When I received this book as an ARC I was thrilled and nearly out of my mind with joy. I totally adored the first book, Black & White and I couldn't wait to read this one. I completely lost the memory of any other books and jumped head first into the world of superheroes and supervillians again
I will try to keep this review spoiler free but it will probably contain a few spoilers from book one, so stop reading if you haven't read that one. You should go to a bookstore and redeem this mistake. *wink*
The first thing I really loved about this book is the, for lack of a better word, organization. You've heard me bitch about some books with multiple POVs and now I tell you that's the thing I adored in this book. Each chapter has the name of the hero it's about at the start and I never felt lost. Again we also have the NOW and THEN parts and I was so happy to get a glimpse at Arclights and Nights background. We also get a new part in Shades of Gray: between the NOW and THEN parts are interludes. I won't tell you anything about them just that OMG I hope we get more about them. Cryptic much? I know.
The NOW chapters are all about Jet and Iridium again. We see what happens after the Fall of Night and the destruction of the Corp Co commlinks system. The superheroes are free, more or less, and the reaction to this varies extremely. Jet and a few fellow heroes try to get the mess sorted out but they are just not enough to go against the uprising rabids. This is Jet's chance to show them what she's really made of. I liked Jet more in this book. I can't even say why, but she didn't seem as pitiful in this book. I learned to understand her more and I really wanted everything to work out for her.
I still adore Iridium with her witty and bitching comments. She made me laugh so much. I was happy to see that at least some good thing happen to her too.
The THEN chapters are centered around the life of Jet's and Iridium's parents and how life as a superhero was at that time. We see how their relationships develop and how it all became so messy. I have to admit, at some points I was screaming and raving at the characters. I told them: No, don't do that and OMG why would you do that? but unfortunately they ignored me. I have to work on my changing the past skills. I enjoyed the unique voices of Vixen, Luster (that's Arclight's original superhero name), Blackout, Angelica and Night. The resemblance between children and parents was wonderfully handled. I got attached to these characters really fast and it pained me so much more to see what happens to them.
The plot in this novel is fast paced and will keep you at the edge of your seat. It makes you want to strangle the authors when they switch to THEN although you just have to know what happens next in the NOW parts but after reading the unwanted part you want to know what happens there. You will feel like you have a little shadow power with voices in your head, too. One surprising thing: I would have never thought that this book would make me cry, but it did. It is heart wrenching from time to time.
I noticed one thing in Shade of Gray that confused me a bit. The names of all the heroes. At times I was totally sure that this one hero is a man cuz the name is a male one and then bang it's a woman. Or is Kai a female name? In Germany, only boys are called that.
All in all Shade of Gray is an excellent hero story with wonderful characters and a story that will break your heart. Fast paced from the start, it will never let your attention shift to something else. Ms. Kittredge & Ms. Kessler really have super writing powers. Recommended to everyone who at least still remembers his or her love for superheroes.