Friday, March 1, 2013

Review: The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski

Darcy Jones doesn’t remember anything before the day she was abandoned as a child outside a Chicago firehouse. She has never really belonged anywhere—but she couldn’t have guessed that she comes from an alternate world where the Great Chicago Fire didn’t happen and deadly creatures called Shades terrorize the human population.

Memories begin to haunt Darcy when a new boy arrives at her high school, and he makes her feel both desire and desired in a way she hadn’t thought possible. But Conn’s interest in her is confusing. It doesn’t line up with the way he first looked at her.

As if she were his enemy.

When Conn betrays Darcy, she realizes that she can’t rely on anything—not herself, not the laws of nature, and certainly not him. Darcy decides to infiltrate the Shadow Society and uncover the Shades’ latest terrorist plot. What she finds out will change her world forever . . .

Hardcover, 416 pages

Published October 16th 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux 
(info grabbed from GoodReads)

The Shadow Society is a book bursting with great ideas, and it does not let the reader down with those ideas.  The world the author has created is original and interesting.  I loved the differences the author picked between the two Chicago’s, like how alt-Chicago is slightly more advanced with their crazy subway system and how the guy who started the Chicago Fire is an enshrined hero.  I almost wish there were a sequel so I could explore the world more and maybe get to know the characters better, as Darcy’s group of friends are all interesting and separate people that aren’t really delved into as much as I would like.  But there is not a sequel and the book does have some hiccups I feel need to be noted.

I honestly felt like the chemistry of the romance felt strained, almost as if it were forced.  It didn’t feel natural, like the characters would have never fallen in love without the writer making it so.  I didn’t find it believable and was reluctant to enjoy that part of the book.  A lot of this stems from how their relationship starts off, which is of mutual dislike.  Actually, more like “I hate your existence” and “I’m afraid of you.”  It felt like an extreme jump of faith for these characters to fall in love.  However, I find that I am turned off by this sort of dynamic more than others.

The ending felt too faerie-tale-esque for me.  I like books better when they have a little edge or some sense of danger, and I didn’t get that so much from The Shadow Society.  I almost want to say this book is more midgrade than YA for that reason; I feel it is more appropriate for that age group.  I found The Shadow Society lacking in the complexity I have grown to expect from YA literature.  While disappointing in one way, having a lighter read once in a while is welcome to me.  But if you were looking for a dark vision of Chicago with an intricate plot, you may want to look elsewhere.

So there you have it: The Shadow Society is set in a greatly imagined world with well defined characters, but not the dark, creepy story I was expecting from the cover and title.  I feel it is definitely worth a read if you like midgrade and/or clean YA.  It was a fun quick read with a somewhat cheesy ending, but who doesn’t love a bit of cheese now and then?

Final Thought: 16 out of 24 toadstools

This review is also posted on GoodReads


  1. Sounds like an interesting book! I just noticed that all your comments on my blog have been ending up in the spam folder (Why - I have no idea). I'll pay more attention in the future ;)

    1. ... D: Huh. That actually doesn't terribly surprise me and kind of explains a lot about my interactions with many other blogs. Thank you for letting me know.

      Dear Google,
      I'm not a robot, I promise.
      Love, Momo.

  2. This sounds interesting! I'm not excited about the romance, but I don't say know to a great world-building :) The fairytale-ish ending doesn't sound too bad, since I love fairytales. Great review!