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Shadows Paperback – August 6, 2013
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"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Pre-order today
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"In this sequel to the nail-biting horror of Ashes (BCCB 10/11), Alex must face the hard truth that the supposedly good people of Rule, a small enclave of those who survived the electromagnetic pulse that killed much of the world's population, are actually feeding the Changed (teenagers who have been transformed into mute cannibals by the same pulse). Elsewhere, Tom has recovered in the wilderness and searches for Alex as he tries to avoid the bounty hunters looking for the Spared; Peter is not so lucky, and ends up in the hands of Finn, whose sadistic experiments might have some utility if he weren't bat-guano crazy. Meanwhile, Chris and Lena have also escaped Rule, but their path through Changed territory is threaded with danger. Bick amps up both the gore and the suspense in an already hair-raising, edgy thriller series, and her prose style has grown even richer, offering imagery that is disturbingly vivid and horrifically, perversely beautiful at times. She also deepens and complicates the motivational base by introducing a fraught history of intergenerational conflict and corruption as well as the possibility that main characters, including Alex and Lena, are still vulnerable to having their status change from Spared to Changed. Readers should be warned to clear their calendars before they pick this up, because they won't be doing much of anything else until they turn the last, cliff-hanging page. " ―The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books(Journal)
"Earth's few remaining normal teenagers struggle to survive in this gruesome, bloody post-apocalyptic sequel.
The world's gone completely to hell: All nonelderly adults are dead, and most teenagers are Changed into zombielike feral children who eat humans alive. Survivors huddle into protective enclaves and protect themselves with deadly force. Resolving the cliffhanger ending of Ashes (2011)―Alex flees from the strangely religious community of Rule only to stumble into the bone-strewn larder of a pack of Changed―takes 100 pages to resolve, mostly due to the shifts in perspective to other un-Changed teenagers driving these action-packed short chapters. Alex is a prisoner of the Changed, and as they drive her through the snowy wilderness, she sees that their behavior is, disturbingly, growing less feral: They use guns, make uniforms and practice profitless cruelties. The remaining adults seem nearly as cruel, practicing Josef Mengele–style experiments and killing children to cover ancient political feuds. Sometimes it seems like the only difference is that the Changed eat their prey, devouring them in sensuously described murder and torture scenes packed with fountaining blood and festooned guts. Nearly every chapter ends with a cliffhanger, keeping the horror appropriately unending: 'And then Spider squeezed the trigger.' 'The knife hacked down with a whir.' 'And then, it moved.'
Plenty of mysteries and betrayals set up the trilogy's forthcoming conclusion, which fans will eagerly await." ―Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
LSA J. BICK is a child psychiatrist, film scholar, former Air Force major, and now a full-time author. Her critically acclaimed, award-winning YA novels include Draw the Dark, Drowning Instinct, Ashes (a 2011 VOYA Perfect Ten), and Shadows. Ilsa currently lives in rural Wisconsin, near a Hebrew cemetery. One thing she loves about the neighbors: they're very quiet and only come around for sugar once in a blue moon. Visit her online at www.ilsajbick.com or adr3nalin3.blogspot.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @ilsajbick.
Top customer reviews
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I enjoyed the expected journey we took in Ashes and fell in love with Alex, Tom, Ellie, even some of the Rule folk. That is the number one thing that kept me reading furiously. It wasn't the book's own inherent quality, which I felt declined somewhat towards the end, especially as we strained the plot points well beyond any hope of plausibility. A few of the characters I didn't really care for the first time around (like Lena) made me converts. And I am certainly a "secret society isn't always what it seems" kinda gal. However, be warned, there is a whole cast of new characters and frankly, many of them are just unlikeable. And when I finally found out what was going on in Rule (really, Alex realizes this in the last line of Ashes...does she forget she knows this???), well I kinda, sorta felt like we already knew that and the details filled in were a bit too convenient.
The book attempts more to show the limits of human depravity than the story of the characters we learned to love. This was an unfortunate direction because it lost much of its focus and my interest in it. How the "changed" were addressed was the most disappointing to me. MINOR SPOILERS - The movement of the "changed" from raw creatures to highly functional cannibals with supernatural powers made no sense to me. At all. Sure they were still scary, but I can't imagine that they would gain almost all their abilities back, but lack any ounce of compassion. It was easier for me to imagine them as feral. Oh and the whole militia thing was a distraction and a bit of a crock. SPOILERS END.
