by Samantha LaFountain
Shade is the first book in a three part series written by Jeri Smith-Ready and published by Simon Pulse. The story is set in a world where everyone born after the “Shift” has the ability to see ghosts. The main character, Aura, works as an interpreter to help ghosts pass on by bringing them justice. Her thoughts on ghosts change drastically when her boyfriend, Logan, becomes one. As this happens a new boy, Zachary, moves to town with a boatload of mystery and an alluring Scottish accent. Aura is forced to work on a school project with him and tries to ignore how much she likes him, especially when her dead boyfriend is around. There is a trial, romance, heartache, grief, and huge overarching mystery about the Shift which is the focus for the rest of the series.
I truly believe in Aura’s character, her hopes and dreams, but more so in her honest confusion during the most overwhelming moments. In the moments of Logan’s death she thought, “I wanted to move far away, take someone else’s past and future. It would hurt too much to be me right now.” Those words hit me hard as I thought of my own moments of loss. Aura is a very self-reliant character but I feel her vulnerability as she questions her decisions and the future. More so when she questions herself part way through the novel, saying to herself, “I don’t know what I’ve become.” I feel her guilt as she realizes she needs to move on without Logan and what that could mean for him. I think one of the best themes explored is the idea of what would happen if our loved ones didn’t pass on when they died?
Readers learn the rules of this new world through the characters, which I prefer over a giant information dump in one go. In the very first chapter readers learn how ghosts find peace in the universe by suing the living, through a simple conversation between two characters. No moment goes un-wasted in this story. I am a bit weary when there is a sexual scene; the scenes in this book are tastefully done; however, they tend to pull a reader out of the narration. For example, Aura’s turmoil about how she almost lost her virginity with Logan seems out of place; but, this self-reflection becomes very important later on in the story.
I suppose my only criticism is Zachary seems a little too flawless and understanding but I can tell a reader has not seen the last of him yet. I can’t wait to see how his relationship develops with Aura, especially after the big reveal about their connection. I’m excited to read the rest of the series and to learn more about this world. There are some pretty big questions left to be answered which keeps a reader hungry for the next book.