Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Shade's Children

Shade’s Children
By Garth Nix
Harper Collins, 1997. 310. Young Adult

Gold-Eye has lived his life on the run from Trackers, which can sent their prey from miles away; Myrmidons, beefy warriors who fight to the death; and Ferrets, which come out at night to drink the blood of unwary children. But Gold-Eye is also 15 years old, which is older than he ever expected to be. Ever since the Change, when every adult human on Earth disappeared, the world has been run by mysterious Overlords who raise children like cattle for the slaughter. When they reach the age of 14—their “Sad Birthday”—kids are shipped from dormitories to the Meat Factory where their bodies and brains are ripped apart to create inhuman monsters. So Gold-Eye is lucky, really, just to be alive. Lucky that his ability to see a few seconds into the future has kept him that way for so long.

After years on his own, barely surviving, Gold-Eye runs into more kids who have escaped the Dormitories, and these kids are doing more than just running and hiding—they’re fighting back. They have abilities too, from mind reading to telekinesis, and they’re taking their marching orders from a mysterious figure named Shade. Gold-Eye joins the team and accepts dangerous missions to gather intel about the Change, but it quickly becomes clear that in Shade’s single-minded war against the Overlords, his children’s lives are nothing but tools. To take down the Overlords and reverse the Change, though, isn’t it still worth it?

Though I generally find that post-apocalyptic YA is overdone, Garth Nix does get some credit for being one of the first. It was a compelling read, with fast-paced action and likeable characters. More impressive, it managed to provoke a bit of introspection, which is a seldom-achieved goal among post-apocalyptic lit. It punctuates the action with charts, diagrams, and snippets from Shade’s internal monologues that make you pause and consider the scenario through a moral lens. All together I enjoyed the book and would put it a step ahead of Hunger Games and other books in the genre. There is certainly some swearing and some open talk about sex (nothing graphic, of course), but as long as that’s not a problem I’d recommend this book for teen boys, especially those that enjoyed the Maze Runner series.


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