on October 24, 2008
Hailey Maniates is a San Francisco graduate student in biochemistry. She is a scientist who trusts in data that can be observed with her senses but she is shaken one night when she is attacked in her laboratory by a supernatural force that causes her to question her own sanity. She is rescued by a homeless giant named Melchi and though she finds herself drawn to the stranger by an unexplainable attraction, he is just as confusing to her as the attacking force, as she seems to be able to read his emotions.
As the story progresses, Hailey enters even more confusing situations and constantly questions what is real around her. Doctors want to diagnose her with paranoid schizophrenia; her friends warn her of a plague of Sudden Onset Dementia that has been sweeping the city; and stranger still is Melchi's explanation of a spiritual war between an evil vampirish being known as The Mulo and a mysterious force for good called The Standing. The real answer lies somewhere between faith and science and it is up to Hailey to discover the truth in time to save several lives - including her own.
Combining faith, mystery, science, and suspense, with a dash of romance, John B. Olson has crafted one of the most intelligent works of Christian fiction on the market today. Fans of Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti will not want to miss this book - but be assured that Olson's style and voice are unique and original. Shade is a fast paced and suspenseful thriller yet even with all the action, it manages to deliver well-developed characters with plenty of heart. Olson does a great job of engaging the reader in Hailey's struggles and the challenge is on to distinguish reality from hallucination alongside the protagonist. Thought-provoking as well as entertaining, Shade is truly a book that shines!
on September 8, 2008
I really wanted to like this book much more than I actually did. I loved the basic plot, a grad student being pursued by an unknown enemy only to be saved by a heroic homeless man. Along the way both seem completely delusional, to the point where Hailey, the grad student, is treated for schizophrenia and believes the diagnosis herself. Despite this, they grow more attracted to one another and Hailey learns to reluctantly trust her hero, Melchi, and he spins a tale full of the evil Mulo, or gypsy vampire that he must destroy in order to save our world. This is a great plot with exceptional characters that were easy to like and sympathize with.
The problem was in the actual story telling. Too much was thrown into the mix. The backstory was confusing and often made me feel like the schizophrenic one, wondering what could possible be added next. The beginning of the story was chaotic and jumbled and the ending felt rushed and thrown together with random bits of story that seemed placed just to make the whole thing wrap up nice and tidy, while having nothing to do with other parts of the book. I appreciated the faith based aspects of the story and characters, especially set against the basic science, but I just felt it could have been much clearer to enable the reader to enjoy without having to scratch my head every few pages. I do however look forward to a sequel, in the hopes of shedding more light on the general plot line.
on October 1, 2008
If Shade were a movie, it would be released in July and have the term blockbuster tied to it. This book has it all--action, suspense, romance, good and evil. And if a good story isn't enough for you, Shade contains some hefty metaphorical material to chew on. John Olson uses mythological framework to explore the existence and impact of evil in our world, but if you're not careful, you'll start checking every dark corner for a real monster.
Hailey and Melchi are the kind of characters who become your fiction friends. You care about them, root for them, and chew your nails when they're in trouble, which is often.
When grad student Hailey's life is disrupted by a terrifying presence, she must either uncover the secret of the stalking menace or relinquish her shaky claim on sanity. The only person who believes her far-fetched claims is homeless hero Melchi with his bewildering knowledge and hidden abilities. Together Hailey and Melchi battle an ancient evil and discover mysteries they never imagined.
Buy this book and then clear your schedule for tomorrow because you're going to be up all night.
I really hesitated before writing this review. I don't like to give fewer than 4 stars to a book I found enjoyable, if flawed, because I know it skews readers' opinions to see those empty star slots at the top of the review. And in this case, I really did find this novel a page-turner, which made me consider a 4 rating on that basis alone. I did want to keep reading. Maybe you will, too.
The main reason I wanted to keep reading was to 1. see more of the hero, Melchi and 2. find out what was up. And I kept reading despite not liking the heroine much and finding some other characters not fully fleshed out or downright hollow.
So, what I'm saying is that for certain readers--those who like a faith component in their fantasy/spiritual warfare/thriller fiction, one that's not uber-preachy, those who like odd characters, those who have an affinity to vampirish fic or Goth elements--this novel may satisfy enough, push enough buttons, to let you overlook, as I did, the weaknesses and keep on reading.
Others have given summaries, but here's another:
~ Grad science student flips out when she experiences a psychic and physical attack (or does she?) and is diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic. But the homeless man who repeatedly saves her from her "episodes" may be proof she's not crazy (or that they both are). He believes they are playing out a prophesied scenario in a fight against a terrible evil. Well, our grad student is gonna have to find out which is which--madness or supernatural goings on-- because her life is becoming a mounting ruin and corpses are piling up around her. Plus, there's a too-too-seductive tycoon who has a whole lot of interest in both her and her homeless protector.
We follow four principal characters:
~~ Melchi, who is homeless, huge, frighteningly fast, agile and strong, and childlike in his sense of self and good/evil. He is the ascetic, the spiritual seeker mortifying flesh while enriching the mind with classics (John Milton's work plays a part, as does Bram Stoker's). He lives like a wildman, like a crazy man, uneducated and often hungry and thirsty; but he sees some things much more clearly than the sane and the educated and the well-fed and finely-housed.
