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Shadowboxer Paperback – 9 Oct 2014
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Tricia Sullivan writes intelligent, zesty and freewheeling novels that are so entertaining they're almost embarrassing. Seriously, when was the last time you read a really smart book that was also fun? --Patrick Ness, best selling author of The Knife of Never Letting Go
A genuinely kick-ass protagonist with personality. --Lauren Beukes, best selling author of The Shining Girsl
In this adrenaline-fueled supernatural adventure, a young woman channels her anger into fighting, only to risk losing everything due to her lack of control. Jade Barrera, 17, is a rising star in the mixed martial arts (MMA) circuit, but after she snaps and hurts the wrong person, she s sent to regain her focus by training in Thailand, where she's exposed to new ways of thinking and living. Unknowingly, Jade becomes embroiled in a deadly conspiracy involving drug smuggling and slavery when a girl capable of walking between worlds and a magic-touched investigative reporter enter her life. With a feral god watching over Jade and her newfound companions, Jade fights for her life inside the ring and out of it. SF author Sullivan (Lightborn) spins a kinetic, violent, and magical tale that makes excellent use of Jade's hard-edged voice. Sullivan brings to life the beauty of Thailand and the sweat and blood of the gym, infusing them with magic and danger. --Publisher's Weekly
About the Author
Tricia Sullivan was born in 1968 in New Jersey, USA and has been writing stories since the age of seven. She attended Music Program Zero at Bard College under the guidance of composer and philosopher Benjamin Boretz, receiving a B.A. in 1990. She also holds an M.A. in Special Education from Columbia University. She wrote her first novel, Lethe, while teaching secondary school in New York City, but by the time the book was published she had moved to London. Her science fiction novels include the Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning Dreaming In Smoke, Double Vision, Sound Mind, Someone to Watch Over Me, and the British Science Fiction and Arthur C. Clarke Award-nominated novels Lightborn and Maul. She also wrote an epic fantasy trilogy under the pseudonym Valery Leith. Her works have been translated into seven languages and praised by prominent critics. Tricia has a longstanding interest in martial arts, has herself trained for many years and now administers the mixed martial arts website of her partner, martial artist Steve Morris. Currently she is raising three children while writing and studying physics and mathematics full time with the Open University.
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This is an unusual YA novel, blending grinding fight action and the harsh life and attitude of cat-loving New Yorker Jade with the mystery of the Thai forest that straddles many worlds, where gods walk in the form of lions and snakes, and broken children’s souls are imprisoned. The idea of a wood between the worlds is not a new one, but the juxtaposition with Jade’s life, the visceral scenes in the ring, the streets of New York and the internal politics of the gym where she trains, is striking. Jade herself comes across initially as unlikable, all mouth and ‘tude, but it becomes clear pretty fast that she’s fighting not only her opponents, but a messy set of family circumstances. And anyone who would break a Hollywood martial arts stars nose over his cruelty to a stray cat immediately has my vote.
I felt a little more could have been made of the villain of the piece, Richard Fuller, a man bent on stealing children’s souls to gain immortality. I felt there was more to him – his web of connections, his scheming – that could have been revealed, and I would have liked him to be more fleshed out as he was an intriguing character, a chemist-gone-bad.
But Jade is the star of the show, smart and sassy with a deep core of vulnerability that warms the readers heart, and she takes us on a fun ride. Shadowboxer is well worth reading, so grab a ringside seat and hang on tight!
Whilst I did enjoy the book I did feel that in places the book was sadly lacking, firstly I loved Cake’s mother and felt that she should have had a bigger role rather than as a supporting cast member and was heavily underutilised considering the opinions of women within the Muay Thai world.
All round a solid enough book and I’ll be keeping a careful eye on Tricia’s future releases.