by Ilsa J. Bick
Published: September 25, 2012
Add it - Goodreads | Buy it - Barnes & Noble
The Apocalypse does not end. The Changed will grow in numbers. The Spared may not survive.There were some definite mixed feelings going on about SHADOWS. Some of us didn't even finish the book, which makes my little black heart weep. I, Donna, threw up the choice for SHADOWS this past month because 1) it was coming out, 2) Ilsa's awesome and 3) EVERYONE needs to read her books. We normally try to avoid series books unless it's the first book but really, I was doing everyone a service by having them read ASHES as well because it was just that awesome.
Even before the EMPs brought down the world, Alex was on the run from the demons of her past and the monster living in her head. After the world was gone, she believed Rule could be a sanctuary for her and those she’d come to love.
But she was wrong.
Now Alex is in the fight of her life against the adults, who would use her, the survivors, who don’t trust her, and the Changed, who would eat her alive. (goodreads.com)
The thing is when we finished reading it all of us were wondering what the hell just happened. Like stepped off a Tilt-O-Whirl after being blindfolded. Read on for more of our illustrious opinions.
Donna: Holy crap I haven't even started yet. I'm about halfway through what's working out to be a quick read. I should start SHADOWS by the end of the week. YOU SHOULD KNOW ME BY NOW.
Sandy: I'm still on Ashes! But I like what I've read so far. I like the the author GOES there with the gore, hehe. No hand holding here.
Sya: None at all! And she really ups the horror ante in book two!
Melissa: NO! I'm like Sandy and still on Ashes.
Donna: Ilsa Bick is awesome. And he world actually MAKES SENSE. Like she did research or something. FANTASTIC.
Donna: I'm 100 pages into SHADOWS. There's a shit-ton of action to the point where it gets a little confusing to read but like the Ilsa I know and love she doesn't shy away from talking about incredibly gross stuff to create a scene (like Tyler getting crushed under the horse, goo). I'm still trying to acclimate to the characters and remember who's who, even after reading the synopsis on her website. But the cliffhanger chapter enders make putting the book down a little difficult. Who needs to sleep and go to work anyway?
Sya: It doesn't get any less confusing as the book goes on. It might be worth taking notes, I kind of wish I had as the amount of characters and moves between them in the narrative is relentless. Not bad, just hard work.
Donna: I think I'm okay with it right now but I pretty much need to have zero background noise in order to concentrate. Since I can't even get that because the knobs next door can't grasp that bass travels I may just end up confusing myself.
Steph: Yea fairly intense narrative at the moment! Im about half way through and loving the gore so far - almost sickening in places but SO well written. I think I love her.
Donna: Steph, are these the first Ilsa books you've read? If you you MUST read DRAW THE DARK. It's her debut, it's a Carolrhoda Lab title and it's phenomenal. What I've noticed about SHADOWS that's drastically different from her other three books is the pacing. DRAW THE DARK, DROWNING INSTINCT and ASHES all took a while to get moving but once they did they didn't stop. SHADOWS hit the ground running, as if it and ASHES were just one giant manuscript cut in half. Normally I'm thoroughly opposed to that but quite frankly I think Ilsa's such a phenomenal writer that it doesn't affect me like it would with someone else. And I agree, the gore is exponential and I love her for going places that so many others are afraid to go. I'm right at about the halfway point now where Alex is toeing the line of actually Changing and she's, literally, getting mindfucked by Wolf and it's an alley that if broached by a lesser author would come off just horrid. Here? No way simply because I trust Ilsa to take the story where it needs to go not just for shock value but because she needs to push the confines of her own world in order to actually tell the story. She does not hold back and the slow churns my stomach makes reading some of these scenes is evident. I mean the woman actually flayed her own character. HOW MANY AUTHORS WOULD DEIGN TO DO THAT???
Sya: Interesting point about Shadows feeling like it's just the second half of the Ashes manuscript - I completely agree and kind of wish I'd re-read Ashes and just carried on into Shadows as it might have been less discombobulated.
Steph: I think Donna may actually be Ilsa! i agree totally though, her horror is on par with a lot of adult authors - she doesnt seem afraid to push boundaries and thats something YA needs more of!
Donna: I swear I'm not! *shifty eyes*
Donna: I'm still not done yet but I think Alex is Changing. Sean Beaudoin went there. If Ilsa can write about zombie orgies she can go THERE too.
Laura: This is messy... She's all over the place. Far far too much dialogue from barely supporting characters. STFU. I'm going to keep reading because Ashes was amazing but so far this story needs to be medicated....Ritalin.
Donna: I assure you it doesn't stop. I'm almost done and it's been schizophrenic the entire time. It makes it a little hard to keep track of characters and I'm still trying to remember who's who since she keeps introducing them and which plotline goes with who and whatnot. I'm liking what I'm reading but it's a crazy departure from the Ilsa writing I know. That's for sure.
