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Goats, gripes, and grasping for greatness
Books: Shadows, by Robin McKinley 
27th-Sep-2013 02:59 pm
Today to Read
Shadows, by Robin McKinley. Urban Fantasy, hardback, 368 pages. Standalone.

So. Um. Yeah. That was a book. Where to begin?

In Shadows, McKinley followed her idiomatic muse from Sunshine onward into a land that holds weirder slang, Japanese, and the odd German to make it even less comprehensible. I didn't find this terribly difficult for the most part, because the words are repeated and explained, and they are usually nestled into something contextual. Though, as the action picked up, I had to stay concentrated on the story or the words would slither out of my grasp. Towards the end of the book, even her English required double-takes. For example, while I understand the concept when I hear it, "head-onned" (hit by a car coming at you) is not something I normally see in print.

Despite the language games, McKinley did not stray far from her literary roots in this book. Anyone who has read Sunshine or Dragonhaven should be right at home in this storyland. Our heroine Maggie is a teenage girl who is good in literature, horrible in math, not so great in communication, and fabulous in loyalty and family (see also: Aerin, Hari, Rae). She absolutely adores animals (see also: Honor, Aerin, Jake, Deerskin), and has an awesome dog as well as a dog-family at the local shelter. Maggie and her family live on the side of the planet - literally named "NewWorld" - where magic has been outlawwed in favor of technology. However, the rifts of reality in the world are getting worse right in her hometown. When things start going aggressively sideways, Maggie follows her puzzling instincts (Rae, Jake, Marisol) into the realms of magic.

I enjoyed the teenage-ness about this book. McKinley gave Maggie's story the almost-typical setting upon which to build her larger world. Maggie has a wonderful mom, a weirdo step-dad, a lovable but annoying younger brother, a joined-at-the-brain best friend, the cute boy she's known forever, and the cute boy who just got to town. She also has a hideously huge remedial algebra text book, an origami habit, a wildly overactive dog, and oh, yeah, those weird jagged shadows with too many legs and silver eyes that follow her step-dad around.

I also enjoyed Maggie's realism and groundedness about herself and her friends. Even when she was unsure about the rest of the world, she was sure of her best friend Jill and her dog Mongo. She had a lot more of the Marisol-like trust in the animals around her. She also had a lot less internal rambling and self-doubt than Rae. Don't mistake me for saying that Maggie had a clue, though. McKinley's tendency to shove and tumble her heroines through the confusion and chaos (and fight scenes) has not changed from the days of Aerin and Maur. The sidekick teams in this story were much more interesting than I expected. I enjoyed learning about each one individually as well as in groups as the story dashed and then plodded through after school excitement and in-school normalcy. I appreciate the time and care that McKinley took in describing the animal team, especially.

I recommend it to fans of McKinley. I'm not sure what else to say. This isn't her best work, but ranks happily in the upper-middle. It also doesn't fail to make the point like Pegasus.

Books for 2013
27th-Sep-2013 07:13 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the review! I was very curious about this one.
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