Thursday, April 4, 2013

Review: The Shadow Girl


The Shadow GirlAuthor: Jennifer Archer
Release date: April 9th 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Paperback, 336 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository

Sometimes I forget for an hour or two that she's with me. Sometimes I convince myself that she was only a dream. Or that I'm crazy.
For as long as Lily Winston can remember, she has never been alone. Iris, a shadowy figure who mimics Lily's movements and whispers in her ear, is with her always—but invisible to the rest of the world. Iris is Lily's secret.
But when Lily's father is killed in a tragic accident, his cryptic final words suggest that he and Lily's mother have been keeping secrets of their own. Suddenly, Iris begins pushing Lily more than ever, possessing her thoughts and urging her to put together the pieces of a strange puzzle her father left behind. As she searches for answers, Lily finds herself drawn to Ty Collier, a mysterious new boy in town. Together, Lily and Ty must untangle a web of deception to discover the truth about her family, Iris . . . and Lily's own identity.

My grandmother makes the best bean stew. (I realize this is an unusual review opener, but bear with me just a little while longer.) Yes, my grandmother’s bean stew is quite the celebrity in my family. I don’t know how she does it, although it’s not like she’s keeping it a secret… quite the opposite, in fact. She shared her recipe and showed me how it’s done many, many times. But although I’m a pretty decent cook (if I do say so myself), I always end up with something else entirely. A pretty good bean stew, yes, but the magic is simply not there. In truth, if you give five cooks the exact same ingredients, they’ll each come up with a different meal, and no more than one, if that, will be truly unforgettable.

These days, books aren’t all that different, really. No matter how many times a certain recipe is used and reused, the end result is never the same. Ten authors can use all the same tropes, and they’ll each end up with a different story. Eight out of ten resulting books won’t be worth your time, one will be moderately enjoyable, and one will shine like a comet. There’s always an author capable of making even the most (ab)used tropes work.

Jennifer Archer is one of those authors. On the surface, The Shadow Girl is really and truly a cliché fest. A recently deceased parent. A best friend in love with the heroine. A mysterious new boy in town. An agonizing (read: annoying) love triangle. A secret waiting to be revealed. I see you all waving your heads in disgust, but I promise you, aside from the horrible and unnecessary love triangle, The Shadow Girl is a great and exciting read.

I pride myself on the fact that I can guess pretty much everything these days. (Sometimes I curse myself for it, too.) But with The Shadow Girl, I made all the wrong assumptions. Despite all the foreshadowing, my guess was nowhere near the truth. Honestly, I was lucky to go into this book knowing next to nothing about it. Everything is a spoiler with The Shadow Girl, even mentioning the genre it belongs to. I strongly recommend avoiding anything even remotely spoiler-ish.

This whole experience would have been much better without the love triangle. Even I, a well known hater of divided hearts, have to admit that there are love triangles that work. However, Jennifer Archer wrote hers almost as an afterthought, a painfully predictable and tragically unnecessary thing. Let’s not kid ourselves, Lily’s best friend Wyatt never really stood a chance. Their sudden forced attraction was explained with their fear of separation, of going to college and losing each other, but while that certainly makes sense, it should have stopped the second Ty Collier showed up. It was always clear who Lily would choose, which made her constant wavering all the more aggravating.

But that is one flaw in an otherwise excellent book. Lily’s relationship with her other, Iris, was a true delight to read. This concept is perhaps not the most original, but as I wrote earlier, Archer made the best of it. Lily also struggled with her mother’s strange behavior, especially after her father died, and as the story progressed, their relationship increased in complexity, and as frustrating as it was at times, it was an essential part of the book.

I’d hate to spoil even the smallest thing for you guys, so I’ll stop here. I’d recommend downloading a sample to see if it works for you like it did for me. The first 20% should make it clear enough.


30 comments:

  1. Ooh I've definitely been curious about this one! I actually highly enjoyed our review-opener, it caught my attention immediately (and made me a bit hungry). I know nothing about this book, for which I am glad for because after reading your review, I'd like to give this one a try. Aside from that annoying-sounding love triangle, I want to see how Archer makes all of the cliche elements exciting and page-turning. Hopefully I can pick it up soon! Thanks for the awesome review, Maja!

