by Jennifer Brown
To be published on January 19, 2016
by Katherine Tegen Books
Source: eARC from the publisher for review
Synopsis from Goodreads: Nikki Kill does not see the world like everyone else. In her eyes, happiness is pink, sadness is a mixture of brown and green, and lies are gray. Thanks to a rare phenomenon called synesthesia, Nikki’s senses overlap, in a way that both comforts and overwhelms her. Always an outsider, just one ‘D’ shy of flunking out, Nikki’s life is on the fast track to nowhere until the night a mysterious call lights her phone up bright orange—the color of emergencies. It’s the local hospital. They need Nikki to identify a Jane Doe who is barely hanging on to life after a horrible attack. The victim is Peyton Hollis, a popular girl from Nikki’s school who Nikki hardly knows. One thing is clear: Someone wants Peyton dead. But why? And why was Nikki’s cell the only number in Peyton’s phone? As she tries to decipher the strange kaleidoscope of clues, Nikki finds herself thrust into the dark, glittering world of the ultra-rich Hollis family, and drawn towards Peyton’s handsome, never-do-well older brother Dru. While Nikki’s colors seem to help her unravel the puzzle, what she can’t see is that she may be falling into a trap. The only truth she can be sure of is that death is a deep, pulsing crimson.My take: Overall, I quite enjoyed this. Shade Me definitely had some great elements, but also some aspects that might not appeal to every reader.
My favorite part of Shade Me was definitely the glossy/gritty LA setting, which will appeal to those who love movies like L.A. Confidential and Chinatown or TV shows like Veronica Mars. I thought the book's setting and its overall mysterious/sinister vibe were really well-done.
As the synopsis indicated, Nikki has synesthesia, a rare disorder that causes her to mix feelings with colors. (I'm probably not explaining that accurately or well, but you can Google a better explanation.) For me, this didn't add too much to the story and, in fact, served to tip me off (spoiler) about the family connection between Nikki and Peyton (end spoiler.) Nikki's also a kickboxer, which was cool, but I just kept thinking "plot device so that Nikki will be able to kick someone's butt." Yeah, I was right.
Otherwise, Nikki is a bit of a screw-up. After she made a very questionable decision early on in the book, I was worried about how she and I were going to get along. Fortunately, she turned out to be the kind of screw-up character I like: she owns up to her bad ideas and has a sense of humor about her mistakes.
Though others may not agree, I came to like the rather odd romantic vibe of the book. The main character gets a bit of a flirt on with three different guys. But one is an ex, and she only physically acts on her feelings toward one guy. I know it sounds kind of weird for a YA romance, but it worked for me in the context of this book. And I think there's a reason for the rather unconventional romantic structure and that's because this is the first book in a series. That also meant that, while the main mystery was solved, there were some things left unresolved at the end.
tl;dr: I enjoyed this, quirks and all. If you're a fan of Veronica Mars, you should definitely give Shade Me a try!