- Age Range: 12 and up
- Grade Level: 7 and up
- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books (September 26, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0399165797
- ISBN-13: 978-0399165795
- Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (159 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #667,778 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Shadows Hardcover – September 26, 2013
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-This fast-paced novel is set in Newworld, where magic is illegal and individuals who carried the gene for it had their DNA modified several generations ago. Teenager Maggie is still reeling from the death of her father when her mother falls in love with a mysterious man, Val, who's from Oldworld, where magic is still used. However, it's the shadows that follow Val that worry her and not just the fact that her mother has moved on. Soon after meeting Casimir, a cute, recent immigrant from Oldworld, things really start to get strange. When a "cobey," a dangerous gap in reality, opens up at a local park, Maggie instinctively closes it by making origami talismans out of pages from her math textbook. Once her mother and stepfather finally reveal their own histories with magic, Maggie is exposed to a side of the world she didn't know existed. This fantasy focuses on the relationships among characters. There is enough Newworld vocabulary to create and support the strange and enchanted setting, but not so much as to confuse or frustrate readers. Shadows is a dense book in parts, but teens will be motivated to keep reading by the exciting action, lovable characters, and witty dialogue.-Sunnie Lovelace, Wallingford Public Library, CTα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journal. LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
McKinley’s distinctive voice instantly draws the reader into an alternative America where magic, once fairly commonplace, has been genetically removed from the population. Although the government attempts to control magic with science, there are still collisions and unexplained breaks between worlds that release strange energy and beings into Newworld. Our narrator and guide is Maggie, whose mother has gotten remarried to an Oldworlder named Val. Val is accompanied by creepy shadows only Maggie can see, which makes her dislike her stepfather even more. She works after school at an animal shelter, and it is her intense love of animals that helps unravel the multiple plot threads, which include several romances and origami that can contain magical outbreaks. Fascinating backstories reveal that magic isn’t as dead in Newworlders as the government would like everyone to believe. Maggie’s wry and witty conversational tone is an excellent vehicle for relating her fantastic yet logical adventures. McKinley’s smooth but swift pace sets the stage for a welcome sequel. Grades 7-12. --Debbie Carton
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Top customer reviews
I love the tools the good guys use to save the world ... no swords or massive explosions here! Its animals and origami, books and fuzzy friends, and there's not a bit of cuteness anywhere. The tension builds rapidly, as the main part of the story takes place in about three days. The good guys are neither stunningly beautiful nor overflowing with wisdom or power. They make things up as they go along, and the ties between parents and children, animals and their people, and deep friendships allow them to overcome a very bad situation. I like that this feels like kids awakening to a bad situation and their growing awareness that one's senior year in high school is not meant to be one of life's pinnacles.
I also like the implication that evil doesn't spring from dark supernatural creatures, but from ordinary humans trying to face problems with a military, security, or police state mindset. This is not a political book, and the canine and feline characters kept me smiling. It didn't leave me breathless (like Sunshine) or feeling as though I'd just eaten something splendid and chocolate (Spindle's End), but as if I'd spent an engrossing evening wrapped in a cozy quilt with an animal companion I loved.
I just wish that there were a few surprises in the book. Everything pretty much played out just as I expected it would. I remember reading the Hero and the Crown, Sunshine, and even Dragonhaven practically on the edge of my seat because I was so riveted by the story and was desperate to find out what would happen next. I read Shadows sedately; I was entertained but not captivated. It's a good book and I definitely recommend it, but it's not the best book I've read all year, or even all month.
In Shadows, McKinley followed her idiomatic muse from Sunshine onward into a land that holds weirder slang, Japanese, and the odd German to make it even less comprehensible. I didn't find this terribly difficult for the most part, because the words are repeated and explained, and they are usually nestled into something contextual. Though, as the action picked up, I had to stay concentrated on the story or the words would slither out of my grasp. Towards the end of the book, even her English required double-takes. For example, while I understand the concept when I hear it, "head-onned" (hit by a car coming at you) is not something I normally see in print.
Despite the language games, McKinley did not stray far from her literary roots in this book. Anyone who has read Sunshine or Dragonhaven should be right at home in this storyland. Our heroine Maggie is a teenage girl who is good in literature, horrible in math, not so great in communication, and fabulous in loyalty and family (see also: Aerin, Hari, Rae). She absolutely adores animals (see also: Honor, Aerin, Jake, Deerskin), and has an awesome dog as well as a dog-family at the local shelter. Maggie and her family live on the side of the planet - literally named "NewWorld" - where magic has been outlawwed in favor of technology. However, the rifts of reality in the world are getting worse right in her hometown. When things start going aggressively sideways, Maggie follows her puzzling instincts (Rae, Jake, Marisol) into the realms of magic.
I enjoyed the teenage-ness about this book. McKinley gave Maggie's story the almost-typical setting upon which to build her larger world. Maggie has a wonderful mom, a weirdo step-dad, a lovable but annoying younger brother, a joined-at-the-brain best friend, the cute boy she's known forever, and the cute boy who just got to town. She also has a hideously huge remedial algebra text book, an origami habit, a wildly overactive dog, and oh, yeah, those weird jagged shadows with too many legs and silver eyes that follow her step-dad around.
I also enjoyed Maggie's realism and groundedness about herself and her friends. Even when she was unsure about the rest of the world, she was sure of her best friend Jill and her dog Mongo. She had a lot more of the Marisol-like trust in the animals around her. She also had a lot less internal rambling and self-doubt than Rae. Don't mistake me for saying that Maggie had a clue, though. McKinley's tendency to shove and tumble her heroines through the confusion and chaos (and fight scenes) has not changed from the days of Aerin and Maur. The sidekick teams in this story were much more interesting than I expected. I enjoyed learning about each one individually as well as in groups as the story dashed and then plodded through after school excitement and in-school normalcy. I appreciate the time and care that McKinley took in describing the animal team, especially.
I recommend it to fans of McKinley. I'm not sure what else to say. This isn't her best work, but ranks happily in the upper-middle. It also doesn't fail to make the point like Pegasus.
Maggie's new stepfather is surrounded by terrifying, lurking shadows. He's short, hairy, and has terrible dress sense. Maggie suspects he may even be a magician -- despite the fact that there aren't supposed to be magicians anymore, that magic is evil and dangerous and thoroughly illegal.
McKinley's world building, characters, plot, and prose are all solid. My two complaints are that 1) the whole book felt somewhat shallower than necessary -- i.e., the themes were all fairly straightforward and black and white, and 2) the ending was abrupt and not entirely satisfying. It felt more like the first book in a trilogy than a standalone. That being said, Shadows still gets my recommendation as a thoroughly enjoyable book.
Most recent customer reviews
SPOILER! I was upset when I got to the end and found myself hanging from a metaphorical cliff the size of Everest.Read more