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Friday, October 26, 2012

I'll Take More Human Drama, Less Zombie Gore, If You Please (With a Giveaway!)

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

(Note:  While this review will not contain spoilers for Shadows, it may inadvertently spoil plot surprises from Ashes, its predecessor.  As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.)

Although Alex has lived in relative safety for the last few months, she knows she can't stay in Rule.  Sure, it's zombie-free, but there are other predators in the city.  And these animals are still in control of their brains—they know all too well how to manipulate teenage girls, to use them, to break them.  Alex can't let that happen to her.  She's already lost the people she loves most; she can't lose herself as well.  But outside the protected town are horrors she can barely fathom, let alone fight.  Captured by a sinister group of Changed, she waits ... to die.

Unbeknownst to Alex, Tom Eden is alive.  Still recovering from the near death experience that led to his separation from Alex, he's hiding out in Wisconsin.  Although he's being sheltered by good people, he knows he's not completely safe.  The Changed are always out there, as are the bounty hunters who roam the ruined country looking for able-bodied men to kidnap and sell to the highest bidder.  Trekking through the snow to Wisconsin, where Tom believes Alex is still living in Rule, will not be an easy journey.  But it's one he has to take.  He can't live without Alex.

As Tom and Alex fight their individual battles for survival, they inch closer and closer to each other.  But in a world like theirs, where death lurks around every corner, there's little chance the two will ever meet again.  Especially when fighting to stay alive seems to be an exercise in futility.  Still, Tom trudges on.  Still, Alex fights.  Still, they hope—for a better life, for a better world and, however impossible it seems, for each other. 

So, the thing I loved most about Ashes, the first book in Ilsa J. Bick's YA zombie trilogy, is that it wasn't really about the zombies.  They were present, of course, but the blood and guts took a backstage to the human drama.  In Shadows?  Not so much.  This time, it's more about the gore.  Which got old.  And nauseating.  Really nauseating.  The story's exciting— it's an edge-of-your-seat, can't-breathe-'til-you-finish, thrill-a-minute horror extravaganza.  And because Bick wrote it, the book's so compelling that you can't stop yourself from reading it even though it's making you physically ill.  My overall feelings on this one, though?  It kept me totally absorbed, but I was a tad disappointed.  I wanted more humanity, less zombie action.  Still, I enjoy this series and I can't wait to see how it all ends up.  I really can't, because Bick always surprises me.  Even if it's with the kind of gore that makes me throw up in my mouth—and swallow it down because I don't want to waste time throwing up when I need to be turning pages to find out what's going to happen next.  Yeah, it's totally like that.    

(Readalikes:  Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick; also other zombie novels like The Passage by Justin Cronin; The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan; Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry; The Enemy by Charles Higson; etc.)

Grade:  B-

If this were a movie, it would be rated:  R for language (a few F-bombs as well as milder invectives), violence/gore, and sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I received two finished copies of Shadows from the generous folks at Egmont USA.  Thank you!


Giveaway time!  The very generous people at Egmont USA have given me an extra copy of Shadows to give away to one of you.  It's a brand new, hardcover zombie book, just in time for Halloween.  What's not to love?  What do you have to do to win it?  How about this:  Leave me a comment telling me about the best Halloween costume you ever wore.  Please be sure to leave an email address along with your answer.  As always, I'll give you extra entries for spreading the word about the giveaway (1 extra entry per method of word-spreading).  I'll choose a winner on October 31st.  Giveaway is open to readers with U.S. and Canadian addresses only.  Good luck!


  1. My best halloween costume would HANDS DOWN be when i was asked to help with the st. George rec center halloween hoopla. I was the 'resident gypsy' and read fortunes to all the kids that stopped by. Super long fake eyelashes, finger nails, and the most make up i could cake on my face, it was fun not being me for a few hours. (Email:

    1. Awesome! I can totally picture you doing the whole gypsy thing :)

  2. I have a copy waiting for me, so don't enter me, but I totally wanted to say that it's good to know this one induces vomiting. I mean, not a good thing, but at least I'll know to have a bucket handy. Ugh. I might have to put it off for a while.

    1. Yeah, this one definitely gets graphic with the gore. I liked ASHES so much, partly because it was more about the humans than the zombies -- SHADOWS is much more about the zombies. Or, more specifically, what the zombies to do the humans. And what the humans to do the humans. So, yeah, gory.

  3. Hmmm, I might actually enjoy this one. I sometimes get a little sick of too much drama. ;) More action please.

    1. I feel that way sometimes, too, and this one was still good, just not as good as the first book in the series. IMHO, anyway.

  4. When I was a pre-teen I went as a gypsy & this boy was dressed like he could be my partner but he was very tiny compared to me. We both won as a couple but it was a pretty funny pair!


    1. Ha! I'm sure you two were a sight to see :)

  5. Well Susan, I think I'll pass on this one. The last gore-fest I read (Angelfall by Susan Ee) just about did me in. Which was sad, because the story and characters were so engaging.
    Hey, stop by my blog! The new design looks fabulous and I'm doing a giveaway to celebrate 100 followers!
    Sarah's YA Blog

    1. Yeah, I'm not a huge fan of gore. A little bit doesn't bother me too much, but this one had A LOT. You have to expect that from zombie books, though.

      Congrats on 100 Followers! I have to get off the computer and get busy right now, but I'll stop by your blog later, okay?

  6. My favorite Halloween costume was the year I went as a gypsy. I got to wear my Grandmother's square dancing dress--she died when my mother was a child, and it felt like I got to know a bit of her. My mom helped me dress it up into a gypsie outfit.

    1. How awesome is that? Love your answer :)

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  8. Hi, I was directed here from Ilsa's Twitter feed. Good review! All the talk of blood and gore just makes me want to read it that much more. :)

    My best costume was the year I went as a Construction Site. I "borrowed" a bunch of building materials (caution tape, that orange plastic fence stuff, foam underlayment) from a nearby site and made a ballgown out of it.

    1. LOL - I'm glad SOMEONE's excited about all the gore :)

      And, wow, what a creative costume idea. Sounds like you enjoy yourself some Halloween fun!

  9. My favorite costume was probably when I went as a bat in elementary school. My mom made the entire costume, including the wings and the hat with ears! I thought I was so cool.

    shelver506 at gmail dot com

  10. The best costume I had growing up was a Ghostbusters costume my Dad help me make. He got me a pair of basic coveralls and together we spray-painted a soap box black to use as a back pack and used some duct tubing to come out of the "power pack" to the gun/wand at the front. It wasn't the greatest costume but it was one that I was the most proud of.

    I have to get back reading as your blog keeps adding to my tbr pile faster than I am emptying it!

    phansenp at

    1. You gotta love Ghostbusters costumes. My 3 yo would die for one of those -- she's been watching the movie all month. Thank goodness she doesn't get all the raunchy stuff and she thinks the movie's silly, not scary. I should probably cut her off before someone sends CPS to my door ...

  11. I went as a fridge when I was in grade 8. It was the most unsexy, logistically annoying costume I could have ever dreamt up. I basically took a large box, cut arm holes in it, a freezer door to see out of, and a main door that opened to glued on fruit and food packages.

    I could barely walk in it, I got knocked over and had to be helped up, I could barely see, people kept slamming into it and scaring me .. It was hilariously awful. Awful at the time, hilarious now. Oh, and people kept asking me if I was an outhouse.

    1. LOL. If I was picking a winner based on answers to the costume question, I probably would have picked this one. Gave me a good chuckle. Happy Halloween!


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