Book Review: Shadowlands

Rating: 4 out of 5 (Great! Solid book with little or minimal issues)

Shadowlands is the thrilling first installment in the brand new series by bestselling author Kate Brian. After reading the synopsis, I was immediately hooked because of the unique plot involving a serial killer which was definitely a selling point for me.  I recently read another young adult serial killer book by Robert Cormier called Tenderness. The book puts the reader into the mind of the killer and allows the reader a glimpse into the complex mind.  If serial killers in literature interest you, I highly recommend checking out Tenderness at your local library.

On the other hand, Shadowlands only glimpses very briefly into the mind of a serial killer with the story being told primarily from the victim’s point of view. I’ve seen more and more young adult books with serial killers and it is a trend that I welcome.  Okay, now on to the review!

The Set Up

While walking home from school, teenager Rory Miller is attacked by brutal and seasoned serial killer Steven Nell.  Rory survives the attack and is forced into witness protection with her father and sister Darcy.  This trauma triggers visions and flashes brought on by post traumatic stress that she previously experienced when dealing with her mother’s death. The post traumatic episodes continue even when the family is safely established in Juniper Landing, a picturesque island vacation town far away from the brutal past events in Rory’s life. Rory and Darcy make friends immediately with the island’s local teens where surfing and a low-key lifestyle is the priority. Life at Juniper Landing seems perfect, but Rory is still plagued by the memory of Steven Nell.  Rory begins to notice unusual signs and events leading her to believe that Nell has found her.  However, no one seems to believe her due to her post traumatic illness and the strong possibility that she is seeing something that isn’t there. Rory’s worries and theories are confirmed when one of her new friends goes missing and it is only a matter of time before she must face her worse nightmare.

My Thoughts: The twist is both shocking and disappointing

Okay, so I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and it only took me a few hours to read. The opening chapter told from the serial killer’s mind sucked me right into the story and never let me go. The book has a good balance between realistic and stock young adult plot lines.  There are of course hot guys and love triangles; however, the murder plot and intensity of the serial killer cut right through those flimsy plot lines and provide a complex story.

There were points in this book where I was questioning the validity, but this is a fiction title and didn’t dwell on it.  When the FBI gives Rory and her family new identities, a car, and a secure location to drive without police escort or cell phone, I remember I laughed. With a killer as clever and elusive as Nell, why did the FBI think it was okay for them to leave from their house where anyone could have followed. When the house was surrounded by police under constant supervision, Nell found a way to get inside and leave a note on Rory’s bed. That should have been a clear indicator that this guy isn’t the run of the mill psycho. I understand why Brian had to write the situation this way (it leads to the big twist) but it perhaps could have been written more realistically.

I won’t go into detail and will stay spoiler free, but there is a large twist to the book you will read in the last sentence. Fortunately, this is book one in the series and book two, Hereafter, comes out October 1, 2013 which I will be reserving as soon as possible at my library. I was shocked in a good way; however, disappointed when I finished the book.  The end was slightly confusing and I went back into the book to see exactly what happened and what I missed. Even though I was confused, I didn’t mind the disorientation. I really enjoyed reading the book and would like to reread to really understand the events leading to the end. I recommend this book for people who enjoy mystery, suspense, murder, and young adult fiction (of course!).

Check it out at your local library and don’t forget about the sequel coming out this October!