Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready

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Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A near-superlative romantic thriller for the teen audience, with a girl trying to remain in love, and help, the ghost of her boyfriend.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: September 2010
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Books
ISBN: 978-1847389404

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Meet Aura. She was one of the first people in the world to be born after The Shift, beyond which every newborn was opened to the world of the ghosts, hearing and seeing them whether they liked to or not. Her boyfriend, Logan, who she wants to make love to for the first time on the night of his seventeenth birthday, suddenly dies first instead - making him one of the many ghosts Aura might be able to help. But is something of greater help buried in a school project, touching on standing stone circles, the solstices, the mysteries of her own family's past - and a new young man in her life?

The way the ghost of Logan is subtly put at odds with the surviving adults in his Baltimore Irish Catholic family is only one of the markers pointing to this being a superior teen read. It's one for the older teenaged audience, with some strongish language, drug use, and mature topics, like the inherent regret of Aura as she is beholden to the lad who kept her a virgin by dying, while split between him and actual, living company.

But this is not just a soppy teen supernatural romance. The mystery of the truth behind The Shift is drip-dripped in front of us, with the help of a spooky female professor. It is after all an intriguing premise - a world suddenly full of "Sixth Sense" kids, 500 million infants (as they are counted here) all having to convince their parents they see dead people.

And it works a lot better because it's grounded in a fully realised world. The Shift killed off the medium's ability to interact with the psychic world. Ghosts for some reason really dislike the colour red. This reads like North America in 2010 in every aspect, but soon the first children with the ability will be adults - and if the government have their way, working for them. There are more than standard ghosts out there...

I could go on - doing my own drip-drip of the many notable factors in these pages. But I won't. They're pages that turn very quickly, whatever your age or gender. You get close to the actions and emotions of Aura, with her first person narration, which seems spot on, whether with the darkness and puzzles of the set-up or the very emotive soppier bits as she and new man Zach get closer.

There does come a time when you realise this is only the first book in a series, and you might feel differently to that fact than I do. I, for one, cannot wait - the ending is wide open for what comes after. It's almost a perfect, superlative read - I won't pass judgment on the cover, and one adult decision seems a bit silly to me. But on the whole this is a sterling premise, an engaging heroine, and the beginnings of a story cycle I shall be most intently following.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

More moonlight shenanigans regarding a certain time of night can be found in Secret Hour (Midnighters) by Scott Westerfeld.

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Buy Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready at


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