Nenia Campbell's Reviews > The Shadow Club

The Shadow Club by Neal Shusterman
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Mar 06, 14

Read on September 16, 2012

Revenge is just one of those things that's never a good idea - especially not if you happen to be a character in a book or movie. It's kind of like saying, "I'll be right back" in a horror movie, or "s/he will never know" in a teen movie about cheating/hurtful bets/etc.

Shadow Club is about seven teens who are all "second best" at something - academia, basketball, swimming, running, singing, trumpet - in their school. This is also the ONLY thing that they're even remotely good at, and, of course, their betters lord it over them pettily at any opportunity.

This sounds a bit ridiculous, but people realllly don't like being in second place. There are STUDIES about it, believe it or not. Gold medalists are super thrilled, obviously, but the kicker is bronze medalists tend to be happier with their awards than silver medalists , because while bronze medalists are thinking, "Yay me! I made the cut!" silver medalists tend to be thinking, "Goddammit, I was so close to getting gold, goddamn gold-medal-usurper-bastard! That award should have been mine!"

Anyway, all these disgruntled malcontents (I love this phrase - I have to use it more in conversation) band together and decide to perform cruel, hurtful pranks on the people who beat them and make them feel bad about themselves. But soon the pranks begin to get out of hand, and turn dangerous - even potentially lethal.

This is one of Shusterman's more esoteric books. It was published in the eighties and reads like it, cheesy and over-the-top with big hair and bad acting, and someone actually refers to one of their peers as an "odd bird." These are fourteen year-old-kids, mind (the narrator's a boy). Nowadays, I think they'd be less likely to say "odd bird" than, say, "Wow, that kids one weird-ass little freaky fuck." Or, more concisely, "Fucking freak."

I like the message behind this novel, even though the execution is kind of horrifying to watch. When violence is met with more violence, you get this downward spiral event occurring that leaves nobody happy. I mean, just look at Kill Bill. Or Othello.

Old news is old.

2.5 to 3 stars.
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