The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski

Tuesday 29 January 2013.

The Shadow SocietyThe Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski
Published: 16th October 2012
By: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Source: Netgalley

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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Buy the book: Amazon/The Book Depository


Maja (The Nocturnal Library) said...

I appreciated that it was a standalone, too. There were things I really liked about it, the worldbuilding being the most important one, but I wish Rutkoski could have stayed away from cliches altogether. There was so much potential in this one and I just felt that at least some of it was wasted.
I'm glad you liked it a bit more than I did. Great review!

Giselle said...

I really enjoyed this one too it was so unique and the protagonist was awesome. What I didn't know what that it's a standalone. Which is kind of good seeing as EVERYTHING has to be a series nowadays. Glad you enjoyed it, chickie!

Unknown said...

Ooh. This sounds like something that I would like! But I do have issues like that when I read-- questions must be answered, otherwise the review goes downhill, because I question everything, LOL! Darcy definitely sounds like an interesting character, and alternate worlds...I love the idea of that. I hope that I get to read this soon! (:

Megan@The Book Babe

Jasprit said...

Oh I had my eye on this book for a while too, but wad slightly discouraged by the not so promising reviews so early on, but I do like the concept this book takes and it feels like I haven't read a stand alone novel in ages. Great review Suzanne! :)

Anonymous said...

Oh I'm so glad to hear this is a standalone! I haven't had a chance to read this one yet, but I'm very excited to pick it up. It seems a lot of people felt they had unanswered questions with regards to worldbuilding, but I'm glad you found it engrossing and worth the read! Wonderful review! :-)

Heidi@Rainy Day Ramblings said...

Well not so thrilled about cliches but I like good world building and the Chicago Fire is a nice addition. I am all for a good stand alone as well. I have had a string of them lately and it is so refreshing not to have a cliffhanger!

brandileigh2003 said...

Oh! I need to get this. I think I would enjoy. I like the sound of Darcy and I think I would like Conn.
Happy reading,
Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog

Sam (Realm of Fiction) said...

Oh this is a standalone? I didn't realise, but I suppose it makes a refreshing change. I've been a little hesitant to read this book, mostly because of the mixed reviews, as you mentioned, but I'm encouraged by your positive rating. Despite a few cliches, I'm glad this worked out for you. Brilliant review!

Mel@Thedailyprophecy said...

The lack of world-building is a bit disappointing, but overall, it sounds like an enjoyable book. I like the idea of the alter world and Darcy & Conn sound like great characters. It's also refreshing that this is a stand-alone. Thanks for the review and I'll check it out!


LoveOfBooks said...

I contemplated getting this when I saw in NG, but didn't. I kind of wish I would have, because it does sound interesting. Especially since it includes the big Chicago Fire. Well, I'm glad you liked it! I may still give it a go in the future.

Rachel said...

Oh it's so nice to have a stand-alone once in a while. Waiting for the next book is so irritating! I find if I read something after reading some negative reviews, I end up liking it better, too, Suzanne. Lowering expectations helps a lot. I'll have to give this one a go, because I like the sound of it. Great review. :)

Silverlight said...

I never gave this book a shot, maybe I should?? Great review!!

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