Quick comment about the gore - I know that many readers addressed it, but I wanted to as well. I have read and seen many horror movies and novels, but I too found it to be a bit misplaced and sometimes too in-your-face. I do have trouble with violence involving young children and animals and neither are spared in this novel (sometimes with graphic detail). When are we going to redefine YA lit so that a book doesn't automatically default to YA just because the main characters are young? But I digress...
Am I going to read number 3? Yes, probably because I want to know how it ends. But if I had a friend that was reading it and could tell me what happens in 10 minutes or less, I might go with that option instead.
Author: Ilsa J. Bick
Rating: 3 Stars
Wow there is a LOT going on here. It had been a while so I had to go back and re-read most of Ashes to figure out what was going on. And that's because in this title Bick uses many more characters and POVs than in Ashes. In fact, the overall cast is pretty darned huge. It's definitely a bridge book. You get the sense that she has all these pieces, people, and places that she's weaving together...but they are mostly so disjointed that the story jumping can be a little challenging to follow.
Also, it gets hard to hold onto your love for the original main characters because you don't get to hear from them as much. I did like that there was still plenty of Alex. Without that, I'm not even sure if I would have been interested in the rest of the story. The first book gets you very invested in Alex's character and well-being and you wouldn't care for anyone else at all, I think, if you didn't get a lot of her perspective in this book.
Ungodly disgusting things happen in this book. Unspeakable, horrifying, nauseating things. It adds to the terror, but for me it pushes it so far into the *yuk* category that it was sometimes hard to take. Alex is always smelling something rotten, or fetid, or putrid. I swear, I've never seen the word *snot* used more in a single book in my life. I know Bick's purposefully pushing the envelope and for real zombie lovers, that will probably go over well. For me it was a little too much phlegm, pus, blood, blowback, etc. in general and not enough love or triumph or peace to balance it. When nothing but bad things happen with no in-between, I get a little fatigued.
When I was trying to characterize what I felt overall about this book the thing that came to mind was this: too many, "Dear God, No!"s. It's like the end of each POV has to have that DUHN-DUHN-DUHN moment to it. That sounds great because she does give you tension, but when you do that EVERY time you leave a character POV and there are (Alex, Chris, Lena, Peter, Jed, and I can't remember who else) THAT many characters, you end up with about 30 "Dear God, No!"s and you end up with the boy who cried wolf scenario... I ignore it. I don't believe it. I think, "Whatever. Everything is horrifying," and it all blends into one.
What I Did Like
Again, she used enough Alex for me to like it. I was always rooting for her. Also, I love Tom. Tom is completely impossible not to love. Her action scenes, though too many and too long for my taste, were well-written and gave you a proper sense of how bad-ass Alex is. I like the whole concept of the CHANGE and what may cause it or affect it. You know I love it whenever people try to get all science-y. I like the mysteries surrounding Rule. There is something much older and deeper than the EMP going on there and you really want to know what it is. I like the mysteries surrounding the cause of the EMP. Was it the military? Are they rounding up children? I also like the way she portrays all the different ways that people might react in this vastly different world of children and seniors. Since nearly everyone else is gone, you have to remember while you read that everyone in her story is either very young or very old. So militias form, but some are run by older people and some are run by younger people. Bounty hunters seek children and the Changed. There are looters and raiders who are unaffiliated with anything or anyone. And there's bastions like Oren and Rule. All of that world-building stuff that she's done, I really liked.
First of all, Bick is a very capable writer. In fact, her vocabulary sometimes had me reaching for my dictionary, and that is quite a feat! Also, I did read this pretty quickly because I was dying for certain things to happen, that unfortunately didn't...in this book. (No spoilers since this is a new title.) Still, I'm not giving it 2 stars or saying don't read it. It was entertaining enough and my interest in finishing Alex's unique story is strong enough that I would recommend this to those who liked the first. That's why I'm giving it 3 stars, and that's why I plan to read the final installment. And if you really like zombie grossness and unending, teeth-chomping action, this one is probably a 4 or 5 star book for you.
Most recent customer reviews
I hate to say it, but I am pretty disappointed with this one.Read more