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Shine Hardcover – May 1, 2012
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About the Author
Jeri Smith-Ready has been writing fiction since the night she had her first double espresso. A steady stream of caffeine has resulted in twelve published novels for teens and adults, including RT Reviewers Choice-winning fantasy EYES OF CROW; as well as the PRISM award-winning WICKED GAME and SHADE. Her most recent release is the YA contemporary novel THIS SIDE OF SALVATION, which Booklist called a "smart, unpredictable, and well-rounded tale" in its starred review.
Jeri lives in the rolling hills of Maryland with her husband and two cats, who often play tag-team "sit in the author's lap and keep her from writing." (The cats, that is, not the husband. Though actually...) When not writing, she's either out running or on Twitter.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
My phone glowed bright in the dusk-drenched cemetery. But the words on its screen filled me with a dark, heavy dread.
FLIGHT 346: NO STATUS.
I reloaded the web page for my boyfriend Zachary’s flight, then forced myself to look away. Calm down, Aura. But the black-on-white words left an afterimage floating in my vision.
NO STATUS. Blink. NO STATUS. Blink. NO STATUS.
To obliterate the image, I focused on Logan’s headstone beside me. His birth and death dates were etched in granite, seventeen years and one day apart. But the stone would never mark the date and time most important to me and to everyone Logan had haunted.
June 22, nine p.m., when he’d passed on for good. Five minutes ago. After eight months as a ghost, Logan had finally found peace.
A feeling I wouldn’t share until this stupid airline’s flight-status page started making sense.
The silence was getting to me. On this hot, still evening, no breeze stirred the trees. The two violet-hued ghosts wandering among nearby graves didn’t speak to me, maybe mired in memories of their own lost loved ones.
I plugged my earbuds into my phone, which automatically started the music player. It shuffled to a Snow Patrol song Logan and I had always adored: “Make This Go On Forever.” For the year Logan was my boyfriend, and for the last three months when we were just friends, Snow Patrol was always our band.
“The final word in the final sentence you ever uttered to me was ‘love.’ ”
My throat lumped as I realized that lyric was true.
“Don’t forget me, okay?” Logan’s golden-white glow expanded, erasing the violet from his ghostly form.
I laughed, because it was ridiculous. “I’ll never forget you. I’ll never forget your voice or your face or your dumb jokes. And I’ll never forget your love.”
He’d hushed me then. I’d thought it was because I’d gotten too cheesy, but now I realized it was because this song lyric had come to life.
Logan filled the silence with one last “I love you, Aura.” Amid a final ethereal embrace, his light faded, then winked out.
It already seemed like hours ago. Fear was replacing the peace Logan had left behind. Staring at the phone screen that gave me no answers, I felt more alone than ever.
The bouquet of white roses I’d brought seemed to glow against his dark gray headstone. I pulled out a single bloom to keep for myself. A stray thorn scraped my palm, leaving a thin red stripe but no blood.
The song’s last, quiet chord seemed to call to the handful of stars appearing above. They were a pitiful showing compared to the silver-studded sky blanket Zachary and I had lain under last night.
Hmm. Our star-gazing field was only a half hour from this cemetery north of Baltimore. I longed to return to the field, to feel close to Zachary. But first I wanted to be sure his flight had taken off.
My voice mail alert bleeped. I sighed at Aunt Gina’s half-hour-old message. Why couldn’t she nag me via text like everyone else’s mom did?
The music stopped while her message played:
“Aura, it’s eight thirty. Don’t forget we’re getting up at five a.m. for your DMP interview, and we still need to go over what you’re going to tell them about Logan’s concert. I don’t want to be rehearsing in the car on the way to headquarters.”
“Fine.” I deleted the message and returned to the browser, which I refreshed again.
This time nothing happened. The status page for Zachary’s flight was now blank.
“Damn it!” My outburst drew the attention of the nearest ghost, a boy near my age wearing an old-fashioned high-school football uniform, the kind with leather helmets. Since ghosts are captured in the happiest moment of their lives, this guy could’ve been older than his apparent seventeen when he died. I imagined his “best day ever”—winning the state championship while his favorite cheerleader shook her pom-poms just for him.
The song switched to the swelling opening strains of Arcade Fire’s “Ready to Start.” The drums slapped my brain and the guitar crunched my nerves.
Propelled by the music, my longing took on an edge. Zachary had been unofficially deported for causing trouble for the Department of Metaphysical Purity. We’d sworn to meet up in Ireland for our birthdays in December, in defiance of every obstacle. But I honestly didn’t know if I’d ever see him again.
Hell, I didn’t even know if his freaking plane had taken off. All I knew was that in the airport, he and Logan had met for the first and last time.
In a fresh browser window, I brought up the airline’s home page again, then thumbed in 346, Zachary’s flight connecting through London on his way to Glasgow, Scotland.
The site paused, searching, searching, searching. . . .
My grip on the phone grew slippery with sweat. I fidgeted with the seam of one of my worn black Skechers.
What was I worried about? Was I creeped out by the headstones’ lengthening shadows and the slow pacing of the ghosts? Like everyone in the world born after me, I’d lived with ghosts my whole life. They never scared me, unless they turned into the bitter, toxic versions of themselves known as shades, which were still pretty rare.
In the corner of my eye, something moved, dark and gray. I yelped and spun around, yanking out my earbuds. A squirrel skittered away to watch me from the top of a low-set headstone.
