Aaron's Reviews > Shadow Walkers

Shadow Walkers by Brent Hartinger
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Sep 05, 2011

really liked it


While Brent Hartinger is best known for his realistic fiction, particularly works with strong GLBTQQ characters, his newest work explores the realm of paranormal mysteries. Set on Hinder Island, a small island near Puget Sound in Washington state, readers meet Zach. Zach and his younger brother Gilbert moved to the small and quiet island community to live with their grandparents only a few years earlier, after the deaths of his parents.

It has not been the smoothest of transitions for Zach, who has felt the outsider since his arrival. He has made few friends, and has a quiet crush on one of the boys with whom he goes to school. His only outlets seem to be the online friendships he has developed.

It is this social isolation that got him interested in exploring astral projection when he is grounded from the Internet with nothing else to do but explore an old book of his father's. When his brother mysteriously disappears, he opts to give astral projection a try, in the hopes of finding Gilbert. To his surprise, he is able to explore the astral plane.

While there, he finds an ally in Emory, another teen who has learned to use the astral plane. The two start a search to find Gilbert. As they learn more about his disappearance, it becomes clear that time might be running out, and Gilbert is not the only one in danger. Something on the astral plane has an interest in them, and it is not for anything good.

This is definitely not one of Hartinger's best works, though, it is quite interesting all the same. I suspect that might be why it was released as a paperback rather than a hardcover. The typos sprinkled throughout are just the beginning. The core of the story and the characters is good, but things don't feel fully developed. Clues to the mystery surrounding Gilbert are presented, but are almost too obvious because of the skimpiness of the stories content. Things might have been helped with the inclusion of more characters to help with the creation of red herrings or possibilities.

Zach's experiences with his sexuality seem to be well presented. The crush he has on one of his schoolmates is realistic, and his developing relationship with his co-hero proves to be quite interesting and not overly rushed. In a way, this aspect of the story is more fully developed than the mystery or the dark supernatural elements the two boys are confronted with in the spectral plane.

The overall result, is a book with great potential (like and early draft) than a work that feels like finished copy. At just over 200 pages, things could have been filled in a bit more, creating a much stronger novel. That is not to say the book was not enjoyable, but it could have been stronger.
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