Review: The Shadow Girl

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Shadow GirlThe Shadow Girl by Jennifer Archer
Published by HarperTeen on April 9, 2013
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

Sometimes I forget for an hour or two that she's with me. Sometimes I convince myself that she was only a dream. Or that I'm crazy.

For as long as Lily Winston can remember, she has never been alone. Iris, a shadowy figure who mimics Lily's movements and whispers in her ear, is with her alwaysโ€”but invisible to the rest of the world. Iris is Lily's secret.

But when Lily's father is killed in a tragic accident, his cryptic final words suggest that he and Lily's mother have been keeping secrets of their own. Suddenly, Iris begins pushing Lily more than ever, possessing her thoughts and urging her to put together the pieces of a strange puzzle her father left behind. As she searches for answers, Lily finds herself drawn to Ty Collier, a mysterious new boy in town. Together, Lily and Ty must untangle a web of deception to discover the truth about her family, Iris . . . and Lily's own identity.

First Sentence: “Ty Collier shivered as he paused in front of the Daily Grind coffee shop to wipe his boots on the mat beside the door.”

Though The Shadow Girl has a potentially hard-hitting premise, the end result doesn’t really wow. I feel like I probably should have disliked this, but I didn’t really; instead I feel largely ambivalent towards it. I’ve got a fair amount of criticisms to deliver, but, overall, this was a nice easy read, and wasn’t a struggle to get through.

On the plus side, there’s the concept of Lily having this other person in her brain, Iris. At the beginning the reader doesn’t know why Iris is in her head or if Iris is a sign of Lily’s insanity, but the idea is still a compelling one. Such concepts appear fairly frequently in YA, I think because there’s something about the idea of hearing voices, whether real or imagined that calls to the human imagination. Do we all inherently both fear and desire such a voice? Also, given the popularity of the themes covered, I do think Archer considers them in a slightly different way, a less harried, action-packed way, that is refreshing. Though The Shadow Girl does briefly appear to be heading for a climactic showdown, there’s really nothing of that sort here; it’s a mental journey for Lily, and that’s it.

Sadly, I figured out what was going on early on in the book, and I do not think I was especially clever to have done so. In fact, I think that the ‘twist’ is glaringly obvious. Lily does not really think there’s anything weird about some of the facts she’s uncovering when they should have been setting off immediate warning bells. Archer implies that this is because Lily doesn’t want to believe what’s going on, but that’s a bit far-fetched for a girl as well-educated as Lily.

Perhaps my favorite part involves the Stradivarius violin that Lily locates in the garage in the wake of her father’s death. Now, I can’t delve into this because of spoilers, but I’ll do my best. Archer weaves the power of music into her story, and I just love the idea she puts forth. I would have liked to see her do more with that, since it takes a backseat to the investigation plot line, which, again, was heading for a super obvious conclusion.

Otherwise, all that’s really going on in this book is romance, which is pretty unfortunate. There is yet another love triangle, and there’s instalove, or at least insta-serious-feelings. As ever, the two players for Lily’s affections are her best friend Wyatt and the mysterious newcomer Ty. Lily is torn between the two, finding both physically attractive, nice, and eminently kissable. Now, on the one hand, I don’t have a big issue with her being torn between the two guys; she’s not made a commitment to either one, and she’s welcome to make out with whoever she wants to. However, she’s a total dick to her best friend in the process. While she’s not unfair to Wyatt as a dating prospect, she’s a horrid friend, and never fully apologizes for that.

Further, Lily’s crush on Ty boggles my mind. She essentially discovers that he’s been stalking her family for reasons that are basically insane. Lily, however, is totally okay with this and still deems him totally datable. Even better, having stalked her and lied to her makes him a great candidate for a road trip buddy. Apparently, attending Columbia makes you totally respectable no matter what the circumstances. In real life, this would have ended with her death, as would that whole thing with Jake. This girl has NO survival skills at all. Well, actually, she does have one that puts her above most YA heroines, the ability to realize when she’s holding her breath.

Then there’s Lily’s relationship with her mother, or lack of relationship. Even though it’s obvious all of the information is coming out, the mom freaking refuses to say a single thing to Lily about what exactly is going on. This pushes Lily to ask other people. Why was the mother so against explaining? Why did she cave so easily once Lily left? Was her daughter driving across country with a possible serial killer really the only catalyst to push her to admit she has a problem and get over herself?

I realize that based on this review, it sounds like The Shadow Girl should have a lower rating, but I honestly didn’t dislike it. Nor did I exactly like it. Meh.

Favorite Quote:

“I exhale the breath I’ve been holding.”

18 responses to “Review: The Shadow Girl”

  1. Angie F says:

    I thought this one was just okay, too. I really wanted more out of it, and I also figured out the “twist” super early…like the first chapter. :-/

  2. Kami says:

    This kinda sounds like What’s Left of Me. It also sounds like just a fun easy read for people. I love that you mentioned music. Music is a powerful thing!

  3. KM says:

    LOL to your favorite quote. Finally, a book that has the character holding her breath on purpose! What a novel concept lol

  4. I DNF this book and yes I figured out the twist too. It had such great promise but sadly fell into many YA tropes ๐Ÿ™

  5. Amy says:

    There were a lot of things I didn’t enjoy about this book too, but I didn’t hate it, and I actually did like it for the most part.

    And just have to put my favorite line of your review!!

    “This girl has NO survival skills at all. Well, actually, she does have one that puts her above most YA heroines, the ability to realize when she’s holding her breath.”

    OMG Love that!! You totally rock!!

  6. No survival skills is what gets me eye rolling in disgust in most of YA novels. I’m sorry, no matter how “civilized” our society becomes, unfortunately a woman/girl still can’t afford to be too dumb, and reckless road trips with a stalker or woodland walks with a stranger are insane by definition ๐Ÿ™
    I think I’ll skip this one, Christina. Nothing spoils my mood more than reading something like this.

    • Christina says:

      For real, I mean, I’m not a victim-blamer, but I still think it’s not advisable to go on a road trip with some guy you don’t know. That’s dangerous and while, yes, in an ideal world, women wouldn’t have to worry, we don’t live in that world.

  7. Is it weird that I kind of want to read this book now? Like, I wouldn’t put myself above not being able to figure out the twist because I fail at the kind of stuff. And I like romance. And insta-love (Yes. I said it.). Plus, whenever someone doesn’t exactly like a book that makes me want to read it more. Oh, and your favorite quote made laugh out loud.

    • Christina says:

      Ha, a little bit. Dude, you will so figure out the twist though. I mean, it was majorly obvious. The only reason I wasn’t a hundred percent sure I knew was because I thought there HAD to be another twist, because it was so obvious.

      O_O You like instalove?!?!?! WHAT?

  8. Soma Rostam says:

    Well, your review is strange. But I get what you think about this book. This book sounds interesting. I like the premise a lot. I hate insta-love SO much!
    GREAT review, Christina, as always
    Your reader,

  9. Kelly says:

    Sometimes a mehness towards a book is worse than disliking it; it usually means it fades from memory pretty quickly! I really liked this one, even though everything you touched on I agreed. I think it says something about the mood I was in when I read it, haha!

  10. Kayla Beck says:

    Oh god, I was Lily when I was younger! Trips with potentially dangerous strangers was my favorite! And voices! I hold my breath sometimes, too!

    I may not be kidding about that, but this just sounds silly. Skipping it.

  11. The Shadow Girl is one of those you either like it or not books. I read either praise or meh reviews from my friends. Since I forgot to request eARC while it was available, I think I will pass on buying this one. Love triangle and insta-attraction are not my thing.

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