“You sit in the dark,
watching their faces as they talk through brief lives, and all the
time you wonder what got them in the end. Was it a Winger striking
out the sky? Trackers on their heels till they dropped and the
Myrmidons came? A Ferret uncoiling in some dark hole where they'd
hoped to hide?
Now you're watching me... and you're wondering...
What got her?”
"He'd already decided he wouldn't run.
Better dead or even the Meat Factory than more years of running
scared, running alone.”
Written by Garth Nix, Shade's Children is, essentially, a novel of post-apocalyptic angst.
Fifteen years have gone by since a
Change swept the land. Anyone over the age of fourteen just up and
disappeared. Poof. Gone. The children who remained were put into
huge groups homes, where you were given enough food to keep you
strong, enough education to keep your mind keen and enough
companionship to keep you alive. But when you turn fourteen, they
take all of that away from you and harvest your body parts.
This is the world that Gold-eye
escaped. Thanks to help from his older brother, Gold-eye was able to
avoid his fate and given the chance to run free. But as it turns out,
the world outside the dorms is just as hard as that inside. Except
now, one must provide for themselves and fight off the Overlord's
"I was eleven years old then. Eight
years ago, which means I am probably the oldest human alive.”
Four children, the last few who remain free
from the Overlords, band together. Their only real goal is survival,
but Shade is the provider of safety. And with him comes a harsh
price. They must do the work he cannot. Together, using powers
developed by many children after the change, they fight the
Overlords. Saving those they can free, destroying those who get in
their way, and, hopefully, working towards a better tomorrow.
"Thin, spindly stick-humans that looked like half-melted
plastic soldiers. Bright, bulbous eyes, too large for their
almost-human eye sockets.”
When the Change happened, the Overlords surfaced. In the
beginning, they hid their intentions. They came in big trucks,
promising to take children back to their parents. But it quickly
became apparent that they had more sinister motives.
They harvest the brains of any child over the age of fourteen in
order to create their vile minions. These strange human-technology
hybrids are nothing but phantoms of their former selves. Their
controllers, though, seem to be quite a bit more...
"Perhaps I can redeem myself after all...”
After the Change, only one man survived. Robert Ingman. While his
body was destroyed, his mind was saved in an advanced sort of
computer system. A scientist at heart, he took on discovering what
had happened to the world. But somewhere along the line, he changed.
With the mind of a computer, his mental evolution occurred at a
much faster rate than the world around him.
Naming himself Shade, he began welcoming any child who could
escape the Meat Factory into his arms. Over time, he'd developed a
safe-house in a beached submarine. He became a sort of father figure,
over all of the children. Except over time he began to see himself as
more than just the protector. As the saying go, power corrupts...
“... and he added his own
wail of despair ...”
The first time I read this book, I got about
halfway before I skipped to the last page. It didn't really appeal to
me. Maybe that's because it was really a young adult book and I've
haven't exactly had an affinity for those (with the obvious exception
of the Animorphs... They were the coolest ever. EVER!). Really, it
was written with a young person in mind. The language is anything but
complex. Hell, the main character only speaks in broken English.
That irritates the hell out of me. Because the idea behind the
book is great. But Nix fails to live up his potential with this
book, because he deliberately wrote for an age group.
After a year or so, I picked up the book again. Vague memories of
enjoying the plot ran through my head. This time, I read it through.
Cover to cover. And I was pleasantly surprised. The story did bring
itself to a conclusion rather well. I still disliked the writing
style, but I passed that by and gave myself enough time to enjoy the
It seems that targeting young adults with pseudo-science fiction
has been a popular theme this last while. And Garth Nix landed a
winner. Even if I can't stand the style of the book, I can completely
approve of the plot and characters. So my advice is check it out. And
give it a second chance after you set it down. I think you'll find it
worth the effort.
Title: Shade's Children
Author: Garth Nix
Publisher: Harpercollins Publishers
Genre: Science Fiction