Book Review of The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski

Posted October 1, 2012 by Kara in Uncategorized / 20 Comments

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: October 16th, 2012
Pages: 416
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher.

Blurb: Darcy Jones doesn’t remember anything before the day she was abandoned as a child outside a Chicago firehouse. She has never really belonged anywhere—but she couldn’t have guessed that she comes from an alternate world where the Great Chicago Fire didn’t happen and deadly creatures called Shades terrorize the human population.

Memories begin to haunt Darcy when a new boy arrives at her high school, and he makes her feel both desire and desired in a way she hadn’t thought possible. But Conn’s interest in her is confusing. It doesn’t line up with the way he first looked at her.

As if she were his enemy.

When Conn betrays Darcy, she realizes that she can’t rely on anything—not herself, not the laws of nature, and certainly not him. Darcy decides to infiltrate the Shadow Society and uncover the Shades’ latest terrorist plot. What she finds out will change her world forever . . .

In this smart, compulsively readable novel, master storyteller Marie Rutkoski has crafted an utterly original world, characters you won’t soon forget, and a tale full of intrigue and suspense.

Review: Yeah, The Shadow Society is definitely not going to be a book that everyone loves. Personally, I enjoyed it. It was flawed and I can agree that many will give up on it (and be right to do so), but I really did find that it was worth my time. And the thing is, I almost DNFed it. But because I had DNFed the book before it, I decided to stick with it, and I’m actually really glad I did that. It has some problems, but in the end, it was a lot of fun and I found that it was a valuable way to spend my time.

There’s a bit too much set up for me. Getting to know Darcy and the other characters is a little painful because the opening several chapters are just so slow. If you were going to stop reading the book at any point, this is probably when it would be. The writing is simple (which is not necessarily a bad thing) and I really found myself thinking, “When is this going to get going and is ANY of this information important?” And the answer to that is some of it is and some of it isn’t. But I think around page 86 is when it really starts moving. That is when I updated my status that it had finally hooked me. So maybe be a little patient with this one if you want to read it.

Like I said, there is nothing special about the writing. I would even go so far as to call it a little juvenile in places. But most of the character development worked for me, though I didn’t find them as fleshed out as they could be. Everything about this book was good enough to get by. Not enough to make it really special, but enough to make it a decent read.

Unraveling Darcy’s story right along with her was a lot of fun. And the story moved fast enough, though there were sometimes lulls in the pacing that made me put the book down and do something else. Still, I read through this one pretty quickly (I’ve been reading slowly these days) and I did enjoy most of it. The ideas are original and I found them pretty fascinating even with the few inconsistencies that I found.

At one point towards the end, Darcy mentions that she doesn’t have eyes or a mouth when she is in shade form. So how can she see and talk? She doesn’t actually speak in shade form until the latter third of the book, but she does talk. How is that possible? Also, she sees in shade form throughout the entire novel. This was sort of a problem for me because I couldn’t make the leap in logic and I don’t think I should have to. It wasn’t explained well. Work out your plot holes before you publish. Sigh.

But all in all, I really did enjoy Darcy’s story. I liked the romance between Darcy and Conn but I still don’t understand the beginning. Did he or did he not try to kill her and why did she forgive him so easily? I grew to love Conn though and I am one of those readers that hates controlling love interests. I feel that Conn redeemed himself enough to be a great character and a viable love interest. I do not understand, however, why there was a love triangle. There was no need for the second love interest to enter the picture.

I was also disappointed by the ending. I felt it was lackluster and a little too neatly wrapped up. It just wasn’t what I was looking or hoping for from the book. It’s okay because that happens sometimes and even so I was still able to enjoy it. I wish I could say more, but you know…spoilers.

I loved Darcy’s friends and I loved a couple of the side characters. I loved the descriptions of Chicago and the different locations in the book. I think the author has a little skill to gain in the way she writes, but I do think this was a fun book and it was just one of those you could sit down and enjoy without thinking too much.  It won’t ever be a favorite, but in a genre that is mostly full of series these days, it was nice to find a standalone that kept my attention. I can recommend this one. I think there are other books I would pick up before it, but if you happen to be around it, I think it’s entertaining enough for you to give it a chance.

To purchase a copy of The Shadow Society from, click here: The Shadow Society

20 responses to “Book Review of The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski

  1. I also almost DNFed this just because it seemed to be taking so long to get revved up. However I thankfully found it to be a pretty fast read and I’m glad I finished it. I can definitely see it being polarizing.

  2. Amy

    I almost requested this on NetGalley, but I’m glad I didn’t. I have been seeing that a lot of people aren’t enjoying this one much. It sounds interesting though. I am glad that you were able to enjoy it. It’s just a shame that it took a while to get into it and you almost gave up.

    • Yeah, I almost did, but it really picked up and got a lot better. I couldn’t even begin to tell you which of my friends are going to like this one and which aren’t. Maybe you made a good choice.

  3. Hmmm, this is in the NG pile of fail, so I might get to it someday, but I’m not feeling especially enthused, since this seems to be a 3.5 at best.

  4. I completely agree with this review! I loved the descriptions of both Chicago’s, the relationship development between Conn and Darcy, the plot, Jims (looooved Jims!). I almost passed on this after all the negative reviews but now I’m really glad that I didn’t. Will you be reading Rutkoski’s other YA series? (I think it’s YA. Might be MG.) Great review as always, hun!

  5. Hmm this one interested me when I first saw it, but even though there’s been negative reviews I think I might still give it a go and at least see if I like it 🙂

    And I’m totally butting in but the the whole little comment thread above mine totally made me LOL. I spell it “hun”, and I agree that the other way just looks weird ha.

    Great review as always! 🙂

    • There are a lot of 3 star reviews of this one out there. I think Blythe and Steph 3 starred it. Jessie gave it a 2. I mean, I liked it but it had some issues. I think it’s still worth reading though. I was entertained! 🙂

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