Laura: There are fifty people on this page and they are all talking...and they each have a different story to tell. And when fifty shut up, fifty more chime in. I get that there's A BIGGER PICTURE in the making but seriously? This is a mess. Ashes was so cool and calculated and eerily believable because the storytelling was so clean and matter of fact. You could picture it all happening- even the zombies (because those are real).This is damn near throwable.
Sya: I'm with Laura. But also kind of with Donna. I'm choosing to believe that the author has intentionally chosen to screw with us so that we relate to the characters. However, it's still very hard to follow and I think that it all hinges on how book three brings it together. This is very much that difficult second album.
Sya: Bringing, even.
Laura: I've read a 170 pages of blood-filled drivel. I'm ok with the gore- I mean these are people eating people. It fits. But it's nothing but pointless disconnected dialogue intermixed with blood and guts for shock value. How can I be shocked? There's no fucking story to be shocked at. Connect with the characters? She never bothered to connect them to a story so I'll be damned if I'm going to feel something for anyone. There's no word magic, no story, unforgivably bad characters and that's nearly 200 pages in?!?! Fuck.. This is Ilsa Bick for crying out loud. Not some dumbass fad following piece of shit paranormal YA "author." Ilsa is GOOD, so there's no excuse for this. None. I am floored by how awful this is. I'm afraid if I
Laura: read any further.........bunnies will cry.
Donna: The greater overarching plot has shattered into a dozen different stories following twice as many people. I can't remember why Lena, Chris and Nathan originally ventured out. To look for some Amish dude in Oren? Tom ended up in Wisconsin and is making his way back to Alex. Alex is stuck with a roving band of Changed and trying to get away but ended up a bit stymied with it. Daniel was thrown in there for some random reason, and then the older couple that met up with Tom on his way back and this Weller dude and the Changed kids with Leopard, Wolf, Slash, Beretta and a few others and then the people Alex was held captive with and okay. Yeah, there are a few characters going on in here, most of which are ultimately not going to hold much significance.
Donna: But this is ILSA. I CAN'T NOT like it. I love everything she writes and I do like SHADOWS but it feels like fifteen people are talking to me all at once and the fact that the chapters are bouncing all over the place is making it really difficult to keep everything straight. It's a giant infodump of a book. It really is and I really think it's the middle book slump. There's an end game here and this is merely the bridge that we need to cross in order to get to that other side. It's not a boring trip but there's so much going on I can't focus on any one thing.
Donna: I WILL NOT GIVE UP ON ILSA. NEVER! She hasn't let me down yet. There has to be a purpose to this.
Laura: Donna.....you can't excuse the book just because of your Ilsa crush. Good authors can write shit books. I can't OK this book just on the off chance that book three will make it all better. This book.....is bad. It's bad.
Donna: YES I CAN. *sticks fingers in ears* LALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALA
Nicole: Donna, don't be a blind batty.
Donna: I WILL.
Laura: Officially abandoned on page 208. RIP.
Donna: Frownie face.
Laura: If I finish it, it will only be to hurt it. I won't do that, out of respect for your author crush (and the fact that Ilsa is really effing cool and has neat hair).
Donna: I'm crying.
Laura: I call bullshit.
Melissa: Admission: I felt guilty about not reading this until I read that Laura abandoned. All of a sudden, I don't feel so bad. Sorry, Donna. Another time.
Donna: Seriously weeping over here.
Donna: Okay, so . . . I finished the book . . . and I'm pretty sure this was a 2,000 page manuscript that was chopped into threes. The plot didn't settle down until the last story break and by then shit had come and gone, I was still reeling and I rightly couldn't and didn't connect to anyone. Everything moved too quickly for me to really latch onto any one character, not to mention there were far too many and they didn't all fit in my head. I didn't see a reason to why it had to bounce around like it did, focusing on SO MANY secondary characters only to have them die off. I wouldn't have minded so much if each segment was dedicated to one character and we got their story from beginning to end. AT least then I'd have time to process everything, let everything sink in and be one with the character. Every time the story hopped heads I was wrenched away from something I may have eventually cared about if I had more time with it. The chapters weren't conducive to me caring about anyone, ultimately.
Steph: Totally agree Donna, i didn't feel I had enough time with any one character to feel properly invested in their story so I ended up feeling detatched pretty quickly. Also, i think if I was a parent I would have issues with the sexual undertones - fairly full on in places and perhaps a bit much for the younger end of the YA market!
Donna: I don't want to say I didn't like it because it's not that but I certainly would have liked to have been able to focus on something for more than a few pages at a time. By the time I got to the end my hair was blown back like that dude in the Maxell commercials.
Sya: Donna, it's OK... I felt much the same. I'm still not entirely sure what is going on with the story and do think that that is a serious flaw. However, it could still come together in book three. Whether anyone will have the energy to read on is another question...
Donna: I will definitely read on. I'll read anything Ilsa puts out. So if I need to I'll be the guinea pig there.
There you have it. Ultimately we were all a little 'huh?' about SHADOWS and felt that book three will need to be the deciding factor for the series as a while. It's one hell of a fast ride to get through but you might need a neck brace by the time you get to the end of it.