Tuesday, September 17, 2013
ARC Review: Chasing Shadows
Graphics by Craig Phillips
Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2013
Scheduled to release September 24
Source: Received an ARC through Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.
I was drawn to this book by its novel approach which incorporates graphic novel drawings into the text because one character starts to visualize life as such. These pictures really brought the text to life and made me more sympathetic to her situation so I applaud the creators for that decision. I also found the pictures helped me to get through the darker moments of the narration because this story has some very difficult emotional moments.
The book opens with Corey, Holly, and Savitri freerunning around Chicago. Their joy is shattered when a lone gunman opens fire on twins Holly and Corey in their car as Savitri watches in horror from ahead. Corey heroically drapes himself over Holly, sacrificing his own life but leaving the two friends behind to cope as best they can. Savitri decides she will be the best friend she can be even if that means following along behind Holly's crazy path. Holly, for her part, believes she can bring Corey back by serving up his murderer. The lengths she takes to do so seriously fray their friendship and both of their families.
My description here doesn't really do the book justice with its many themes and layers as well as the sheer emotional punch it packed. Though I didn't mention it above, my favorite aspect was Savitri's Hindu heritage, which plays a huge role in Holly's imaginings and the drawings. She is named for an important legend and I loved getting to hear the story of that. It fueled my love for Hindu legends, developed after taking a course in school.
The book alternated between the narration of the two girls. Holly begins and I really struggled as she likes to Capitalize Random Words and I didn't understand that about her. When the narration switches, Savitri observes this about her and immediately it helped bring Holly into perspective. In general, I preferred Savitri's more calm narration because Holly's impulsiveness is quite different from my own personality. Additionally Savitri continues to be more balanced as Holly grows increasingly erratic and determined to track down the killer. This was thrilling to observe but it was difficult to be in Holly's head. The pace of the book is pretty fast and once I glommed onto Savitri, I was hooked.
I don't want to get too in-depth about the plot because I want to leave some surprises for you but overall I really enjoyed this book. Its complex female characters, its decision to add graphic novel touches, and its incorporation of Hindu mythology among other well-done writing and characterization made this one a winner!
Haven't seen too many yet-hopefully more to come as the release date approaches!