Review: The Shadow Girl by Jennifer Archer

The Shadow Girl
Jennifer Archer
Series: None
Release Date: April 9th, 2013
Publisher: HarperTeen
Number of Pages: 336
Rating: 2.5 stars

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Sometimes I forget for an hour or two that she's with me. Sometimes I convince myself that she was only a dream. Or that I'm crazy.

For as long as Lily Winston can remember, she has never been alone. Iris, a shadowy figure who mimics Lily's movements and whispers in her ear, is with her always—but invisible to the rest of the world. Iris is Lily's secret.

But when Lily's father is killed in a tragic accident, his cryptic final words suggest that he and Lily's mother have been keeping secrets of their own. Suddenly, Iris begins pushing Lily more than ever, possessing her thoughts and urging her to put together the pieces of a strange puzzle her father left behind. As she searches for answers, Lily finds herself drawn to Ty Collier, a mysterious new boy in town. Together, Lily and Ty must untangle a web of deception to discover the truth about her family, Iris . . . and Lily's own identity.
It's not a rare occurrence, especially not in young adult, where a book's romance, and the large focus on it, often leads to the entire book's downfall. To even check myself on this, I asked on Twitter which books my followers thought would have been better if it hadn't been for the romance, and I received a wide variety of different answers, ranging from Daughter of Smoke and Bone to The Madman's Daughter.

The Shadow Girl is another book worth adding to that list of books that would have been better had it not been for the romance. Or, in The Shadow Girl's case, romances, neither of which I was a fan. While I thought the mystery aspect to The Shadow Girl was incredibly fun and interesting--although perhaps a bit predictable--I didn't like how the majority of the plot was bogged down by the unnecessary and, to be blunt, just bad love triangle.

One of my biggest pet peeves in young adult is when the plot is thrown under the bus to make way for the romance, and that is only more frustrating when the plot is one that I actually like--so that's a check for The Shadow Girl in regards to frustration. Then there's another check in regards to frustration for The Shadow Girl, given the fact that both of those romances stem at a completely inappropriate moment--shortly after the main character's father's death, and one even at his funeral!

That's two checks for frustration concerning The Shadow Girl's romance. But then we add a third, given the fact that both romances arise spontaneously (though not exactly insta-love, because there is a little bit of development for one party), and are both rather cliche--one love interest being the mysterious new boy who knows more things about the main character's past than even she knows, and then the other love interest, the main character's best friend for years, whom she's only now realizing she has feelings for.

And then there's the fourth, and last check for frustration, that check being the fact that the resolution of the love triangle was painfully predictable, and was evident from the moment we met the first love interest. And while I did like one of the love interests (the mysterious new boy, surprisingly), I absolutely did not like the incredibly annoying, jealous, and whiny character that was the other love interest. And as for the main character herself, I didn't like her nor dislike her--she came off as rash and cold throughout a majority of the novel, and was rude to her mother in awful ways just after the death of her father, and while I could bring myself to understand why she was so angry, I couldn't bring myself to like her as a character because of those aforementioned points.

This review is not what I would exactly classify as conventional for me, and admittedly is a bit more focused on the romance than the plot, but then I guess you can say my review resembles The Shadow Girl itself in that sense. With an interesting and mostly well-written mystery, The Shadow Girl could have easily been a book to receive four stars from me, but due to the large focus on the romance and the lack of a connection I had with a majority of the characters, I am left unfortunately disappointed by this novel.


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