The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski
Published: 16th October 2012
By: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I began the Shadow Society with some hesitation having seen bloggers, whose opinions I've really grown to appreciate, hadn't been very happy with it. I was aware of the clichéd "new guy at school that girl can't stop obsessing over", but I felt that was something that wouldn't bother me, I'd be fine with that. Maybe low expectations paid off again, but this book was really for me. I was completely engrossed in it.
Darcy was abandoned outside a fire station when she was just five years old and has no recollections of her life before then. She has went from foster home to foster home her whole life, and is only now, settled enough with her foster mother to still going to the same school for the second year in a row.
She notices Conn on the first morning back to school, hard not to when there's a complete stranger staring at you like they hate you. Over the next few days, he starts trying to get to know her, and volunteers to be her partner for a science project. But his actions contradict the look in his eyes and he cringes at her touch. But as he seems to be warming up to her more, she realises that she's starting to like him too. And she kisses him. Suddenly, he's slapped handcuffs on her and all hell breaks loose. Darcy's life is torn apart again as she discovers that she's not human, she's a shade, and she's from an alter world.
Darcy has always had a difficult life in the foster care system and there's always seemed to be something a little off about her. But things get so much worse for her when she's arrested by Conn, who's a member of the IIB and taken to the alter world where everyone hates her and looks at her with disgust, and they just want to lock her up for the rest of her life.
Darcy is a strong willed character. It's tough and must be really scary, she has no one. Yet, she fights back against both systems that seem to just want to take her freedom away, the humans of the IIB and her own kind, the shades of the Shadow Society. She doesn't care about their war, she doesn't want to be on either side, she just wants to do what's right.
And while Conn does appear to be the bad guy, I liked him from the start. He's young, but tough, and excellent at his job. He listens to his gut and goes with what he believes in.
Darcy's friends are wonderful. Jims, Lily and Raphael, they're not present for most of the book but enough for me to get to like them and see how good they are. And while it was a tad on the unbelievable side, I still enjoyed the part they play in the ending of this book and the impact they have.
Overall, I was mostly happy with the world building, I would have liked some more information on exactly how the alter world was created. The split in worlds was caused by the Great Chicago Fire, but how, and why? And the people who live in the alter, how do they come to be there, are they people from the original world? The people in the alter world are aware of the original world, but not vice versa. This lack of knowledge didn't impact on my enjoyment of the story but it did leave me extremely curious.
The Shadow Society is a stand alone book, something I haven't read for quite a while. I'm happy about that in one way, no long wait for a sequel, but still slightly sad, as it would have been nice to have some more time with Conn and Darcy.
“There can be second chances. But maybe it's also true that things can never be the same, and that you have to decide whether the second chance lives up to the first.”
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