Shade

Shade - Jeri Smith-Ready Thanks to my recent reading choices of deadly masochistic tendencies, I’ve developed something of a paranoid fear over paranormal YA. I’m much more wary about dipping my toes into the pool to sample what’s out there for fear of head-desk inducing moments. But I have to say I found “Shade” to be very enjoyable. The basic premise – that everybody born after a specific date has the ability to see and communicate with ghosts – set up an interesting universe with the dynamics seemingly tilted favourably towards the younger generation. Since ghosts have become part of society in a way, it’s up to all ‘post-shifters’ to help out and Aura, our protagonist, who’s auntie and guardian Gina is a lawyer prosecuting in the name of ghost related cases, is particularly heavily involved in such situations. Smith-Ready did a pretty good job showing the dynamics between pre and post-shifters, showing the frustrations and problems encountered by both. I won’t lie, I did a little air-punch when I realised how much I actually liked Aura as a character and all that credit goes to the author, who did a great job keeping her as a normal teenager and not a patron of the good ship Mary Sue. Yes, she has this amazing ability but so does everyone else under sixteen. She has her mopey moments but you as the reader actually understand why she feels the way she does. She’s hurt, confused and reeling with emotions much bigger than anyone her age is supposed to deal with. She’s grown up in a world where the seemingly impossible is the norm and while she is frustrated with having the dead surround her begging for her help, she understands the toughness of this situation for the others less fortunate than her. Even when the story falls into love triangle territory – probably one of my least favourite things in YA because it’s seldom executed well – I still sympathised with and understood Aura’s choices. And, here’s the kicker, she has a fantastic and responsible attitude towards sex! Okay, the derogatory whore terms are mentioned once or twice in passing which made me flinch but otherwise Aura is not ashamed of her desires and needs. For the more fragile of nature (or whatever you want to call it) there is a brief scene where Aura is on auto-pilot but it didn’t bother me at all. She’s a teenager; of course she’s doing that! Most importantly, she’s a believable teenage girl. She also has a hilarious line slyly lamp-shading a certain series about sparkly things that I daren’t speak of in public.It’s such a shame that the two objects of her love and confusion weren’t as interesting as Aura herself. On the plus side they’re not deathly dull YA romance stereotypes. Logan is flighty, irresponsible and a little naive but he genuinely loves Aura and regrets his mistakes. While Zachary, the sarcastic Scottish exchange student (hell yeah, patriotism rules!), is probably a much more archetypal character – the witty, slightly smug but gorgeous exotic figure with eyes for only one – he has some interesting traits. Smith-Ready also managed to keep the Scottish-isms to a low, keeping the slang natural and not too distracting. While I still hope that one day love triangles will become as outdated a literary fad as sparkly creatures, in this book I didn’t mind it and it grabbed my interest long enough.The pacing suffers a bit in the middle and the plotting wavers in places since most of the really exciting stuff doesn’t come until towards the end, and the last few pages definitely feel a little rushed. The story itself feels a little too familiar, even with the interesting mythos in place. While I can forgive a couple of plot holes when the first book is a set up for a series, as this one is, but there were a couple of moments where I was distracted by them so I have to mark the book down for that. This was an enjoyable read and I’m glad I read it but I can’t call it a must buy read. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re sick of the same old creatures and love stories though and I’ll definitely be checking out the sequel “Shift” when it’s released.