“I gotta get out of here,” I muttered. “This place is making me crazy.” Clearly, since I was now talking out loud to myself.
My phone buzzed, making my heart leap. Maybe it was Zachary with news about his flight.
But then it warbled the ring tone assigned to my best friend Megan. The screen said TIFFANY. I’d replaced my contact names with code versions after the DMP had confiscated my phone last week. Last night Zachary and I’d bought new phones, both red, to communicate solely with each other.
“Hey!” I answered. “Guess who I saw at the cemetery?” Everyone, including me, had thought Logan had passed on at his farewell concert two nights ago.
“Are you still there?” she blurted.
“I was about to leave. Gina’s bugging me to—”
“But you’re not driving now?”
“No,” I said impatiently. “Aren’t you gonna guess who I saw?”
“Aura . . . you don’t know, do you?”
“Know about what?” My laugh was nervous, even though Megan was known to go Maximum Drama over celebrity breakups and cafeteria gossip. “What happened?”
“You’re sure you’re not driving.”
She paused for the length of a shaky breath. “What was Zachary’s flight number?”
The world stopped. Even the nearby ghosts seemed to halt in their tracks.
“Why?” I whispered with what felt like my last exhale.
“It just came on the news. A London flight out of BWI. It took off at eight thirty and—it went down. Flight 346.”
My body went numb. My eyes fixed on a stranger’s grave across the lane. A pensive angel stared back from her perch on a rose-marble headstone.
“Aura? Are you there? Was that his flight?”
I could barely feel my lips part. “Uh-huh.”
“Oh my God.” The last word was a squeak.
I swallowed, ready to topple. “Did they—were there any—” The word “survivors” wouldn’t come.
“They’re saying there was an explosion. It came down in—” Her voice broke. “Aura, I’m sorry. It came down in pieces.”
Top customer reviews
Then, tragedy strikes and things get out of control and Zach disappears from everyone's life. They know where he is, but no one can see him and they can't get him released. And Aura is in as much or more danger from the DMP than ever. A lot of this book takes place with Aura and Zach apart from each other. Aura tries to figure out the Shade/Shift thing while trying to figure out how to get Zach back. Her aunt does all she can to help but the DMP is formidable.
There are a lot of endings and beginnings of relationships in this novel and maybe it all has to do with Logan's death, how much it changed everyone's life and plans. Mickey just isn't the same without him. Dylan seems to sometimes want to take his place with Aura, but they know there is nothing but friendship between them. And then when Aura finally gets to see Zach, she finds a shell of the former Zach, a haunted boy, instead of the shining, happy Zach. And she doesn't know how to get him back.
I loved that Zach was damaged in this one. Aura had been damaged in the first book and Zach had been the strong one. They were somewhat more equal in the second book, growing as a couple. But in this book, Zach needs Aura. And she knows it. Video Chats aren't going to help she has to be with him. And that's the other thing Jeri Smith-Ready does really well. Those awkward first moments. The first time.Just enough information, but not like we were prying. Even providing some levity to the situation. And then the need to touch each other and kiss and reassure and feel each other again and again after that first time. But there was more than that. There was so much real love written into those scenes, feelings, I wanted to be Aura! Of course, things can't be happily ever after, there was too much to do. Figure out the Shift, stop the ghosts, the DMP, make Aura and Zach safe. The list was endless and Jeri Smith-Ready continued the harrowing adventure, not letting the Aura and Zach rest until the very last few pages.
I'll say that I closed the book with a happy sigh feeling that everything had been addressed and all the bases had been covered. I was happy with the way everything had turned out, but I sure wish there were another adventure with Aura and Zach in the works. Maybe solving some other kind of mystery.
Thank you Jeri Smith-Ready for being so involved with your readers during the YA Crush Tourney, for writing such a great trilogy and for a very satisfying conclusion to one series that will go on my special shelf to be re-read again and again.
The beginning was a bit slow for me and not a lot of action happens because Aura was still trying to figure things out with the DMP and Zachary, her mom's past, and her future. There are a lot of closure moments in this book, so you get to see the Keeley siblings, how their lives are now and their plans for the future. Things change a lot in this book, couples break up and others get together. Jeri really gave each character their "day in the sun", even Logan, who is totally in this book in spirit and thought. The plot twists and thickens in Shine though and the pacing picks up a lot after the second half of the book.
My biggest problem with Shine would probably have to be that there wasn't enough of Zachary! LOL! Yes, I desperately needed more of him, but it was necessary for the plot to develop, I know. I'd say he's pretty much non-existent in the first half of the book because the DMP, and a very sinister force behind them, are basically holding him hostage. After that ordeal, you'll notice quite a few changes in Zachary that will break your heart, but thankfully, his love for Aura is unwavering, and was the key to keeping his sanity. Oh, the moment that they finally meet again is so sweet and the anticipation and buildup of them rekindling relationship is definitely one of my favorite moments throughout the whole series. I love them as a couple!
I'd say Shine is a stellar ending to this unique and fun trilogy. I enjoyed each book very much, from the memorable characters to the thrilling plot. Jeri wove an excellent tale of love, mystery, and adventure that even readers who aren't into paranormal books would enjoy. This book definitely closed up everything nicely and made me love the series even more. I'm sad to see it end, but I hope Jeri will thrill fans will snippets of Aura and Zachary's lives here and there in the future.