By Michael Berry,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Serial killer stalks teen girl in spooky thriller.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
A few details about how the police go about tracking a serial killer.
The characters in Shadowlands live under a tremendous amount of stress -- stalked by a relentless serial killer while also holed up in a strange, remote town full of secrets. But the novel emphasizes the importance and strength of family bonds, and the characters are able to offer compassion to one another in their harrowing situation.
Positive Role Models
Interested more in the science and math than in boys and partying, Rory, the protagonist of Shadowlands, is a serious-minded girl who has her world turned upside-down through no fault of her own. As harrowing as her own experiences are, she finds compassion for her distraught sister and their grieving father. She even tries to play fair by the oddly passive-aggressive inhabitants of Juniper Landing.
Violence & Scariness
As a serial-killer thriller, Shadowlands has its share of violent scenes, including chases through the fog, some stabbings and gunfights. A couple of particularly intense scenes, however, prove less lethal than initially thought. The bloodshed is generally not dwelled upon. Chapters from the point of view of the killer may disturb more sensitive readers, but most should be able to handle them.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
In Shadowlands, Rory is strongly attracted to her sister, Darcy's, boyfriend, Christopher, and makes out with him very soon after he and Darcy break up. Their relationship doesn't progress far -- Rory cuts it off due the guilt she feels at "betraying" her sister. On Juniper Landing, Darcy throws herself at some of the local boys, but Rory receives the most attention. Rory feels attracted to one boy in particular, but not much beyond mild flirting happens.
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There's some swearing in Shadowlands -- "hell," "damn," "ass" and "bitch" -- but the characters stop themselves before dropping the worst profanities, with one character muttering just half a word, written as: "Motherf--!"
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some of the kids on the mysterious island indulge in underage drinking, but Rory refrains from joining them.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Shadowlands is a serial-killer thriller that takes a sharp turn into the supernatural by the end of the novel. The violence quotient is not particularly high, and a handful of intense, bloody scenes prove less lethal than they initially appear, but there are some stabbings and gunfights. Chapters from the killer's point of view may disturb some particularly sensitive readers but should not be a problem for most. There's a small amount of swearing ("hell," "damn," "ass," "bitch"), a bit of flirtation and making out among the characters, and a few depictions of underage drinking.
Where to Read
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What's the Story?
Rory Miller is targeted by a seemingly unstoppable serial killer who will go to any length to make her his latest victim. Unable to protect her at her home, the FBI sends Rory, along with her sister, Darcy, and their father, to a remote island where they will live under new identities. But once they reach Juniper Landing, Rory still feels as if the killer night be stalking her. Almost as unsettling is the behavior of the other teens on the island, who seem to share a secret that involves Rory and Darcy.
Is It Any Good?
SHADOWLANDS starts strongly, with a game of cat-and-mouse between Rory and her would-be killer. But once the action relocates to Juniper Landing, the passive-aggressive natives and Rory's traumatized-yet-still-somewhat-annoying father and sister derail much of the plot's suspense. There's a big reveal at the end of the novel that puts everything before it into a new perspective and sets the stage, presumably, for sequels. Some readers will be intrigued and excited for more. Others may feel cheated.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about what makes stories about a serial killer popular. Is it the suspense? The creepy killer? The terrorized protagonist?
Mysteries and thrillers are often set in tourist/resort towns -- what makes them different from places where the population is more permanent? And what about those characteristics are good for stroytelling?
What might be like to leave behind your home, school, and friends to protect your family from someone who wants to harm them?
- Author: Kate Brian
- Genre: Mystery
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, High School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
- Publication date: January 8, 2013
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 17
- Number of pages: 336
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: July 12, 2017
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