[REVIEW] Shade – Jeri Smith-Ready

Jeri Smith-Ready
Shade (Shade, Book 1)
Simon & Schuster (UK & AU: September 2010; US & CA: April 2011)
Buy (US) Buy (UK) Buy (CA) Buy (Worldwide)

Gather ’round, children, to hear the tale of “The Ghost Who Couldn’t Get It Up”. Intrigued? Of course you are.

In Baltimore, teenage Irish-flavoured punk-rock band the Keeley Brothers has interest from two record companies. After playing a showcase, the band parties up big time, downing plenty of beer, “Liquid Stupid”, and – in the case of Logan Keeley – cocaine. It’s a fatal combination, leaving Logan a ghost.

His very much alive girlfriend, Aura Salvatore, turns to a new Scottish student for comfort, together researching the night sky and megaliths. It’s supposedly a project for school, but this time it’s personal. But rest assured, this novel is not as cliché as it sounds.

In fact, it’s surprising how good this story is, a true testament to Jeri Smith-Ready’s considerable talents. She’s put a fresh spin on ghosts, and intriguing world-building that bloody well better be further explained in the next two books in the series. (Shift is out now; Shine is out in 2012.) I’d love to learn more about BlackBoxing, what caused the Shift, and what the megaliths and the night sky have to do with it.

Is this yet another teen paranormal romance love triangle? Yes, it is. Logan is a ghost. Zachary is alive. I don’t really care for either, except I do have a weakness for the Scottish accent. Don’t we all?

The music is mostly hipster, except for the commercial Snow Patrol. I do not care for their Eyes Open album, and you can blame the media saturation of “Chasing Cars” and “Open Your Eyes” for that. Final Straw is a much, much better album, and with a non-sappy ballad (“Run”). You may think I’m digressing, but you can judge a lot about a person – and characters, for that matter – by their musical tastes. Zachary Moore’s favourite song is Death Cab for Cutie’s “I Will Possess Your Heart”. Emo-hipsters tend to love that song. I appreciate the bass-line, but the lyrics… A wise woman, Justine Larbalestier, once said that love songs are basically stalker songs. Read the title of Zach’s favourite song. Yeah. (PS I’m struggling to choose a favourite song, but I think it might be Tori Amos’s “Spark”. Make of that what you will.)

I’m loving the world-building; so looking forward to reading more. I’d gone off paranormal for several months, but Jeri Smith-Ready has lured me back in, that siren…

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