If you've seen my review of Ashes you'll know that I was mega-excited about Shadows, I'd had it on preorder for some time and was counting down the days (yes I REALLY am that sad).
Its rare that a book draws you in so much, and leaves you wanting to know whats going to happen next. So yes, very excited about Shadows.
But you'll notice that this review is coming two months after its release, and as I read 3 books a week, it might seem strange that it took so long to finish.
****SPOILER ALERT (1) If you've not read Ashes, please avoid the rest of this review - I will be referring to key events in book 1 that might spoil it for you*****
**SPOILER ALERT (2) - I don't put much in terms of spoilers, but there are a few names that might give you some clues as to whats going on - don't read on if you don't want to know!***
The answer to that is simple - its just not as good as ashes. In Ashes the reader is focussed on Alex, whilst not narrated by her, your point of view is hers. You feel her ups and downs, and you are left wondering what's happened to Ellie, Tom and Mina. You wonder what is happening with her smell and the tumour - is it gone, did it save her, prevent her from changing? You know as much or as little as Alex does.
This POV style means you don't know whats going on behind those closed doors in Rule, you don't know who to trust (although Jess was always dodgy in my book!)
Shadows however tells the story from four or five different points of view - Alex, Tom (Yes he's still alive, but you never doubted that did you?!), Chris, Peter and Lena. It gets very confusing, as something happens the chapters will flip to another character and it often takes a few seconds to work out where you are and who you are with now. Even a simple name at the top of each chapter would have helped, although I'd of been tempted to split the book into 5 - telling each story in one complete go, and leaving the reader in the dark as to where the others fit in until they've read all five. Bick does once again deliver on this clever, plot twisting and brings the characters so close and then away again.
Shadows picks up right where Ashes left off - with Alex in the woods outside rule, surrounded by Changed (or chuckies as they are called in this book), this was probably one of the best written action sequences in the book - you were there with Alex and it doesn't go the way you expect it to.
Where book one was about survival and figuring out whats been going on, book two (whilst still about these themes to a certain degree) was centred around getting back together - be that chris and Alex, Alex and Tom etc, a nice change from the last book, it added a new dimension.
I really can't tell you anymore without completely spoiling the story, the twists, action and heartbreak that made Ashes so successful are all there, by the bucket load. Shadows goes places I'd never thought of, and throws curve balls at you from every direction. The only complaint I have is that nothing seems to get resolved, you are left at the end no more satisfied than at the end of ashes, and you have a dozen more questions about who to trust, who's alive, who's not etc.
Shadows is by no means a bad book, its excellent and as a stand alone piece it'd be a 4 or possibly a 4.5 star work. But its not a stand alone book, its part of a set and it just doesn't match up to Ashes, it doesn't flow as well (see the confusing narrative bit above) and because of that you are less invested in some of the characters.
A solid 3.5 stars from me, I'm hoping book three picks it back up again