Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready
May 4, 2010; Simon Pulse
Love ties them together. Death can't tear them apart.
Best. Birthday. Ever. At least, it was supposed to be. With Logan's band playing a critical gig and Aura's plans for an intimate after-party, Aura knows it will be the most memorable night of her boyfriend's life. She never thought it would be his last.
Logan's sudden death leaves Aura devastated. He's gone.
Well, sort of.
Like everyone born after the Shift, Aura can see and hear ghosts. This mysterious ability has always been annoying, and Aura had wanted nothing more than to figure out why the Shift happened so she can undo it. But not with Logan's violet-hued spirit still hanging around. Because dead Logan is almost as real as ever. "Almost."
It doesn't help that Aura's new friend Zachary is so understanding--and so very alive. His support means more to Aura than she cares to admit.
As Aura's relationships with the dead and the living grow ever complicated, so do her feelings for Logan and Zachary. Each holds a piece of Aura's heart...and clues to the secret of the Shift. (courtesy of Goodreads)
I eagerly picked up Shade after reading tons of rave reviews about it. Unfortunately, it was not for me.
On the bright side, I loved the concept. After the "shift," an obscure date, every person born could see ghosts. Not every dead person becomes a ghost - depends on how they died. Interestingly, the few people who could see ghosts before the "shift" now can no longer see them. Other than this paranormal element, the world is just like modern day. In the Shade world, however, society has radically shifted to adjust to the ghostly presence. The dead can sue to avenge their deaths and hopefully gain some peace. The government is recruiting teenagers to join their ghost squad. Ghosts can be good, but can go evil - become "Shades" who must be eradicated permanently. These bad ghosts can't find peace; they just disappear.
So you see that the ghostly idea is fabulous. Ms. Smith-Ready does a lovely job in creating a ghost paranormal story like no other. But that's the peak of this novel for me.
I liked Aura. She's a normal teenage girl who loves her boyfriend, is close with her aunt (her parents are dead), and likes hanging out with her friend. She's not a wilting daisy, but nor is she a prize fighter. Logan - the boyfriend - is another story. He's an idiot who thinks he's a big shot, because his band's about to go big. He gets drunk and then is stupid enough to mix alcohol with cocaine, because of which he kicks the bucket. Part of me sees why Aura loves Logan. Both as a human and as a ghost, he has a mix of vulnerability and arrogance that is enticing. He's sweet and you can see that he genuinely cares for Aura and his siblings. But he quickly turns into a whiny, angry jerk when he doesn't get his way.
This is one of those love-triangle stories. Our third leg, Zachary, is a new kid from Scotland. I really like him. He's funny, kind, and smart. He has a hint of danger, but he's one of those good dangerous guys. Unlike many lovers of Highland romance, I don't find a Scottish brogue sexy. I find it rather irritating, actually. Give me an Irish or British accent any day. So the Scottish thing was a turn off. But Zachary is definitely the guy I wanted Aura to be with.
My biggest problem with this book was the plot. Early on, Logan dies and returns as a ghost. Aura meets Zachary and struggles between Logan and Zachary. That's all fine and good, but it didn't feel like a story. I kept wondering when a larger element would show up, as you see in most paranormal novels. It does finally appear, but not until 2/3-3/4 of the way through the book. It's an interesting twist, but the book ends before my curiosity is really piqued. I don't like it when I'm forced to turn the pages of almost an entire book wondering why I should care.
I wish I'd liked Shade more. I know many people did, so I wouldn't steer clear of it simply because of my review. Perhaps if I'd liked Logan better, it would have been different. There was some nice, hot romantic scenes in the story, but romance alone is not enough to carry a paranormal novel for me. I wanted a stronger plot and did not have the patience to wait until the second book to see it fully developed.