Review: Shadowlands (Shadowlands #1) by Kate Brian

Rating: ** / 2 out of 5
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Mystery
Published January 8, 2013 by Hyperion


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?

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Yup. I admit it. I picked up Shadow Lands thinking it will be an awesome YA thriller. For weeks now, I’ve been craving for a book that incorporates Taken (starring Liam Neeson) elements, because damn, psychological thrillers are just so much fun, you know? I wanted something that was capable of gripping my heart at its throat, a book that could leave me in so much suspense and action, and I absolutely hoped that Shadow Lands would be the answer to that longing. If you’re in the same shoes I had back then, let me tell you this now – don’t let the synopsis fool you. This book was a disappointment, and I’ll tell you why.

Psychological Thriller? Um.

I’ll give credit where credit is due – Shadowlands had a pretty awesome and mean start that will get you certainly pumped up with excitement. Here we have a serial killer who takes on many identities to get closer to his victims, an uncanny ability of his that allowed him to get away from the authorities such as the FBI for at least a decade. Finally, at the opening chapter, he decided to finally reveal his true colors and take his kill, Rory becoming his 15th victim. Having luck at her side, she was able to escape and call for help, and consequently got her and her family into a witness protection program courtesy of the FBI to a new town somewhere out there.

It could’ve been good. I tell you, it could’ve been good, but it fell short really fast and really hard. Reiterating what Wendy Darling said in her review, the plot “…quickly devolves into a cable movie of the week thriller with flat characters and an uninspired storyline…” I think I became disappointed mainly because I wanted a real thriller in a contemporary setting, but instead we get thrown into an all new, weird town in the middle of nowhere with obviously supernatural elements. The reader gets the feeling that everything is going a little too well, and that there must be something fishy about this place, that something just isn’t right. There is something off about the place, and of course the mystery is revealed at the very end (literally). But the thing is, in these scenarios, you’re supposed to keep the reader guessing – you’re supposed to keep them hanging, damnit. This is where the “mystery” ends, I guess, because everything is just so damn obvious from the get-go. I won’t say what they were, but the author left several clues behind, which were clever I admit, but didn’t have any discreetness of any kind to make the huge ending a surprise. Sure, I got a WTF moment at the end, but it was more of an exclamation of annoyance than of awe.

I also thought there were too many scenes and situations that were put there just for the heck of it and served no purpose at all, making it feel like the plot was just dragging in an attempt to prolong the “suspense”… And you know what sucks more? The plot could’ve been wrapped up in one book. But no. We get this ridiculous, dragging premise, with obvious clues all over the place, a bizarre ending… and… and there’s supposed to be more, but why there’s supposed to be more does not make sense at all. I think there would have been more impact if the story ended right there and then after the big revelation. Certainly, there are still lingering questions, but right now in the state I’m in, I don’t think I want to be bothered to know the answers to those.

“I’m not beautiful but all the hot guys like me”

OK, so Rory considers herself inferior looks-wise compared to her gorgeous sister, Darcy. She’s a “nerdy science geek”, wears a t-shirt flaunting Einstein’s theory of relativity, and has pretty much low self-esteem. But not only did she get to attract her sister’s handsome boyfriend, Christopher, but every boy she met in her new town kept on glancing at her, too. While I’m okay with all the supernatural shiz going on, I find myself uneasy with this. I couldn’t buy it, and sometimes I get frustrated whenever she reminded herself that she wasn’t as pretty as Darcy or she that she was just a nerdy geek, so how could they like her?!

Ugh. Whatever.

…and etc.

There were many illogical stuff going on in this book. First of all, if you’re going to be under a Witness Protection Program, shouldn’t the FBI be more meticulous and careful in transporting you to somewhere else? They were portrayed very poorly here, and made them look like a bunch of incompetent nincompoops. Most characters were very 2-dimensional as well, and lacked character depth. The sister is a gorgeous senior who loves partying, and fuck you if you keep her from her parties. She is the gorgeous one, the guys go ga-ga for, and it’s simply unacceptable that her sister is getting all the attention from the hot guys. Like, seriously, right?!

Uh-huh.

Overall, this was a pretty frustrating and bizarre book. I get what the author is trying to do here, and in some ways, it worked… but the opposite thing happened to me, and right now, I’m more annoyed than anything else and don’t want to be bothered with the succeeding books anymore. If what I said don’t bother you, you may want to read this, but please, read with caution.

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Faye

Faye

A 21 years old Filipina who loves books, games, languages, and most especially, food. Secretly wishes to be an astronaut so she can explore the stars. Has a love-hate relationship with Philippine politics. To get in her good graces, offer her Foie Gras, Or shrimp. Or a JRPG. A YA sci-fi book works, too. You can follow her on twitter here: @kawaiileena

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  1. says

    I actually listed this as TBR way back in August, but I have definitely changed my mind about it since. Your review isn’t the first negative review I’ve read, and I really appreciate your honesty, because it saves me from a book with characters that sound INCREDIBLY frustrating. Thanks for your review, Faye :)