Series: Guards of the Shadowlands #1
Published by Amazon Children's (10.16.2012)
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: eBook, 433 pages
Source: I own it
A week ago, seventeen-year-old Lela Santos’s best friend, Nadia, killed herself. Today, thanks to a farewell ritual gone awry, Lela is standing in paradise, looking upon a vast gated city in the distance—hell. No one willingly walks through the Suicide Gates, into a place smothered in darkness and infested with depraved creatures. But Lela isn’t just anyone—she’s determined to save her best friend’s soul, even if it means sacrificing her eternal afterlife.
As Lela struggles to find Nadia, she’s captured by the Guards, enormous, not-quite-human creatures that patrol the dark city’s endless streets. Their all-too-human leader, Malachi, is unlike them in every way except one: his deadly efficiency. When he meets Lela, Malachi forms his own plan: get her out of the city, even if it means she must leave Nadia behind. Malachi knows something Lela doesn’t—the dark city isn’t the worst place Lela could end up, and he will stop at nothing to keep her from that fate.
This book will get under your skin. When I wasn’t reading it, I wanted to be. I gobbled this book up in two days, and it only took me that long because I had to work both days! I was completely engrossed because the concept for this book is amazing. It’s deliciously dark, but more than that, it’s 100% unique. I’ve never read anything quite like it!
I looooved the setting. It has this dark and gritty feel (picture Silent Hill after the sirens), that stayed true to where it was: Hell. The world building was fabulous! It painted a vivid picture in my head of what the Shadowlands looked like. We also get a good understanding of the world itself throughout the book, not in an info dump. There were snippets of information here and there to help you understand what was going on. Things were explained properly when they actually needed to be.
The idea of the Mazikin was pretty awesome, too. They were totally creepy! Their background was very interesting and they made great villains! Something even creepier: The dark tower. Um, walls made out of people? (And TVs attached to walls via umbilical cord?)
The only thing I loved more than the setting was Malachi. Ohhhh my!!! When I said ‘this book will get under your skin,’ really I meant Malachi will get under your skin. He got under mine, anyway. I found myself drawn to him, intrigued by him, from the moment he arrived on scene! Move over, Lela, he’s mine! You probably all know by now that I am NOT a fan of romance. This was one of the few romances that made me feel all swoony and gooey inside! I loved the development between Lela and Malachi. It had that glorious slow burn that I love (no really, I almost spontaneously combusted), and while they both felt something for each other pretty quickly, it wasn’t instalove. View Spoiler »In fact, by the time they FINALLY kissed I was about ready to rip my hair out. Or melt into a puddle. « Hide Spoiler It says something about the romance of a book if it has me wanting for them to kiss.
I loved the characters. They all felt very realistic and had a life of their own. Ana was a badass!! (Am I the only one who immediately pictured Zoe Saldana?!) View Spoiler »I was surprised when her death actually affected me. I liked her, but I didn’t realize I’d grown that attached to her! « Hide Spoiler Lela was a pretty decent MC, too. She was strong, but she still had her weaknesses. Even though she was a badass, she still had her moments were she broke down. She was believable, and her flaws made her realistic. I do have to say that she royally pissed me off there toward the end, though. View Spoiler »She seriously thought Malachi was going to hurt Nadia? Seriously?! I was very disappointed (and disgusted) that he knew her so well that he was able to predict that she’d sacrifice herself for her friend, yet she jumped to that conclusion about him. She obviously didn’t know him as well as she thought she did! I understand she has trust issues but he’s never shown her anything but respect and caring and therefore NEVER given her reason to think he has anything but the best of intentions. (Even more reason why he belongs with me instead of her ;D) « Hide Spoiler
“Some people can’t keep fighting. Some people want to escape. Some people are not ready – are not able – to find a way to deal with what’s in front of them. Sometimes there’s no one to help them. Sometimes they don’t know how to ask for help. Sometimes it feels like there’s no choice to end it. No other way out. And sometimes it’s impossible to see past that.”
There was also an underlying tough issue in this book: Depression. While I can’t relate to the suicide part, the depression side of it really struck home because I’ve been there. There were a few times when they were talking about it that my eyes started stinging because I get it.
The ONLY complaint I have is that the prose grated on my nerves a little bit. It felt a bit…sophomoric. It did get better, but in the beginning there were things that I found annoying about the writing style. I didn’t write any of them down because I wanted so badly to overlook them (since all 3 of my book quadruplets rating this book 5 stars), but it was still something in the back of my mind, and unfortunately that’s what ultimately kept me from giving this book 5 stars too :(View Spoiler »While the ending would have affected me more if it had left it with Lela and Malachi being separated, I’m glad they were able to be together. I’m not usually a fan of too-perfect HEAs, but it made me feel all warm and fuzzy! « Hide Spoiler
Writing style: 3/5
Overall rating: 4.5/5