Review: The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski

9 January, 2013 Reviews 6 comments

Review: The Shadow Society by Marie RutkoskiThe Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski
Series: Standalone
Published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux for Young Readers on 16th October 2012
Pages: 416
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Young Adult
Format: eBook
Source: Publisher
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository

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 . . .

In this smart, compulsively readable novel, master storyteller Marie Rutkoski has crafted an utterly original world, characters you won’t soon forget, and a tale full of intrigue and suspense.

If you finish a book and can’t stop wistfully thinking about it, even after you’ve put it down, you know that the author did something right. However, if you find yourself seized by momentary fits of anger, you know that several things went wrong.

If you vacillate between both reactions? Well that’s just confusing.

In the beginning, The Shadow Society seemed like it was designed for me to adore it. It opened in the middle of the action without making me frustrated or disoriented, and then set the narration backwards, introducing characters with some hilarious banter between Darcy and her friends. Needless to say, I was drawn in completely.

I grew concerned with another of the opening scenes, where Darcy first locks eyes with Conn and freaks out about it. ‘Who is this boy? Why did he look at me like that? Am I overreacting? Oh my god who is this boy?’ These musings appear way too often in Paranormal Romance, and are a difficult cliche to look beyond.

Thankfully, Darcy’s character proved to be both interesting and relatable. Rutkoski wrote Darcy’s voice to be both witty and poignant, to the point where it was too charming to stop reading. I found myself smiling at certain phrases that Darcy conveys in a kind of hilarious indifference, and I was thrilled at the sublime pacing.

The paranormal elements were introduced at the right speed (not too fast so that I lost track of the way things worked, not too slow that the mysteries became frustrating). Not only did I find the Shades and alternate Chicago concept fascinating, the rules of the magic and the world were clear and straightforward, and sat naturally in the plot.

With all that said, I can’t entirely praise this book, because of one major issue I had with it. Although I loved how intricate each character was, from the members of the parallel world Darcy finds herself in to Darcy’s own high school friends, when Darcy’s friends showed up in the parallel world out of the blue, my ability to believe the story just fell apart. They had accepted all of the magic and suddenly understood it entirely, and beyond that in the span of a couple months the four teenagers had found a place to stay and adapted in to a society where they previously didn’t even exist. I tried to stop rolling my eyes and shrug off the ludicrous plot element, but after something of that magnitude comes at you like a warmth off a bloodhounds nostril, it’s difficult to take anything seriously.

I had mixed feelings about the ending that unfolded with this fairytale-esque quality that didn’t sit right with me. The reason for this probably wasn’t the actual ending itself, rather the events that lead up to it that spoiled it.

While I’m upset with the way the plot of this book panned out, it was still a highly enjoyable read. It seems like it would be the perfect companion for a long flight. It was so fantastic until that… one… moment. *sigh* I suppose the reason I’m so frustrated with the way The Shadow Society turned out is because I really did adore the plot and the characters, and it was difficult to see them both converge on each other like that.

Adrienne Fray

Adrienne Fray

Reviewer at Cuddlebuggery
Born and raised in the middle of a desolate expanse of prairie land, Adrienne has learnt quickly that there are only two options for a happy survival: read constantly, or become very, very bored. Find her on GoodReads.

6 Responses to “Review: The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski”

  1. Wendy Darling

    Sounds like this was a love/hate relationship for you. Those opening scenes were what caused me to DNF this one, I’m afraid. Something about the writing (and those cliches) just put me off, and my co-blogger didn’t care for it, either. I’m curious if the author’s other books are like this, but the premise would have to be really intriguing for me to pick one up to find out, hah. Nicely reviewed!

  2. Deb E

    Isn’t it the most frustrating when you WANT to like something, but something else dives in there to ruin it? It sounds like this could have been a “OMG, I love this book, everyone else shoudl love this book” for you… So close…

  3. athousand_lives

    Recently read this and I found it to be quite a drag at the beginning. Especially when it was all about Conn and Darcy and the staring into each other’s eyes. Nearly DNF it but their relationship progressed well enough, I suppose. I didn’t like how the climax turned out. I didn’t think it was climax-y enough. I never understood how the alternate realities were created, exactly.

  4. Renae M

    Ah, it’s definitely disappointing that you didn’t enjoy this as much as you could have, and I totally get where you’re coming from. Some books have the potential to be awesome, but can’t quite tie together all the strings. Separate elements work wonderfully on their own, but together they don’t fit. Too bad, too—this one sounded pretty promising.

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