Katja Weinert's Reviews > Shadows

Shadows by Ilsa J. Bick
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Aug 30, 12

Read from August 19 to 21, 2012

I received Shadows via Netgalley and EgmontUSA , in exchange for an honest review.

Shadows is the second book in the Ashes Trilogy, and starts off exactly where the first book ended...which was on a major cliffhanger. So, the first chapter throws the reader right back into the gut-churning action of a world in which only the fittest survive. I thought it was perfectly okay to start the book this way, because Ashes was such a memorable book for me, but I've seen comments by fellow bloggers stating they hated this opening because they couldn't remember half of the townsfolk from Rule - where Alex lived for the latter part of the first book.

Ilsa J Bick's writing is smooth and the main characters are just as compelling and consistent as they were in Ashes, but I was disappointed to find that the gore factor is ratcheted up even further in this sequel. Personally, I find it bad enough thinking of a world in which some people have been turned into cannibals without having to have the full details of the 'chow-down'. I felt in the first book that it was the parts which hinted at extreme danger that I really connected with - more than the detailed gruesome scenes, so I thought it a shame that Alex witnesses more and more of the stuff I wasn't interested in. However, this is a personal preference, so If you're into gore then rest assured this book does not scrimp on bloodshed in its various forms (eye-gouging, arterial spray and more...)

The pace in Shadows is more balanced than in Ashes - which was for the most part relentless and then calms down to to near placidity - albeit a creepy calm before the storm! Shadows continues Alex's story, a tale filled with action, horror and a touch of romance. The intense focus of book one gives way to Shadow's more panoramic view, as the narration purely from Alex's point of view is now supplemented by the experiences of other characters. The trade off for this broader perspective is that having more than one voice means I didn't feel as connected to Alex as I did in the first book; though focusing on characters other than her allows for more progression within the plot than if we had simply stayed with Alex. The story progression does provide some answers to a few questions that Ashes had raised, whilst simultaneously introducing newer considerations.

Although 'survival of the fittest' is the name of the game, this sequel highlights that those survivors who weren't mentally affected by the catastrophe, have more than the threat of cannibals to deal with - the threat was very much 'out there' in the first book, but this book makes clear the threat to humanity is within too...no where seems safe any longer.

Overall: The violence is on a scale I'm not used to and I was close to giving this a 2.5 out of 5 rating. However, putting my squeamishness aside I can't fault the writing style. The characters are well-drawn, and even though it's horrific I can't say that the world-building isn't anything but vivid. Last October I rated the first book, Ashes, 4.5 out of 5 stars; and it only fell short of perfection because of all the detailed blood-letting. In Shadows I missed my previous 'connectedness' to Alex and I preferred the thriller/suspense parts of book one which balanced out the gore but were here overwhelmed by explicit- and gratuitous - gruesomeness. Balancing the pros and the cons, I still like the premise and most of the delivery so I''ve settled on a rating of 3.5 out of 5.
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Reading Progress

08/19/2012 page 2
0.0% "Awesomeness, it's a read now on Netgalley :-)"
08/20/2012 page 100
19.0% "ick! ick! ick!...but I still want to know what happens to Alex"

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