Review: Shadowlands (Series)

Posted July 22, 2014 / Book Reviews / 10 Comments

Review: Shadowlands (Series)Shadowlands by Kate Brian
Series: Shadowlands #1
Genres: Mystery/Thriller, Young Adult
Published by Disney-Hyperion on January 8th 2013
Also by this author: Private, Ex-Mas
Format: Paperback (336 pages) • Source: Gift
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four-half-stars

Rory Miller had one chance to fight back and she took it. Rory survived and the serial killer who attacked her escaped. Now she must enter the witness protection program. At first it seems like her family's new home may be just the fresh start they need. But just as theyíre starting to feel safe again, one of Rory's new friends goes missing. Is it a coincidence? Or is the nightmare beginning all over again? New York Times best-selling author Kate Brian is back with a haunting new YA series packed with dark twists and turns.

Review: Goddamnit Kate Brian, you never disappoint me. I can’t think of the last time I read one of her books and wasn’t completely shocked, intrigued, and/or baffled by the ending. Let me start out by saying that the only reason I read this book is because it was written by Kate Brian — I would usually never pick up a book that sounds this creepy. The other books I’ve read by her (primarily the Private series) can get a little freaky, but not this much. It took me a little while to get into, but that was mostly because I refused to read it at night and scare myself into thinking I was going to be murdered before bed. I just steamrolled through the second half of the book this afternoon because I could not put it down. I can’t even think of a good reason why this book doesn’t have five stars, but I kind of forced myself to give it 4.5. I like to reserve 5 stars for books that are completely lifechanging and/or would go on my “favorites” list. The book begins with Rory being chased by a serial killer through the woods and her escaping from him. Her family, which includes her father and her sister Darcy, is going into “witness protection” to the island of Jupiter Landing. Let me just say it is extremely unreasonable that the FBI had the family head off in a car by themselves while a killer was on the loose, but whatever. Steven Nell, the man attempting to kill her, has seemingly followed her to the island and is plotting when he can kill her. The island seems like a typical vacation spot, but many of the locals treat Riley differently. It seems that there are secrets that they’re not telling Rory as she begins to uncover weird happenings and more evidence that Nell has followed her family to the island.  Hindsight is 20/20 with books like this; I never pick up on little clues as they’re happening, but everything becomes so obvious at the end. A lot of reviewers predicted the ending, but I did not see it coming at all. Even until the very last sentence of the book. Thank god the second book was already released (and the third book was actually released this week too). I immediately started with the second book, Hereafter, and it has a completely different vibe. As usual, my reviews are spoiler free, but the genre of the book almost completely changes. If you’ve read her Private series before, you are no stranger to Kate Brian pulling this kind of switch, but again for some reason I did not see it coming. I won’t get too much into it, but the twist has me looking forward to the rest of the series even more. I was expecting to be relieved when this book ended, because it seemed too creepy for me to fully enjoy, but it completely exceeded my expectations. Any book that makes me repeat “holy shit” to myself for the next few minutes is a keeper in my mind. With the exception of We Were Liars. Fuck that book.


Review: Shadowlands (Series)Hereafter by Kate Brian
Series: Shadowlands #2
Published by Disney-Hyperion on October 1st 2013
Also by this author: Private, Ex-Mas
Format: eBook (320 pages) • Source: Purchased
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four-half-stars

Rory Miller thought her life was over when a serial killer set his sights on her and forced her into witness protection. But a fresh start on Juniper Landing Island was exactly what she and her family needed. For the first time in years she and her sister hang out at the beach, gossip about boys, and party together. She's also made friends with a local clique--including a magnetic and mysterious boy named Tristan. But Rory's world is about to change again. Picturesque Juniper Landing isn't what it seems. The truth about the swirling fog that rolls in each morning, the bridge that leads to nowhere, and those beautiful locals who seem to watch Rory's every move is more terrifying than being hunted by Steven Nell. And all Rory ever wanted was the truth. Even if it means learning that she can never go home again. From the best-selling author of the Private and Privilege series comes the second novel in a heart-stopping trilogy about a girl who must pick up the pieces after the only life she's ever known ends.

Review: At the end of Shadowlands, the reader learns why there have been all sorts of weird happenings on the island. If you remember the “dream” that Rory has in the beginning of the book (where the family’s truck is driven off the road and Nell kills Rory and her family; she kills him right before dying), you learn that this was not a dream – it actually happened. Hereafter describes what the purpose of Jupiter Landing is and how Rory will fit in to the big picture. The storyline of the first book is confusing, because the reader is struggling to figure out what happens on the island along with Rory. This book’s plotline is much more linear and easy to follow. We learn the logistics of how everything works, how Rory ended up there, and how she will be able to help them. A little bit of a romantic subplot starts to form (which everyone probably sees coming from a mile away, based on the first book). That part was kind of uninteresting to me because Jesus Christ she JUST got to the island and already has these intense feelings for someone? Talk about some love-at-first-sight bullshit. It’s hard to talk about this book without divulging a lot of the first few chapters of the book, but the general idea is that some weird shit starts happening on the island that hasn’t happened before. Many people think Rory is responsible because she just got there and the timing seems right. However, there’s something more sinister going on and all of the locals will have to figure out what the fuck is going on. I finished Shadowlands and immediately started Hereafter, because I needed to know what happens next. I finished this book within about 3-4 hours because I parked my ass on the couch and couldn’t stop reading. Both books were pageturners, but it took Shadowlands a little longer to get to that point for me. I was about halfway through the book when I realized I couldn’t stop. It’s hard to say which book I liked better because they were almost two completely different genres. The first book was confusing, but this book tied everything together (while introducing new problems the characters would have to work through). I rated it the same as the first one because I think it was different, but just as epic. The ending of the second book definitely had a surprise twist (or maybe not, if you’re good at predicting book endings), but I can’t help but feel like it isn’t what it seems. Kate Brian seriously fucks with my head with her books. Just when you think you’ve figured it all out, she throws a complete curveball and changes literally everything. The theory that Rory and her friends develop at the end of the book is probably not correct – in my opinion. Hopefully Endless ties everything up nicely so I can finally figure out what the hell is going on!


