Saturday, April 13, 2013

Shade's Children by Garth Nix

Premise: Set in a future dystopia, where the Overlords have decreed that no human can live past their 14th birthday, four fugitive teens set out to put society back on track. Under the watchful eyes of their once-human mentor, Shade, they come face to face with all manner of evils.

Title: Shade's Children
Author: Garth Nix
Length: 345 pages
Genre: Science Fiction ~ Dystopia
Series or Stand-Alone: Stand-Alone
Content appropriate for: Grades 9-12 (some adult content)

3 adjectives that describe this book: futuristic, gritty, action-packed

After reading (and loving) Nix's Sabriel earlier this month, I decided to seek out more of his work. I really enjoy good dystopian fiction, but lately they all seem the same. Shade's Children was remarkably fresh and appropriately dark. The world of this book is the near-future, making the story terrifyingly believable.

The story centers on the character of Shade, a former human now living in a complex computer server. Shade collects children who have escaped the hands of the Overlords. He trains these children to gather information on the Overlords in an attempt to overthrow them. These missions often result in death. This begs the question, "How much sacrifice is acceptable in the pursuit of freedom?"

Character and back-story development emerge largely via interludes between each chapter. These include interviews with key characters, entries in Shade's journal, and records of video surveillance. Though these pieces annoyed me at first, I quickly realized that they are vital and compelling elements of the story. I especially enjoyed the pieces that gave us insight into the true purpose of the Overlords. 

I absolutely loved Shade's Children. It even made me cry. The only thing that kept me from giving it a full 5 stars is that the ending was a bit too happily-ever-after for me. 

4.5 stars

 I chose Shade's Children as my dystopian entry in the 2013 Eclectic Reader Challenge from Book'd Out.

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