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  2. This book goes on and off from my radar. I haven't read the blurb and I have no idea about the genre so I guess I should give it a try. I agree with you about ten different stories coming out from the same idea..Although I appreciate when something is new and refreshing. Great review Maja :)

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  3. I'm glad Shadow Girl was able to go beyond it's clichedness and provide a decent read. Sometimes its so hard to find a book with a concept that has already been done before and for it to deliver something different. Despite it's similarities with a lot of books and its annoying love triangle I think I may still get a sample of this book. Lovely review hun! :)

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  4. That's the thing about love triangles. It's nearly always obvious who the main character will 'choose', which makes the constant wavering between love interests incredibly tedious for the reader. I won't lie, I hate that there is a triangle in this book (it sounds pretty good otherwise), but you have me strangely curious about this one now. Especially after the mention of all the cliches... Knowing me, I'll probably give in. I'm glad you liked this overall, Maja!

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  5. Ooo I haven't heard of this yet but your review (even with the horrible love triangle) definitely has me intrigued now. It isn't often that an author can create something unique from the same ole' same ole'.
    Awesome, well written review. I am seriously going to check this one out on Amazon now.

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  6. I'm not fond of forced love triangles, they just don't make any sense to me another than filling pages or moving plot forward. I'm glad this tried and for the most part succeeded in moving beyond the cliches and tropes we know so well. I'm curious about the genre so I think I'm going to take your advice and download a sample.

    p.s. I'm really curious about your take on Crossed. Looking forward to reading your review!

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  7. LOL I was like "ok, where is this bean stew story going?!?!" But nicely done Maja, nicely done *claps* Very true indeed.

    I am so happy to hear that this one managed to take you by surprise, I am also one who can usually see everything coming so I am super curious about this now to see if it will do the same for me. It sounds really good and I'm happy that it isn't just a cliche but is an awesome story. Fabulous review!

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  8. I've never heard of this book before, but it you had not have mentioned a love triangle, I would have been all gungho to it out! lol I was like Bean Stew? But I saw your point! That was an awesome analogy and an awesome review!

    Janina @ Synchronized Reading

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  9. I love, love, love that Jennifer was able to take a book full of familiar YA plot devices and cliches and make it something highly enjoyable:) The love triangle of course makes me shake my head, but aside from that this book sounds awesome. I love that you made all the wrong assumptions too, there's nothing more fun for me than thinking I'm right about something only for the author to be all "you're not even close." WIN:) Gorgeous review as usual!

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  10. love the way you opened up the review, it makes sense , there are many books that are alike and while some capture the magic and the spark of recycling the same thing over and over again, other fall flat. There comes a time I think when rehashing the same thing over and over again can also grow very old and boring. But I am glad you liked this book, despite the awful triangle.

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  11. Ooh I've been curious about this book! I do feel like the description feels terribly familiar, but you're right, the dna for most stories these days isn't that original, it's how the author uses it that matters. I'm glad to hear Jennifer managed to make this plot her own, and even surprise you. It's a shame about the love triangle though! I'm so sick of half-baked LT's just getting tacked on. It does more harm than good. In spite of the LT, I'm definitely downloading a sample and giving it a try, when before I would probably have just skipped. Excellent review!

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  12. Wonderful review..and ooh I know exactly what you mean about Grandma's recipe..I have followed my own grandmother's directions and while mine is good..its missing a little of her magic.

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  13. Hm. I'm really interested in this one-- and I'm glad that it shines, LOL! I love the story about the bean stew. It made terrific sense, LOL. I'm sorry that the love triangle didn't work for you, though. I hate when it isn't thought out. I'll have to give this a shot, though! Fab review, Maja! (:

    Loves,
    Megan@The Book Babe

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  14. Now I want to try the bean stew. I liked the way you started this review with all the talk about cooking and recipes. Brilliant analogy. I am with you, I get tired of predictable cliched books, but if this author made it different than it is worth checking out, despite the painful love triangle. I am starting Bruised tonight and I have Sarah on the blog next week thanks to you. Hmm how are you doing with Crossed?