Review: Shadowlands (Series)Endless by Kate Brian
Series: Shadowlands #3
Published by Disney-Hyperion on July 22nd 2014
Also by this author: Private, Ex-Mas
Format: eBook (304 pages) • Source: Purchased
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four-half-stars

An unthinkable betrayal threatens everyone Rory loves in the third installment of our dark, thrilling Shadowlands series from New York Times best-selling author Kate Brian.Rory Miller didn't just fall in love with Tristan Parrish. She fell in love with the idea of forever. He was the one who told her the truth about her existence in Juniper Landing: that her mortal life is over, and she will now spend eternity on the island, helping others in limbo move on.But like Juniper Landing, a bright island with dark secrets, Tristan is too good to be true. The mysterious, heartbreakingly beautiful boy Rory thought she knew is responsible for unthinkable evil-sending good souls to the Shadowlands in order to get himself a second chance at life on Earth. He has already claimed Rory's friend Aaron and her own father, but when SPOILER Tristan sends her sister, Darcy, to the Shadowlands, too, Rory decides to take matters into her own hands. She will do anything to save her family, even if it means going to hell and back.

Review: Well, I’m a little sad that trilogy is over. I feel like this book was my least favorite in some ways. In Shadowlands, you’re on the edge of your seat wondering what the fuck is going on there. In Hereafter, you’re fascinated by the island and learning what it’s all there for. In Endless, it kind of just…ends. I gave all three books 4.5 out of 5 stars because they were extremely entertaining and basically made me read during every free second of the day for the past two days. I like that Kate Brian tries to bring you down different paths as you’re trying to figure out who is responsible for all of the havoc on Jupiter Landing. As I’ve said before, she confuses and surprises me with every book she writes. So, in Hereafter we learned that Jupiter Landing is the limbo place people go before they pass on to the afterlife. The Lifers, which now includes Rory, are responsible for helping souls get into either the Shadowlands (like hell) or the Light (like heaven). They meet the souls, see their stories, help them wrap up unfinished business, and bring them over to their final destination. This is essentially their purpose until the end of time. There are weird happenings on Jupiter Landing, though, and everyone is trying to figure out who is responsible for them. (It’s kind of hard to separate the last two books since I read them so quickly and immediately; their plot lines were more similar so Shadowlands is almost a completely different thing in my mind). The cheesy love story continues and stops and continues (as usual) and someone else gets thrown into the mix to make it a triangle (as usual). That part kind of annoyed me, but without it the ending wouldn’t have been the same – so I guess I’m okay with it in the grand scheme of things. I feel like this book made me so suspicious of EVERY character, which is obviously what Kate Brian was hoping for, but I wasn’t too shocked at the end when I found out who it actually was. They were a frontrunner in my mind for most of the last book. One thing I didn’t enjoy too much either was the random chapters from the point of view of the villain. I saw that some reviewers liked this, while others didn’t. I don’t know…to me, it didn’t add that much to the novel. They essentially repeated the same shit over and over again in each of their chapters. Although, sometimes it helped you narrow it down to at least cross a few suspects off your list. Also, while there was a lot happening in this book, there also wasn’t a lot happening… does that make any sense? Different events kept occurring and the plot was moving, but it seemed like she could have gotten to the end result much faster and with less random crap in between. I feel like this review makes it seem like I didn’t like the last book, which isn’t true. I enjoyed it because everything gets wrapped up in the end and you learn what will happen for the rest of the characters.


Overall trilogy review: I really did enjoy these books. Kate Brian is one of my all-time favorite authors. She manages to write about creepy topics and characters without deterring me from the books. I’m much more of a fluffy YA reader, but the mystery aspect and her writing style are what draw me in. This series was a total pageturner for me. I was halfway through Shadowlands on Monday at lunchtime, finished it around 3:30, started Hereafter around 6, finished it around 8:30, started Endless today in the early morning, and just finished it after reading on and off throughout the work day. Luckily all three books were out already when I started; I don’t think I would have been able to wait in between books! Overall, the concept of these book was really interesting to me. It turned out COMPLETELY different than what I expected after reading the summary of the first book. I wish the actual purpose/activities of the island were able to happen more often, so I could have experienced a little more of it. Kate Brian, you get a gold star from me as always.

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