. Highly recommended!
Published in the UK by Simon & Schuster Children’s Books 2nd September 2010