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    1. I'm not that far in, but so far, I'm really liking it. I think its mostly due to the audio, to be honest. Sometimes it makes a world of difference.

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  15. LOVE the bean stew analogy. So perfect and so true. I don't mind often that it has to be brilly, as long as it is entertaining, but I LOVE it when it does stand out. Oh and you are right, only some have that "magic" way of using those same ingredients. Just with that analogy alone you had me wanting it. Despite the frustrations (which I think I would become frustrated with it too), I do still want to see how I would read it and see if it surprised me. Hm... perhaps that is the icing on the cake. Oh wait... mixing metaphors too much? ;) Sorry, silly today. :D

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  16. Awesome review! I LOVE how you mentioned your grandmother's bean stew to compare the book, it has made me very intrigued to read the book. The shadow sounds like an idea for a story a few days ago. Like you said, I'll download a sample to see if it suits me. Thanks for posting, Maja :)

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  17. Huh, I'm a little surprised since most readers seemed to dislike this one, but I wonder now if that was more because of the love triangle and less because of the actual novel itself. After being disappointed by CP2, I know I won't be reading any other love triangles, but I'm glad this book got some other things right. Also, LOVE that analogy! You always have the best introductions, you know? I think everyone else - me included - has some standard phrases we return to, but you're just brimming to creativity. LOVE this review! :)

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  18. THat's a great analogy! I'm sad that the love triangle was thrown in as an afterthought. As I'm not a fan of the dreaded triangle either, that makes me a bit less excited to read this, even though I really enjoyed Archer's THROUGH HER EYES.

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  19. When I read the blurb, I thought What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang. I liked that book so much that I wasn't sure I could fairly judge a book that sounded fairly similar, but then I read your review. All the talk of cliches was concerning, but I like the idea of not being able to guess the ending. It's hard to find a book that can trip me up. Though the love triangle worries me. I'll put this book on my TBR list. Great review :)

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  20. Ooo, this is a new one to me, but sounds like a great read. There is a lot of great sounding happenings and twists here.

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  21. Your review was very helpful! I have this one here and hope to read it soon. I have seen one other review which said it was very twisty and maybe gave me really high expectations. Now knowing some of the things that it's possible I won't like may help in my enjoyment. I'm definitely looking forward to reading it!

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  22. Awesome review! I think it's funny how you opened this review (great analogy by the way) because I was pretty much thinking that it sounded like an overused premise just based on the summary. I'm so tired of hearing about books that all sound SO alike. I'm glad this one actually worked for the most part!

    -Lauren

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  23. Okay, I LOVE this review and that analogy. =) I hadn't really given this one much of a glance, but perhaps I shall now. It's so interesting when overused tropes can become fresh.

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  24. Some people just have a gift, either with cooking like your grandmother or like this writer who can take the overused and abused plot and make it something appetizing. I have this book but I wasn't planning on picking it up real soon. I'll have to re-think that decision. Amazing review Maja! I love it when we get a peek into your life. :)

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  25. Glad that she made this one shine even with the overused troupes (though they still work and I love to read them). I prob would dig the triangle because I am sucker for them. Great review and thanks for putting on my radar. Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog

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  26. I haven't read much about this, actually this is probably the first review I've read of this book and while all the typical aspects put me off, the fact that you found the book well done, makes me want to give it go, despite the annoying love triangle!

    Also, I'd like to try this bean stew ;)

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  27. It's too bad that the love triangle lowered your enjoyment of this one, Maja. But, I like that your guesses about this one turned out to be wrong. I haven't read any reviews for this one and so will see if it's possibly available at the library.

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  28. A very touchy and well written story about young immigrant women, in Sweden and elsewhere, without sentimentality but with depths that challenges complacency.
    top recommended Second Wave Recycling Recycle Cell Phone service

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  29. It was a great fast read. I couldn't tell what was going to happen right at first or which boy she was going to choose! Loved it!

    Mica
    Best Reviews for Westport Fishing Halibut

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