Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Roadtrip Wednesday: The best book no one's ever heard of

I am really excited about this week's topic, because I can never find people who have read this book, and it's my favorite. So prepare for me to gush.

Well, first of all, because I'm a lame summarizer, here's what the back cover of Shade's Children by Garth Nix says:

In a brutal city of the future, human life is in the hands of the evil Overlords who have decreed that no child shall live a day past his fourteenth birthday. On that Sad Birthday, the child is the object of an obscene harvest--his brain and muscles are used to create machine-like creatures whose sole purpose is to kill.
The mysterious Shade--once a man, but now more like the machines he fights--recruits the few children lucky enough to escape. He gives them food, shelter, and the training they need to fight the Overlords. But Shade's sent many children out on missions--and fewer of them are coming back.
By luck, cunning, and skill, four of Shade's children--Ella, Drum, Ninde, and Gold-Eye--have come closer than any to discovering the source of the Overlords' power--and the key to their downfall. But the closer the children get, the more ruthless Shade seems to become...

It really is as awesome as it sounds. It is constantly exciting, and I love everything about this book. It's kind of older, I think it came out sometime in the 1990's. (I know, the stone age.) But with the popularity of dystopian right now, people need to get on top of reading this.

I have to admit that I'm a huge fan of Garth Nix to begin with. I also love his Abhorsen trilogy, but will read pretty much anything he publishes. But Shade's Children was the first book I read by him, and it was also a little out of the norm for me at the time. I was very into epic fantasy at that point, and didn't branch out a whole lot.

So what, in particular makes Shade's Children awesome? Well, there's a little bit of romance, which is always a plus. The four main characters are all well-developed and easy to sympathize with. And the two girls are both kickass, but in their own ways--Ella because she just is, Ninde because she kind of has to be. Shade is both creepy and helpful, and you seriously have no idea throughout the whole book whether he's going to turn out good or bad. The Overlords and their machine-like creatures are just so creepy. Especially the Overlords, who see humans as this inferior species, meant to be hunted, unable to comprehend anything about the universe. The children (or teens, really. All the main characters are somewhere between 15-19, though none of them really know their exact age) use the sewer system to travel around the city, because it's the only place they're safe from the creatures, and they live in a partially submerged submarine, long abandoned.

It's just so creepy and awesome and tense and well-written, and I think everyone should read it. Especially if you're planning on writing, or currently writing, something dystopian.

Want to share your favorite book no one's ever heard of? Visit YA Highway to share yours, and to see the links to others!


Lenore said...

I'll put it on my wishlist!

Phoebe said...

Oh, this sounds good. A shade (pun sadly intended) like John Christopher's tripod series, in that birthdays are used as indoctrination into a new, scary world. Will definitely look it up!

Kristin Miller said...

I haven't read this, but I'm pretty sure Chris has - and liked it. I'll have to pick it up for myself.

Michelle Schusterman said...

Nice! Nix rules, I agree. :)

Leila Austin said...

Oooooh, I have to read this one. I love dystopian fiction. I've read other things by Nix but definitely not this.