Book Review: Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older, by teen reviewer Lexi
Cassandra Clare meets Caribbean legend in SHADOWSHAPER, an action-packed urban fantasy from a bold new talent.
Sierra Santiago was looking forward to a fun summer of making art, hanging out with her friends, and skating around Brooklyn. But then a weird zombie guy crashes the first party of the season. Sierra’s near-comatose abuelo begins to say “No importa” over and over. And when the graffiti murals in Bed-Stuy start to weep…. Well, something stranger than the usual New York mayhem is going on.
Sierra soon discovers a supernatural order called the Shadowshapers, who connect with spirits via paintings, music, and stories. Her grandfather once shared the order’s secrets with an anthropologist, Dr. Jonathan Wick, who turned the Caribbean magic to his own foul ends. Now Wick wants to become the ultimate Shadowshaper by killing all the others, one by one. With the help of her friends and the hot graffiti artist Robbie, Sierra must dodge Wick’s supernatural creations, harness her own Shadowshaping abilities, and save her family’s past, present, and future. (Arthur A. Levine Books, June 2015)
“It was like being in the most beautiful car accident in the world with all your best friends and a bunch of total strangers and knowing you couldn’t get hurt”
This book was really, really interesting. The idea behind the book was really unique and I can say I have never read anything quite like it. The work was highly original.
I totally dig how an author can bring to life a story using wholly new and authentic ideas that no other author has written about. It’s always a journey to see if an author can accomplish creating a new world like the ShadowShaping spirit world. Sometimes the author completely fails in their mission. Sometimes they get it completely right like Daniel Jose Older has with this book.
I absolutely fell in love with the culture portrayed in this book. I am ashamed to say that I don’t know much about other cultures besides my own and i only know mine because of the society we live in. As books are diversifying I am learning so many new things about worlds outside of my own. Cultures like Sierra’s and Robbie’s fascinate me because they take so much pride in their roots. Sierra’s culture didn’t define who she is but enhanced her identity instead. Her Puerto Rican blood made her as great as any main character i’ve ever read. Her lineage made her stand out for me because I seem to read way too many books featuring non POC characters, especially main characters. I loved her language, the way she spoke with her friends, the way she spoke to her family. I could hear her accent conforming to fit the language she spoke depending on who she spoke to. I love the dancing. The style of dancing that Hispanic cultures are known for. I love everything about the culture in this book. It made me itch in excitement, even though I had to ask friends to translate some of the Spanish words for me I still enjoyed it.
I enjoyed the story. The introduction to a new world. The shadowshaping world is quite interesting, the way art can be invaded by a spirit and give the art life. However, i didn’t really like how rushed the book seems. The author seemed to write too quickly for my taste. The ideas were rushed and sometimes I had a hard time keeping up with what was going on in the book.
This book was outstanding despite my initial thoughts of it. Sierra is a strong independent female lead that stands strong in her religion of art and even stronger in her connection to her ancestry.
I give it 3 out of 5.
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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