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Staff Review: Shadows

By Robin McKinley
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Review by Sarah Nagelbush, Adult Librarian

Robin McKinley's newest young adult title is a more urban fantasy than much of her other YA novels. Maggie, the teenage heroine of the novel lives in a world that's similar to our own, but just different enough to remind us that it's not exactly our world. For Maggie, everything in the world she knows revolves around science -- except that magic does exist. But in Maggie's world, science and magic cannot coexist and this is at the heart of Shadows.

Maggie and her little brother live with their mother. When her mother decides to remarry, Maggie immediately notices that something's wrong with her stepfather, Val. He has shadows, but unlike everyone else in her world, he has multiple shadows and for whatever reason, they scare Maggie so much she doesn't want to be around Val. Her relationship with her family begins to suffer and soon she begins to wonder if everything she knows is wrong.

McKinley's at her best here, once you dig through the anti-science the crowds the beginning of the story. McKinley's characters grow throughout the novel -- they are real, even though their world is not our world. McKinley can turn a character you thought you hated into someone you love easily -- but without you even noticing it happened. She takes a simple math textbook and brings it alive in ways you never thought possible. And, much to my surprise, McKinley manages to avoid the most common of YA tropes -- the love triangle.

Shadows is a fun book that is, in the end, a book about how science and magic can (and should) coexist in Maggie's world. It's about love and the importance of telling the truth. But it's also a story about the value of family and friends. And the shadows of the title? Well, I won't spoil you, but they turn out to be far more important than you'd think.

If you like McKinley's other books, you'll most likely enjoy Shadows. But if you're a fan of fantasy, especially YA urban fantasy, then you'll love Shadows. As someone who isn't a big fan of fantasy, it's almost as if Shadows was written for me. Aside from the very beginning of the novel (I promise it's worth the slog), Shadows is basically perfect.

Last modified on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 12:22

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