~~Hailey, a grad student in biochemistry whose life spirals into a crazy whirlwind of violence and possible hallucinations. She doesn't know if she's mad or being initiated into something much more horrible than madness itself. She wants to be rational, but rising irrationality around her makes her the focal point of events that are beyond her control.
~~Athena, the Goth girl with street smarts and Gypsy heritage. Her Goth crew also falls into the darkness swirling in San Francisco, so that her path crisscrosses--and sometimes smashes--into that of Melchi and Hailey. Her cleverness and gumption are her major modes of survival when things go all to hell.
~~Sabazios Vladu, the guy you are going to inevitably compare to Vlad Dracul. But we guess he is more than a mysterious, suave, seductive, wealthy, dangerous pursuer in the vampire mode.
Those are the main players. Supporting we have a genius scientist named Boggs who, like Hailey and some other characters, have faith (at varying places and levels) and become part of the mess on the side of good. There's also a detective who from the start makes us want to ask for Columbo, instead. Homeless folks help out. And a bookstore owner (cause, yeah, we love books, so a bookstore lady has gotta be good, right?)
The strongest part of the story is Melchi. His character is always interesting when he's center stage. The prologue with him undergoing rigorous training against the foe is a great hook. Because we start in pretty much in the heat of action, the story's pace is fast. For those who like action/thrillers/zooming narrative, you can have that with Shade
The weakest is Hailey, who never lives up to the smarts we are set-up to expect. And a secondary character set-up as a "genius", never acts like any such thing. This is a problem.
Some characters drop off and aren't heard from again. And the ending leaves an open door for a sequel (while resolving some issues to satisfaction). I liked the ending (even though, as others I know who have read it said, it feels a bit rushed. The Bentley Little syndrome, I thought--a big bang finale that is just too fast to conclude.)
But the narrative drive is there. The story moves. Melchi makes it move. I love following this guy's more-than-mere-ordinary-man escapades in the treetops and rooftops of San Francisco. (Which reminds me that the setting is put to good use as part of the story.)
And the writing is quite strong in places, though this aspect is also uneven. I did savor the poetic bits here and the well-constructed passages depicting hypnotic confusion or drugged-out wackiness there.
I do not want to dissuade you from trying this novel by grading it at the middle of the star-scale. I fully intend to purchase a sequel to it if it manifests. I really found myself engaged with the hero's problem and personality and oddities. I want to see where he goes after this.
If you are at all into Christian fantasy/urban fantasy--give it a shot. You may find yourself up late, reading, like me.
on June 19, 2009
"I can feel them. The homeless man and... some kind of monster. I know what this sounds like, but I'm not crazy! I'm a grad student--here at UCSF. Something attacked me in my lab. It was in my head. I saw myself through its eyes" (Page 42).
How can graduate student Hailey Maniates be anything but terrified? The Mulo wants her dead. A homeless giant assigns himself her protector. And emergency room doctors question her sanity. Before she knows it she's locked up in a psychiatric ward with a new identity--paranoid schizophrenic. But Hailey is sure she's not having hallucinations, that she's not crazy. Well, she's pretty sure.
In this fast-paced, mind-bending thriller, Christy award winning author, John B. Olson, explores the age old battle between good and evil. Is Hailey misdiagnosed with a debilitating mental illness at the hands of an agnostic physician? Or in the supernatural battle of a lifetime with spirits of the dead?
Told from a Christian worldview, Olson employs a masterful use of language, characters that get under your skin and a genuine exploration of faith. Not so much outright scary as deep down frightening, readers will be thinking about Hailey and Melchi long after they put the book down. Shade is full of faith, mystery, science, suspense and a double-dollop of romance. Recommended for adults and older teens who like romance or thrillers.
You will not fear the terror of the night. --Psalm 91
From the Christian Library Journal; used by permission.
on November 12, 2012
The writing was captivating and suspenseful, but after finishing the book I'm still not sure what the point of the story was other than the main character is chased by bad guys and escapes. There were so many "hallucinations" thrown in that I often couldn't discern when a "hallucination" stopped and started. I have many more questions than answers. Was this story about demons or vampires or biblical characters or all three? Who or what is a Mulo and does a Mulo consist of one person or many persons? Who or what is the Standing? What is the gateway and how does it tie with the characters? Who were the bad guys and who were the good guys? If the Mulo and the Standing were enemies then why did the Mulo want to breed more Standing? What did the missing persons and many other characters and scenarios have to do with the story? How come some Mulo appeared as zombies and others appeared as regular people? That's just a few of my questions, I have tons more, but you get the jest.
on November 2, 2008
From page one you are on a wild chase through San Francisco. This is my first John B. Olson book and I'm glad I picked it up. Very detailed and emotionally gripping. I finished it within 2 evenings as I did not want to put it down. Mr. Olson does a great job of creating characters that you really care about what happens to them.
The ending was satisfying but I was so engrossed with the characters, I want to know where -is- the- sequel?? No, really, I really want to know what happens to Hailey. I will definitely look for future books by this author. You are most likey to stay up later at night to finish the next chapter, it is really hard to put down. Great Read.