28 October 2014
Shadowboxer by Tricia Sullivan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Closer to a frustrating 3.5.
Two types of books probably don't get enough play in the YA marketplace right now - books about cagefighting/MMA and the like, and books where the souls of children are being stolen. If you agree, add in some shapeshifting for good measure and Shadowboxer might just be the book for you.
The book follows two stories - one with troubled but talented fighter Jade as she is shipped all over to train as a cage fighter and grow up a bit, and Mya, a girl who is stuck in a mysterious story with a creepy old man in the woods with a bunch of other children. These stories eventually converge into an often-interesting but fairly bizarre conceptual horror novel that has a lot of action and a really interesting mechanic to go along with the ending.
Shadowboxer is ultimately frustrating because, while the Jade story is interesting and mostly well-written, the Mya portions do not provide any clear indication of why we should care or how it's related to Jade's story until much later. The temptation to skim through the parts of the story that ultimately end up being some of the most important is a critical miss in terms of structuring the story, and is a significant drawback keeping this story from becoming great instead of merely good. Thankfully, the Jade parts are quite good, and sprinkle just the right amount of action, humor, and heart to make up for some of the less exciting Mya bits.
Overall, definitely a story worth your time. I didn't think much of any of this would appeal to me, and it ended up doing so even with its flaws.
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