Shadowlands by Kate Brian
Release date: January 8, 2013
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***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD***
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?
I finished reading Shadowlands tonight, and UGH. Just UGH. It is so incredibly awful that I'm feeling a bit pissed off about how bad it is.
The synopsis makes it sound interesting, but it's somewhat misleading (picky point: hiking into sunsets? I don't remember any sunsets in the book, but there was a sunrise--that no one hiked into). While I was reading, I kept waiting. . . and waiting. . . and waiting. . . for the new friend to go missing. I thought it would happen fairly early on, but nope. It didn't happen until almost the end of the book, and then, it wasn't even a big deal.
There are just so many flaws with this book, that I'm not sure where to start. I will make a list.
1. The police/FBI: They're not portrayed well, or realistically, at all. No law enforcement agency would send a family into a witness protection program in the manner it was done. Okay, I get that the witness protection program didn't really exist, considering Rory and her family were dead and all, but if you're going to string your readers along, making them believe that Rory is indeed in hiding from a serial killer, then the least you could do is make it realistic. Having the FBI send Rory and her family away in a conspicuous car, from their house, with no escort and every possibility that they will be followed (since they made it so easier for the killer the follow Rory's dad, sister, and herself) doesn't cut it. Sending them to an island that has no internet service and no cell service--that is a "dead zone," as Rory calls it--also does not cut it.
2. The characters actions made absolutely no sense. Were there hints throughout the book that the characters acted the way they did because they were all dead? If so, I didn't pick up on any of those. Instead, it seemed like there might be a supernatural element or that Rory may have suffered from a psychological disorder, but even with those thoughts running in my mind, the characters' actions didn't make any sense. Tristian stalking Rory? Police not having interest in a supposed missing person? Darcy not remember people that she and Rory had interacted with and/or talked about on multiple occasions? It made no sense at all.
3. The climax. Oh, the serial killer is there! Oh my gosh, he kidnapped Darcy! So of course, the obvious answer is for the police to lie about calling the FBI, while a bunch of teenagers escort Rory to an abandoned building, where they let her go into the building by herself, then easily subdue a serial killer who has never let a victim escape. It was over in no more than three pages, and it was a major letdown. I would have much preferred it if Rory had just been killed--that at least might have been a little interesting.
4. Subplots--if that's what they're supposed to be. Mainly, I'm talking about Rory's non-relationship with Chris. Sure, Chris broke up with Darcy because he was in love with Rory, and Rory and Darcy are sisters, but aside from the fact that this created almost non-existent tension between Rory and Darcy, there was no point to it. It was just a random thing tossed into what was already a mess of things, and it did absolutely nothing to serve the book.
5. The ending. I dropped a lot of silent f-bombs when I read it. It came out of nowhere. It doesn't make sense. Everyone's dead? Really? So when, exactly, was Rory really murdered? Was it when she was in the woods? Was it when the killer followed her family and her and rammed into their car on highway? Was it in a scene that didn't even actually happen in the book? This ending was not justified in any way. The way I feel about this ending is the same way I feel about the endings of Jodi Picoult books: the author had no f-ing idea how to end the book so she took an easy way out, which resulted in an ending that made no sense, was not justified and just plain sucked.
6. It's the first of a series. I dropped an f-bomb at that, too. I hate the fact that so many books have to be a series now. I get that it's because the publishers want to make money, and making something a series all but guarantees they'll make more money in the long run, but I doubt the second book will clear up any of the confusion I felt from the first book, or resolve any unanswered questions, so why not just call it wash and move on?
Kate Brian could have taken this book in so many awesome directions, but for whatever reason, she chose not to. I'm disappointed in that. Because really, I hate this book. That's not something I say often; usually, I just really dislike books. I wanted so badly to like it, and I'm so disappointed that it's not something I can like, no matter how hard I try.