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Shadow Walkers Paperback – February 8, 2011
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Hartinger’s latest combines mystery, romance, and the paranormal into a fast-paced but sometimes messy thriller. Zach finds tiny Hinder Island limiting: he is still considered an outsider, even after two years. His real life is online, where he finds the acceptance and freedom he can’t get at home. When he is grounded from his computer, he feels trapped—until he discovers astral projection. Then, when his little brother Gilbert is kidnapped, Zach tracks him from the astral realm, where he meets Emory, a mysterious boy who’s willing to help. But while they search for Gilbert and form a tentative romance, a shadowy creature stalks them, seeking to possess their physical bodies. Hartinger writes realistic teenagers, and Zach’s humor, shy awkwardness, and longing to connect will resonate with readers. Though Zach and Emory speed to the “l-word,” their relationship is as buoyant as first love should be. Other elements are less convincing, such as the lack of consistency in how the astral realm works and how the kidnapping plot pans out. Still, this quick genre-bender has something for everyone. Grades 7-10. --Krista Hutley
About the Author
Brent Hartinger is the author of eight novels for young adults, including Geography Club (HarperCollins, 2003) and Shadow Walkers (Flux, 2011). His books have been praised by reviewers at top national dailies like USA Today, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, The Oregonian and Seattle Times; leading GLBT publications The Advocate and Instinct Magazine; and top online book review outlets Bookslut.com and Teenreads.com. He is founder and editor of the fantasy website TheTorchOnline.com and also writes for AfterElton.com, the foremost online outlet for GLBT news. He lives in Seattle.
Top customer reviews
Furthermore, the second most mainest character is (spoilers) in a wheel chair. I grew up with a quadriplegic uncle and was always aghast when strangers gave him way too wide a breadth out in public. Shadow Walkers has found a really obvious way to give a kid who can't walk a pretty decent adventure. I had read one other YA paper back about a kid who couldn't even talk or anything who astral projected his consciousness, but he didn't go on an adventure. That book was just to make the reader see life from that kid's perspective. (Sorry I can't remember the name of it.)
Anyway, I thought it would be cool to stay up all night and read the whole book because the characters were staying up all night and I thought this Would be really meta. DON'T DO THIS. There is only ONE Shadow Walkers and it was pretty obvious at the end of the book that they would not get to go on another speculative-fiction romp through the dream world. Spread it out!
Negative: The romance felt a little forced, as I recall. I think their relationship could have had more definition and that we could have gotten to know the wheel chair kid a little better. Maybe he has his own book, now?
(unspoilers) I should look into this, as the writing style was highly digestible. It made me so nostalgic for when I was a wee bab in middleschool and read like every William Sleator book where the main character boy makes dumb decision after dumb decision: except every weird little consequence of those actions in Sleator's books never got wrapped up. Not so, in this book. If a weird little detail was mentioned, it came back up later on! Almost like the author re-read his work more than once or something haa that's mean
Mr. Sleator died and I feel like crap about it.
Thanks for being cool enough to write this, Brent Hartinger! I'd donate my copy to the library but I am a cheapskate germaphobe and might want to read it again but without the boogers. And it IS good enough to read twice even though it is a mystery story. More sci fi -slash- speculative fiction with YOU KNOW WHAT KIND OF ROMANCE. Kids need this representation. Some of us are sick of the same boy meets girl bullhocky you know.
I liked the setting, the isolation, and the author's illustration of the main character Zach's reliance on technology to interact with others like himself. I even enjoyed his friendship with the other astrally projecting boy. I also appreciated that the romance didn't seem forced and didn't take over the plot. It wouldn't have been realistic in the least if our protagonist simply forgot about his kidnapped brother and decided to engage in an all-out romance mid-book.
What bothered me was how kitschy an explanation was given for how Zach began to travel on the astral plane. It was never explained fully and seemed too simple an explanation. A little creativity, please?
Also, this is just personal preference on my part, but the ominous creature that provides a bit of a dark spot within the book really did nothing for me. Its origins were uninteresting and it didn't seem to pose as much of a threat as the boys made it out to do. Perhaps this is simply because it's YA, but there weren't enough details to really flesh out this character for me and make me truly dread his multiple appearances.
Overall, it was a nice bit of LGBT YA lit to add to the pile, but nothing in it really made it stand out from the pack.
P.S I could totally see this series becoming a series in some sort. Perhaps one or two more books if Hartinger really wanted to.