Release Date: November 12, 2013
Format: Kindle Book
Series: The Pentrals, #1
Page Count: 246 pages
Find it on Goodreads
*Disclaimer* I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
"Picture your life without free will.REVIEW:
No choice. No voice. No personal direction.
For 17 years, it's the only path I've known. Always a follower, never in control, I am an afterthought, burying my impulses as I bend to the whims of another. I dream of someone taking notice-of falling in love and being kissed. But I probably never will.
My name is Antares. I am a Shadow.
Deep in a secluded canyon lies Talline, a metropolis of mirrors filled with forces called Pentrals that outline our very existence. Antares, Pentral Class Two, took an oath to act without influence—to echo without opinion. But in a cruel twist of fate, she must watch as Violet, her person, encounters a tragedy that will change both their lives forever. When Violet starts making careless choices, Antares can no longer remain a silent silhouette. She won’t allow lost friendships, broken hearts, or those mysterious menaces looking out from the glass to tear apart Violet’s very being. In doing so, Antares unknowingly crosses forbidden boundaries and ends up illuminating a darkness much deeper than her own."
WHAT I LIKED:
- Mack uses a wonderful combination of "show and tell" to world-build this intriguing place. She took such an interesting concept and turned it into a world that I needed to know more about.
- The narrative was solid. The dialogue was sometimes awkward (see below) but the storytelling was done with a smooth voice. And while the narrative started out pretty solid, by the end the writing as a whole was wonderful and it seemed as if Mack had really gotten into her groove there.
- The plot was very clever and unpredictable. I suppose with such a unique premise, it's hard to be predictable, but either way, the plot twists kept me coming back for more!
- Not only is it a wonderful, intriguing story, but it felt like the entire story was a metaphor real issues: girls (well, people in general) with low self-esteem and horrible self-image; the downward spiral so many people fall into when they aren't happy with who they are (e.g. turning to drugs and prescribed medications); how much worth we put on appearance... I could go on. But Mack touched on some issues that go way beyond her plot here.
- The romance in this book hooked me instantly. Of course, a forbidden love, but it pulled at my heartstrings and I found myself grinning like a fool during certain scenes.
- Just a fun, random thought, but after I read this book, I spent some time walking around downtown on my lunch break and found myself noticing my shadow, the shadows of others, buildings, objects. I even sent a mental bullet to my would-be Pentral. And then I laughed at my self because I was so amused and delighted by the story and how it stuck with me. The author really gave this book some thought and the premise is just amazing and has so much more potential.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE:
- The pacing was a little off. Some of the reactions to major issues didn't feel right - e.g. (not a spoiler) when Violet realizes she's a Shadow, she's upset for like an hour... then it's all just OK and she's content to sit back and watch Antares living in her body instead of freaking out about being a Shadow!! I feel as though if the book had been longer, some of the awkward scenes could've been more drawn out and paced a little better.
So let me clarify one thing - this book is about a Shadow. An actual Shadow, not a being living unseen, but those dark blobs that follow your body around at every moment of the day. I was so blown away by that fact when I finally realized what I was reading. How many other books are out there about a Shadow? Every book out there in the YA world lately is about the same dystopian-related things and it can get old. This book was so refreshing and unique, I absolutely could not put it down.
While I was reading it, it kind of reminded me of The Host by Stephenie Meyer, how those aliens take over bodies, except this time, Shadows can take over bodies.. It also reminded me of Across the Universe by Beth Revis because of the Xanax-like drug called Lifts! that most of the community had taken to using - not by force but through manipulation, similar to the Phydus being used aboard the Godspeed in AtU, though that one is given by force. Anyhow, it didn't take away from the story, it was just interesting to see some of the concepts I loved in other books used in this one in completely different and creative ways.
And aside from absolutely needing to know more about Talline and the Pentrals, Mack touched on some real deep topics in this book without being cheesy or overbearing. It makes you want to reevaluate what it is you hold dear in your life - your looks? Your popularity? Are they really so important, such that when you don't have them, you would resort to medicating yourself or to taking drugs/alcohol? Must we use these weak points to bring others down when we feel down ourselves? Yeesh, this book has me getting all philosophical!
Anyway, my point is, in this very short book, Mack has managed to hook me with her plot, characters, world-building and all of the deeper messages not-so-hidden in this book. I am absolutely dying to read the next book which she says will be out some time next year. I don't know if I can wait that long.
If you're looking for a refreshing, meaningful yet quick YA read, this one is for you. I enjoyed it so much, and am looking forward to new things from Crystal Mack.
Have any of you read this book yet? If you have, do you agree with what I had to say? If not, what do you think of the premise, and is it something you might want to read? Love hearing from you guys!