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Shade's Children Mass Market Paperback – September 18, 1998
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In the brutal world of Shade's Children, your 14th birthday is your last. Malevolent Overlords rule the earth, directing hideous, humanoid creatures to harvest the brains and muscles of teens for use in engineering foul beasts to fight senseless wars. Young Gold-Eye escapes this horrific fate, fleeing the dormitories before his Sad Birthday. He is rescued from certain doom by other refugees who live in an abandoned submarine and work for Shade, a strange, computer-generated adult. Shade provides food and shelter in exchange for information that the children gather on dangerous forays into Overlord territory. But what does Shade really want? He is a sworn enemy of the Overlords, but his use of the children to gain knowledge and power seems uncaring and ruthless. Finally, Gold-Eye and his new friends set out to destroy the Overlords--with or without the enigmatic, dangerous Shade. Garth Nix, author of Sabriel, blends suspense, action, and high emotion in this excellent, fast-moving science-fiction story. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Earth has been taken over by the terrible Overlords in this "amply imagined" science fiction/quest story, said PW. "The twists and turns of the action-filled plot are compelling." Ages 12-up. (Oct.) r
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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First, the setting is different: dystopian, post-apocalyptic earth. Strange, unknown creatures ruling the earth, doing experiments on and altering humans to become even stranger creatures, and one group trying to rise against the main system and return everything to the way it was. They do this with the strange powers they got since The Change. Oh, and they're all young adults. Whatever apocalypse happened (Nix leaves it unclear and murky, more true to the "we're not sure what happened" feel of the characters' world rather than the reader knowing everything), it took away any adults that existed at the time. Technology, strange powers, and pure survival instinct all help the characters try and defeat this new system.
The writing is worth mentioning. Some of it is traditional narrative style, third person. Some of it is readouts or internal recordings from Shade, of the title, which are more like computer documents and logs. It's a fascinating read, and a successful experiment from Garth Nix.
Nonstop action, good characterization, excellent world building and all around great story. Its written so there's a bit of sorta diary excerpt from one of the characters and then the chapter, saying just one more over and over again meant I read the book in under 24 hours. The characters have emotions but they're in the diary bits, and don't get in the way of the action ever. I mean, these are the survivors in an extraordinary dystopia, their feelings wouldn't get in the way or they wouldn't have lasted this long.
In this story, 14 years ago, all humans over the age of 14 disappeared, and overlords came and started herding kids into dorms where they would eventually be taken and used as parts for the overlords monsters. No after school special type issue, no big technobabble explanation, something just happened. And in this book, things never stop happening. You won't be able to put this book down once you start.
I glanced through the other reviews a little harder and must include, yes this book deals with sexual themes some. Also love, and enough violence and scary setting that I wouldn't think it would be well suited to a 12 year old. I'm an adult and didn't think of the age this was directed torwards at all. It seems great for all ages but by this I mean perhaps older 14 or 16 and up.
"Shade's Children" is remarkably different from those books. The themes are more adult; there is sexual content, (mild); the violence is more visceral; the dystopian world is much more upsetting. This is a fine, exciting, well-imagined, and internally consistent stand-alone book, but it is not standard Nix. You might want to read the sample chapter to get a sense of its level of darkness.