Rummanah Aasi
  Shadowlands is a book that has been greatly anticipated once the cover and description were revealed by the publishers. After seeing it on a few blogger's radar, I, myself, grew curious and requested an advanced copy from the publishers via Netgalley. Please note that this review is based on the review copy.

Description (from Goodreads): Rory Miller had one chance to fight back and she took it. Rory survived… and the serial killer who attacked her escaped. Now that the infamous Steven Nell is on the loose, Rory must enter the witness protection with her father and sister, Darcy, leaving their friends and family without so much as a goodbye.
   Starting over in a new town with only each other is unimaginable for Rory and Darcy. They were inseparable as children, but now they can barely stand each other. As the sisters settle in to Juniper Landing, a picturesque vacation island, it seems like their new home may be just the fresh start they need. They fall in with a group of beautiful, carefree teens and spend their days surfing, partying on the beach, and hiking into endless sunsets. But just as they’re starting to feel safe again, one of their new friends goes missing. Is it a coincidence? Or is the nightmare beginning all over again?

Review: Shadowlands is an uneven mixture of teen soap opera, thriller/mystery with a "surprise twist" that should have been a shocker but instead of leaving you with a reaction of "Oh my god. What just happened?!"to "Okay. I'd like to get the hours that I spend reading this book back."
  As we open the book, our heroine is running through the woods from her attacker. Our adrenaline and fear are spiked and we breathe a sigh of relief when she finds help. We quickly learn that her name is Rory and the person chasing her is an actual serial killer that has not only been posing as Rory's math teacher and has been spying on her for months and planning his attack. The FBI assures her they will catch him, but months have passed to no avail. In the meantime, she and her family are given new identities and sent to a secret location. They arrive in Juniper Landing, an idyllic vacation island, seemingly without incident, though Rory is troubled by nightmares of the killer murdering them on the road. We are shown over and over again with dark images that something is not right with this island. Everyone is too pretty and parties like they have no care in the world. Rory senses something is wrong because people keep disappearing, and while she is sure the killer is responsible, everyone else seems suspiciously unconcerned and oblivious.
  Though I had zero expectations for the book, I was quickly drawn into the first hundred pages or so.
The author builds a strong sense of menace and the dual narrative from the serial killer himself and Rory was initially engaging, this structure loses consistency because it is dropped in the second half of the book and I wish it wasn't because that was the book's biggest strength. The characters are all stereotypical caricatures and very hard to tell them apart. For instance Rory is your typical mousy (must they always be portrayed as being a brunette?), dull, and people pleasing teen. Her sister, Darcy, is your superficial, mean girl who might under all that plastic exterior might have a tiny slither of humanity. There is a vague hint of romance in the book but it goes no where. There are so many plot improbabilities, such as the stunning ineptitude of the FBI, and plot holes that you can make a game out of picking them all out. The abrupt ending leaves most of the interesting questions unanswered, perhaps saving it for the sequel that I will not bother wasting my time to read it. I honestly can't recommend this book. If you are looking for a really good YA thriller, please look elsewhere.

Rating: 1 star

Words of Caution: The book contains language, disturbing images, and scenes of underage drinking. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like YA thrillers try: I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga, the Body Finder series by Kimberly Derting, Reality Check by Peter Abrahams, Blood on My Hands by Todd Strasser
9 Responses
  1. Pretty much agree with you on this one. Too implausible (the FBI really were TOO stupid.) And, the ending did NOT satisfy at all. Too bad....

  2. Jenny Says:

    We're opinion opposites this week Rummanah! I actually really enjoyed this book right up till the end. The end irritated me just because it left me with a monster list of questions that I'm likely to forget by the time the second book rolls around. I do agree with you on the ineptitude of the FBI, but I can't help but wonder if part of that is linked back in with the revelation at the end? I guess I'll just have to wait and see. As always though, I enjoyed reading your thoughts!!!

  3. Oh no! It's a shame this was so disappointing for you, especially after being drawn in at first. I've heard mixed things, but I don't think I'm curious enough to want to buy a copy now. Great review, Rummanah!

  4. I don't think I have ever seen you give a one star rating, this one must be that bad. I know everyone was buzzing over the cover and such, but I am really not interested in it and your review confirms it, I won't be reading this. No plot holes for me, thanks!

  5. Lauren Says:

    I've been hearing some of the same complaints you have about this book in other reviews, and I think the twist and the plot holes would drive me bonkers. I'm going to skip it now. I know I'm going to be frustrated, and there is nothing worse than that feeling you described when all you want is to get those hours of your life back. Thanks so much for your honesty and for saving me from a disappointing read. Wonderful review! :-)

    And I loved I Hunt Killers, so I clearly need to check you your other recs here too instead of Shadowlands. Thanks!

  6. Candace Says:

    Oh yikes! I actually had only heard good things so I picked this up at ALA. Now I guess I may have slightly (okay, way) lower expectations. Sorry it was a disappointing read! I'm surprised you made it through it!

  7. "Instead of leaving you with a reaction of "Oh my god. What just happened?!"to "Okay. I'd like to get the hours that I spend reading this book back." Lol!

    I was bummed out that I was rejected for this one, but now I'm not :) Stereotypical characters, vague romance, plot holes ... just no.

    Isn't it weird that authors tend to portray popular girls as blonde and the quiet ones as brunettes?

  8. Small Review Says:

    Sorry you didn't like it! While I didn't dislike it as much as you, I do agree with everything you said. "Underwhelming" pretty much sums up my feelings.

  9. I liked this one. Maybe it just hit me at the right time. I was seriously creeped out by the serial killer chapters and enjoyed trying to figure out what was going on with Juniper Landing. That last sentence through me completely for a loop.

    So sorry you didn't like it. And actually Rory is blond. The book cover is either portraying someone else or they got it wrong. The second page says "her blond hair lay in a thick braid down her back".


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