Review: “The Shadow Society” by Marie Rutkoski


Title: “The Shadow Society”

Author: Marie Rutkoski

Genre: YA, paranormal, romance

Publication Date: October 16, 2012 (Macmillan – North America)

Source: Publisher-provided ARC/NetGalley Review Copy

Summary: 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..

☆: 4/5 – a great YA hit for Rutkoski!

Review: Wow. This is one of the most original PNRs I’ve read this year in the paranormal genre – and that’s saying something, since I’ve read quite a few. While it wasn’t perfect, I had a good time reading “The Shadow Society”, and would definitely recommend it as a genre book for everyone to check out. Yeah, not everyone’s going to like it, but I found myself really absorbed into nearly every aspect in Rutkoski’s world.

What I loved the most: the worldbuilding. While it wasn’t as full as it could have been, it was still enough for me to really get into. I loved the Sanctuary, I loved the comparison of the-Earth-that-is-not-ours to that of the Alter, I loved the details like the art museum and the alternatives to the famous paintings and sculptures we know in our world like “The Thinker” (in the world with the Society, it’s “The Dreamer”), the different state birds on the silver spoons that Marsha collected, and so forth. I thought all of those were really nice touches, but I definitely did want more on the Society in terms of sensory language and imagery – but I also understand that because of how the Shades are physiologically, the bareness that was left undeveloped made a lot of sense.

The pseudo-love triangle worked, too, as it was one-sided. THANK GOD FOR THAT. I’m glad that Rutkoski decided to make it one-sided (and in more than one circumstance, with more than one boy), as said boy was exceptionally rapey. Ugh. But Orion’s loathesomeness only illustrated the better options Darcy had…though I can’t say that Conn was that much better until his own character development about halfway in. I feel like the characters in our world (Marsha, Lily, and the gang) were a lot more developed than those in the Society world, and I kind of wanted more there. I wanted more on the IBI’s agents, wanted more on its history, wanted more on the Shades and its other instances of terrorism, and so forth. The world itself on the Society’s side was far more developed than the characters it held, and that was a bit disappointing.

As for the actual plot arc – well, I’m glad that there were individual character arcs for Darcy, Conn, and Orion, but there were parts where I feel like the trajectory of the general plot arc fell a bit flat. Some of the repetitive parts of being held in solitary, for example, at the IBI, and the parts where Conn and Darcy are getting to know each other felt a bit repetitive as well. The ending felt way too neat for such a messy, wonderfully tension-filled conflict that was the war between humans/IBI vs the Shades – it just wrapped up way too nicely, too cleanly. I wanted a little more of the killing of the darlings, if you know what I mean. While Darcy definitely suffered the most, we didn’t see too many instances of the other Shades bleeding (either emotionally or literally) over their causes – just very oblique references to previous conflicts with humans that were never really explained beyond their simple mentioning (aside from the Great Fire – which was developed really well). I feel like for the middle transitioning into the end alone, there needed to be a bit more editing, and hopefully by publication it will have. If not, that’s okay – that’s me being incredibly picky.

Otherwise, I really loved this world, and I was sad to leave it. I’m hoping for a prequel on the Great Fire, but I do think that even though the ending was too neat, it was still a pretty solid ending, and things feel finished. But a prequel? I would really LOVE that, especially if it builds more on the main conflict of the book – that of the Great Fire and how it affected both the humans and Shades. Think about it, Rutkoski. Imagine the possibilities! I’m drooling over it just thinking about it. There were a few moments where I went “wait, why are you falling for him if he was going to torture you?” but I eventually eased into the romance between Darcy and Conn because, due to his character arc, we did see a significant change in his character traits and it made him a little less of an ass.

Final verdict? If you’re tired of the same old in the paranormal/paranormal romance arena(s), DEFINITELY give “The Shadow Society” a try. It’s fresh, it’s new, and I want more. “The Shadow Society” is out now from Macmillan in North America, so be sure to check it out! It’s definitely a great fall read.

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One thought on “Review: “The Shadow Society” by Marie Rutkoski

  1. Pingback: usagi’s challenges for 2012! | birth of a new witch.

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