Shade’s Children by Garth Nix: B+

From the back cover:
In a brutal city of the future, human life is in the hands of the evil Overlords who have decreed that no child live a day past his fourteenth birthday. On that Sad Birthday, the child is the object of an obscene harvest—his brains and muscles are used to construct machine-like creatures whose sole purpose is to kill.

The mysterious Shade—once a man, but now more like the machines he fights—recruits the few children lucky enough to escape. He gives them food, shelter, and the training they need to fight the Overlords. But Shade’s sent many children out on missions—and fewer of them are coming back.

By luck, cunning, and skill, four of Shade’s children—Ella, Drum, Ninde, and Gold-Eye—have come closer than any to discovering the source of the Overlords’ power—and the key to their downfall. But the closer the children get, the more ruthless Shade seems to become…

My friend at work loaned this to me many months ago, and I’ve finally managed to read it. Happily, it was good, so polite dissembling on that point won’t be required.

I definitely enjoyed the book. The Overlords were really creepy and neat, and there were some good surprises along the way. I particularly liked Ella; she kind of reminded me of Buffy at times. She even pondered using a rocket launcher against her foes!

But… I wanted more. I wanted to see more of society both before and after this Change occurred. I wanted to see more of the rest of Shade’s Children (both past and present), to see more missions, to delve more deeply into the characters. Gold-Eye is kind of the protagonist, for it was through his newbie eyes that Shade’s organization was revealed to the reader, but he had the least personality of the four kids. He liked girls. That was about it.

Ultimately, although Shade’s Children afforded more of a glimpse of a world rather than its exploration, it was still completely worth reading and made me want to seek out more by Nix. Thanks, work buddy!


Man, I am hungry. I’ve been sick the past few days and haven’t really felt much like eating, but today I am ravenous. Hopefully this is a sign that things are improving. It hasn’t been an utterly debilitating variety of sick, but I’ve felt pretty listless and my stomach has been tetchy.

Some comments on recent books:

Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix
I’d been curious about these books for a long time, but worried that they might be overly gothy on account of their subject matter. They turned out to be quite enjoyable. I had the good fortune to find unabridged audio versions narrated by Tim Curry. His voice for Moggett, a cat, was especially good. Sabriel is good and can function just fine as a stand-alone. Lirael, the second book, goes a little deeper into the title character’s personality and motivation, and just might be my favorite of the lot. It ends on a cliffhangery note. Abhorsen picks up precisely where Lirael left off and is just action, action, action until the very end, when things get more character driven again. I really felt like it wasn’t a book in its own right, but was just the second hunk of Lirael that got chopped off when someone decided it was too long.

I kept thinking that it might be rather dull to be physically reading this series at times, but the narration kept me entertained, and my complaints are few. Therefore, it’s recommended, but snag the audio if you can. My library had them all, and this town doesn’t even begin to be cosmopolitan, so I bet others will, too.

Daisy Miller by Henry James
What a weird little book. The moral seems rather ridiculous by today’s standards and is delivered by the sledgehammer method, making the end particularly silly. I guess I liked it alright. It was short, at least.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Rebecca rocks. There’s so much going on here I can’t really describe, but you’ve got a very cinemagraphic style of writing, a mysterious ex-wife named Rebecca, a meek and shy second wife who is occasionally very annoying, a creepy housekeeper, a moody older man, etc. If you haven’t read or seen it, you should. My main gripe is with the protagonist sometimes being very dumb (I saw one big plot twist coming miles away), but some of the other turns are genuine surprises, and just overall, the sense of suspense is finely maintained. Next on the list for me by du Maurier—Jamaica Inn. It’s the other of her novels that was made into a movie by Hitchcock. She also wrote the short story that inspired The Birds. Betcha didn’t know that!