Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready

A review of Shade

I blew through this book! The fast (if somewhat predictable) plot, interesting mythology, and spunky characters ensure that I’ll be reading the next book in this series.

Aura Salvatore is just your average Post-Shift high school student. She wears red so the ghosts don’t bother her during the day, changes to something professional to complete her duties as a ghost-to-lawyer translator, and then throws on her favorite vintage punk band tee when she heads to her boyfriend Logan’s house. But when Logan dies on the day of his seventeenth birthday, Aura’s whole life turns upside down. Because now that she can see and talk to ghosts, she can still see and talk to Logan. So she continues to date the love her life, unable to let go of the boy she grew up with and the young man she gave her heart to.

But the land of the living is calling her. A Scottish exchange student, Zachary Moore of the brilliant green eyes and sexy burr, becomes her research partner. But he also becomes her friend. He listens when she wants to talk, changes subjects when she doesn’t, and gives Aura the time she needs to make up her own mind about her relationship with Logan. Time to come to terms with the fact that she’s lost him forever.

And Zach’s arrival in her life also brings forth a mystery. Zach was the very last baby born before the Shift…and Aura was the very first baby born after it. There’s something special about them, and Aura is determined to find out what.

The plot has all the obvious markers of a YA book: sudden tragedy that throws the protagonist’s life into chaos, a love triangle, and a giant mystery that drives the plot for the entire series.

My favorite part, however, is the intricate world of the ghosts and the living. On December 21 some sixteen years ago, the world Shifted. Every child born after the Shift had the ability to see ghosts. The glowing, violet imprints of deceased humans roamed the places they had visited in life, looking for closure, and for somebody to talk to. Ghosts can’t see each other, and they can’t stray from those locations they visited in life. They hate the color read, and can’t bear to be around obsidian. They pass once they feel at peace with their death, continue to roam their favorite haunts if they’re not ready, or turn Shade if they’ve become overwhelmed with bitterness and anger. The next books, as far as I can tell, are going to focus on the why of the Shift, and Aura and Zachary’s involvement in it.

And the characters themselves really bring the story alive.

Aura is smart, beautiful, and independent. But she’s a great YA protag because she’s so real, and has such real issues to deal with throughout the book. She’s not perfect, she blames herself for Logan’s death, for having feelings for Zach even though Logan’s still around. It’s these conflicts that teen girls deal with every day that make Aura so likeable. She’s not whiny, she’s certainly not a saint, and she’s just bitchy enough to make you smile.

Zachary is a closed book, a mystery that he’s not ready to share with anybody. He’s social and friendly, but never really gets close to anybody. He’s patient, biding his time until Aura is ready to know more about him, and not feel guilty about it. And he’s just the right amount of flirty and sincere that makes your knees weak and your heart race.

Logan is…not as likeable. He’s a diva, selfish…and somehow full of life even though he’s dead. His dreams of being the lead singer in  big-time Irish punk band disappeared when he mixed cocaine with a high blood-alcohol content. But instead of blaming the people who gave him the drugs and alcohol, he owns up to his own stupidity. He knows a series of his own choices lead up to his death, and can see how his death is destroying the people he loved most.

Articles are popping up all over the place about how ghosts are the next big thing in YA literature. If so, Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready should definitely be in your TBR pile.

More YA literature featuring ghosts:

The Poisoned House

Early To Death, Early To Rise

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