In 1918, the world seems to be on the verge of an apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and...moreIn 1918, the world seems to be on the verge of an apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men off to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she's forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death when her first love, a boy who died in battle, returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her.
In the Shadow of Blackbirds is rich with history and mystery, a curious tale of am intelligent girl searching through clues and struggling to survive in a dangerous time. This book draws on fear, fear of disease, war, and foreign spies, and combines them with the morbid curiosity of contacting the spirit world that arose in the early 20th century. An intriguing mystery, taking place in a time where concerns are not unlike those currently faced.
One thing historical novels do is introduce readers to the idea that, while certain events took place in the past, they're not so dissimilar from those they've personally seen or read about. In Mary Shelley's 1918, America is struggling to fight an overseas war, neighbours are suspicious of neighbours who have foreign-sounding names, and a disease that no one is sure how to cure is running rampant. I'm curious as to how many other readers will think back to other events of the past 100 years, most recently, the illnesses and overseas battles that populated the news and covered the western world in fear in the early 21st century.
Mary Shelley is an interesting girl, intelligent and perhaps a little eccentric. She strikes me as a girl who grew up in the early 1900's with a liberal father who taught her what most girls weren't taught. She has a rather analytical mind, she's constantly questioning and searching. Then, her practicality mixes with the spirit world when she encounters a familiar ghostly face.
The increased interest in the spirit world and departed loves ones is a curious thing. During a time where the world was in chaos, when everyone feared the worst was coming, some looked to the other side, to passed away loved ones for comfort. I'm curious as to what some were looking for. Perhaps a sense that they weren't alone, that their family was always with them. Perhaps they were looking for evidence of a sort of existence after death. Then again, perhaps it was something else entirely.
Interspersed between the chapters of this book are photographs from the early 20th century. A previously published example would be Ransom Riggs' Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Unfortunately, the photographs didn't work for me here as they did with Riggs' book. The pictures, yes, draw on Mary Shelley's experiences and encounters, but I felt no personal connection to them, no direct connection to the scene or chapter as with Jacob and his encounters on the island. There was a consistency to those photographs that isn't present here, it feel more like these images were slipped in. (Of course, I am curious as to how the photographs will look in the finished copy, perhaps that will make a difference.)
This is an intriguing historical mystery, based on real events and worries, anchored by a very intelligent girl searching for the truth in a very dangerous year, but the addition of time period-accurate photographs felt unnecessary.(less)
Every night at 4:33AM, London Lane's memory resets and she forgets what happened that day. All that's left behind is a note, written by London herself...moreEvery night at 4:33AM, London Lane's memory resets and she forgets what happened that day. All that's left behind is a note, written by London herself, reminding her of the big things that happened and the stuff she has to watch out for. It doesn't make high school any easier, or dating, but she's trying. Even when a new guy shows up. But London starts seeing some strange things and wants to learn more about the past she keeps forgetting, before it ruins her future.
Such an interesting concept. London's memory resets at 4:33 in the morning every morning, but she remembers little bits of the future. It's such a mind-blowing idea, reading this book was exciting. Something would happen that the reader knows all about, but London wouldn't and had to figure it all out again.
This book has a unique psychological aspect to it. To be unable to remember your past while discovering moments of your future is different, to say the least. I was waiting for London to be a very 'living in the present with no cares' character, but she wasn't. She was concerned about what she'd forgotten and what was going to happen, like her memory loss was so much more of a curse than it might've been to a different character. London was strong after learning how to cope with this curious part of her life, but she still needed support, needed more than just her mother or her friend.
Luke showing up surprises her. She's drawn to him, wants to talk to him, but he's not in her memories of the future. Why isn't he there? Does something happen to him? It made their relationship interesting, not remembering a guy you have a crush on but seeing him at school every day and finding him attractive.
And there are some things both London and the reader doesn't know, so some of the mystery is still there, still weaved into the prose and the pages to be discovered.
Mysterious and romantic, Cat Patrick's debut novel was an evenly-paced glimpse into a young girl's life, a girl who can't remember her past but somehow knows parts of her future. Unique and different, this book will grab hold of readers and show them a different side of life, show them how important memory is and what can happen when you have none.(less)
After leaving the Society and desperately searching for the Rising, and each other, Cassia and Ky have found what they've been looking for. But it com...moreAfter leaving the Society and desperately searching for the Rising, and each other, Cassia and Ky have found what they've been looking for. But it comes at the cost of losing each other yet again: Cassia is assigned to work for the Rising inside the Society while Ky is stationed outside its borders. But nothing is as predicted, and all too soon the veil is lifted and things start to shift around them again. Now Cassia is forced to reconcile the difficulties of challenging a life too confining, seeking a freedom she never dreamed possible, and honouring a love she cannot live without.
Reached is a conclusion, a realization, a resting point. Everything that Cassia, Ky, and Xander experienced, everything they went through and suffered through, does end, and this is how they reach that point. A satisfying conclusion to an awe-inspiring series.
The Rising is coming, the Society will fall. That much is certain. This is what happens when the Rising occurs, when the people stand up and break free of a controlling society they no longer trust, a society that destroyed what was once valued above all other things. But no uprising is without pain and suffering. No uprising is perfect, and while it is the end, it will take all three narrators to the brink in their quest to reach the place they've been searching for.
The inclusion of the poems and songs, of writing by hand, of creating, was a wonderful choice by the author. In the darkest corners and in the bleakest times, there is still hope. There are still dreams for the future. There are still words and ideas that show us the resilience of those who came before and know that it can be done. Sometimes they are messages passed around, sometimes their meanings are meant to be taken literally, but sometimes they are proof that we are not alone, that someone else is out there.
Cassia, Ky, Xander. They all have their jobs to do, and as big or as small as they are, they are all connected. Everything is connected, and all of the ways in which they're connected are realized here.
The tone of the book, of the series as a whole, is rather serious, somber, and poignant. The journey has not been easy for Cassia or Ky, or even Xander, but they are so close to reaching their end. With any luck, they will keep fighting and search out for what they believe is right.(less)
Amber's life is spinning out of control, so much so all she wants to do is turn up the volume on her iPod until her family's demands fade away. To esc...moreAmber's life is spinning out of control, so much so all she wants to do is turn up the volume on her iPod until her family's demands fade away. To escape, she sneaks off to spend a day all alone on the beach. There, she meets Cade, someone also looking for an escape, and they decide to spend a perfect day together: no pasts, no fears, no regrets.
The more time Amber spends with Cade, the more she's drawn to him. The more she's troubled by the darkness inside him. To Amber, it seems less like he's living in the now and more like he's living each moment like it's his last.
There's something unbearably haunting about a novel in verse. So much emotion leaks out from the page and into you as you read a novel written in poems. The thoughts and feelings of the person are right there, not cluttered by movement or he said/she said. You get right to the heart of the matter, right to the soul of the character the author has crafted.
Amber's situation feels so heartbreaking at the beginning. She's desperate to get away from the house and live a day just for herself at the beach. Something is about to happen to her, something big, and she wants to live one day on her terms, according to her rules.
Then there's Cade who's running from something big and important and dark and complicated.
This was one of those 'boy and girl meet when they're at a crossroads and needs the other to help pull them back onto the right back before they fall off the edge of the cliff' books, which I don't mind. Sometimes in life, you can't quite make it over the hurdle unless you lean on someone, even when they're a stranger and you don't want to but they're there and they understand you more than you know.
Fans of Lisa Schroeder's romantic verse novels will relish the thought of this one, and hopefully, will gobble it up like YA lit candy. Emotional, haunting, sweet and lovely, I was swept away once again.(less)