Shade's Children

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Shade's Children Book Poster Image
Relentless tale of future warfare asks disturbing questions.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 11+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Shade's Children is set in a future altered by "the Change," where human/machine hybrids terrorize the remaining population. The science behind the Change is glossed over, but the novel does raise interesting questions about the possibility of machine consciousness and what it means to be human.

Positive Messages

Shade's Children emphasizes the importance of teamwork and sacrifice while offering a warning against those who would insist that the end justifies the means.

Positive Role Models & Representations

As the newcomer to Shade's Children, Gold-Eye holds the central point of view in the novel. At first concerned mostly with his own safety, he becomes part of a four-person team, ready to sacrifice everything for the hope of a better future for humanity. By the time of the climatic battle, each of Gold-Eye's compatriots has a clear vision of what they must do for themselves and others.


Shade's Children features teens in a near-constant state of jeopardy as they battle deadly Wingers, Ferrets and Myrmidons. Because these creatures are human/machine hybrids, they gush ichor, rather than blood. But because they contain the still vaguely conscious brains of captured children, their deaths invite a variety of mixed emotions.


All of Shade's Children take sex education and contraception classes. Those who choose may enter a lottery for sexual partners. Gold-Eye and Ninde are attracted to each other and engage in some form of sexual arousal, but the details are not given.


Shade's Children contains a small amount of profanity. "S--t" and "f--k" are used a couple of times as expletives during moments of high stress.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drum has been chemically neutered as a side effect of involuntary steroids overdoses.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Shade's Children is a fast-paced futuristic adventure that features teen characters in almost constant jeopardy. The characters battle mechanical hybrids, so there is little blood shed, but an awful lot of ichor gets spilled. There is a small amount of profanity ("s--t," "f--k" used as expletives a couple of times), and the teens are eligible for a sex lottery (though few details are given).

User Reviews

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Teen, 17 years old Written byHarry Mason April 6, 2017

An outstanding young adult novel that rarely pulls its punches

While at times Shade's Children can be a bleak book filled with peril and touchy subjects - like the flaws of mankind and its helplessness against the forc... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byAnsle May 18, 2013

Amazingand ation packed

In a world that is falling apart Gold-eye and his friends strugle to survive. They will have to face unknown dandgers together and learn to trust the people clo... Continue reading

What's the story?

Set after \"the Change,\" SHADE'S CHILDREN depicts a harrowing future where mysterious Overlords harvest all children over the age of 14 for their human/machine hybrids. After he escapes the Dorm, Gold-Eye is rescued by Ella, Drum and Ninde, savvy teenage survivors under the protection of an entity who calls himself Shade. Shade sends his children on dangerous missions, promising that they are fighting for a better day. But can Gold-Eye and his new friends trust Shade to have their best interests at heart?

Is it any good?

This a fast-paced tale of futuristic guerilla warfare, and Nix keeps the action and suspense high while still paying attention to the emotional lives of these hard-bitten survivors. There are few easy answers in this unforgiving world, and Nix keeps readers guessing and involved until the very end.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Shade's Children and the struggle to balance the future good of the majority against the immediate needs of an endangered minority.

  • Do you think a kind of machine consciousness like Shade might ever be possible? How might one differ from humankind?

  • Shade knows how to manipulate his Children to do his bidding. What kinds of rewards/punishments do governments or corporations offer to young consumers to make them behave in a certain fashion?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love science fiction and dystopian novels

Themes & Topics

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