★ ★ ★ ★ ★ – 5 Stars
Seeing as Australia Day is upon us I thought I would post a review of an Australian author and I am choosing Shade’s Children by Garth Nix. Another goodreads steal, originally from Sep 19 2012, this story gets us as far from WA and Melbourne as we can, with a story where the human race has been overtaken and enslaved by the Overlords.
This story is set in a dystopian future and begins right in the middle of the action as we are introduced to this strange new world piece by piece. Fifteen years prior a mysterious Change has occurred causing all the adults to vanish, and creatures now roam the city and all the remaining children are essentially raised for their parts and no one is allowed to live past their fourteenth birthday.
The story follows Gold-Eye, Ella, Drum and Ninde as they work for the revered, yet mysterious Shade to fight in this war. Their missions revolve around trying to help the children still trapped and under Overlord control and those who have managed to escape and are fighting for their lives on the streets. Nix has written this in segments, and each segment focuses on following the different characters around. By doing this Nix gradually reveals certain information, and certainly only as it is required, never more than he has to. There are the occasional report and archived transcripts placed throughout, along with comments and stories by various characters. I think this helps to piece together the world really well and you manage to see it from all angles so by the end of the story you know a lot, but somehow you still only know as much as you need to.
It is certainly very cleverly written and I think even though it is a known archetype of the dystopia, Nix takes it in his own hands and makes it something fantastic with such unique and appealing characters. Not everything is revealed in clear terms which I thought was part of the charm, and Nix is smart enough not to make everything sunshine and lollipops. It is still a war zone and casualties are to be expected. The honour, bravery and innocence of these kids is shown through Nix’s writing and expression of these characters. Because there are so many mixes of kids and histories you get to see those who have known nothing except these Dorms where they are raised and know of nothing else, but you also get to see the odd few who remember what is was like before the invasion. With no adults and their own lives in their hands, these young kids follow instinct and whatever training they have or have not had, guided entirely by Shade. There is a lot of suspense in this book, and you do find yourself always guessing and trying to jump ahead because it gives the impression that everything could change suddenly and change everything you have been trying to grasp. Those kinds of books are always a winner in my eyes. Once again Mr Nix has not failed his readers and produced another great story to add to his collection.