In this suspenseful futuristic story, Shade's Children form a resistance movement to stave off savage mutant creatures.
Through a projector that can bend dimensions, the alien Overlords freeze time and make anyone over 14 vanish off the face of the Earth. What is left is a world of terrified children who are herded into dormitories, where their brains are eventually harvested and wired into the circuitry of the Overlord's willing beasts. Over the years, a handful of teens have found a home in the secret submarine base of Shade, a computer-generated holographic program and the only nurturing adult sensibility on the planet. The narrative follows the escape of Gold-Eye, a boy with precognizance, and his subsequent recruitment and training with Ella, Drum, and Ninde, who comprise one of Shade's crackerjack squads. Predictably, the group is involved in a mission to take out the Overlord's projector; Nix deftly weaves in a few surprising plot twists, and the teens must grapple not only with betrayal, but the loss of half their team in battle. The author pulls off a happy ending without straining credibility largely through the characters' sacrificea satisfying end to an action-adventure with uncommon appeal outside the genre.
- HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication date:
- Sales rank:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.46(w) x 7.76(h) x 0.91(d)
- Age Range:
- 13 Years
Read an Excerpt
Gold-Eye crouched in a corner under two birdshit-caked blankets, watching the fog streaming through the windows. Sixteen gray waterfalls of wet air cascading in slow motion. One for each of the windows in the railway carriage.
But the fog had only a small part of his attention, something his eyes looked at while he strained his ears trying to work out what was happening outside. The carriage was his third hideout that day, and the Trackers had been all too quick to find the other two.
They were out there now, whistling in the mist; whistling the high-pitched, repetitive notes that meant they'd lost their prey. Temporarily . . .
Gold-Eye shivered and ran his finger along the sharpened steel spike resting across his drawn-up knees. Cold steel was the only thing that could kill the Overlords' creatures‹some of the weaker ones, anyway, like Trackers. Not Myrmidons . . .
As if on cue, a deeper, booming noise cut through the Trackers' whistles. Myrmidon battle sound. Either the force behind the Trackers was massing to sweep the area, or they'd encountered the forces of a rival Overlord.
No, that would be too much to ask for -- and the whistles were changing too, showing that the Trackers had found a trail. . . . His trail . . .
With that thought Gold-Eye's Change Vision suddenly gripped him, showing him a picture of the unpleasantly close future, the soon-to-be-now.
Doors slid open at each end of the carriage, forced apart by metal-gauntleted hands four times the size of Gold-Eye's own. Fog no longer fell in lazy swirls, but danced and spiraled crazily as huge shapes lumbered in, moving to the pile of blankets. . . .
Gold-Eye didn't wait to see more. He came out of the vision and took the escape route he'd planned months before, when he'd first found the carriage. Lifting a trapdoor in the floor, he dropped down, down to the cold steel rails.
Back in the carriage, the doors shrieked as they were forced open, and Gold-Eye both heard and felt the drumbeat of Myrmidon hobnails on the steel floor above his head.
Ignoring the new grazes on his well-scabbed knees, he began to crawl across the concrete ties, keeping well under the train. The Trackers would wait for the Myrmidons now, and Myrmidons were often slow to grasp what had happened. He probably had three or four minutes to make his escape.
The train was a long one, slowly rusting in place between Central and Redtree stations. Like all the others, it was completely intact, if a little timeworn. It had just stopped where it was, all those years ago.
Not that Gold-Eye knew it as a form of transport. It was just part of the fixed landscape to him, one of the many hiding places he moved among. Gold-Eye didn't have memories of a different time, except for the hazy recollection of life in the Dorms -- and his escape with two older children. Both of them long since taken . . .
At the end of the train, he got down on his belly under the locomotive, steel spike clutched in his fist, white knuckles showing through the ingrained dirt.
Peep, peep, peep, peep, peep, peep . . .
The Trackers were on the move again, spreading out to search. It sounded like a trio on each side of the train, coming toward him.
Gold-Eye pictured them in his head, trying to get his Change Vision to show him exactly where they were.
But the Change Vision came and went when it chose, and couldn't be controlled. This time it didn't show him anything -- but a memory arose unbidden, a super-fast slide show of Trackers flashing through his mind.
Thin, spindly stick-humans that looked like half-melted plastic soldiers. Bright, bulbous eyes, too large for their almost-human eye sockets. Long pointed noses that were almost all red-flared nostril . . .
They could smell a human out with those noses, Gold-Eye knew. No matter where he hid.
That thought was foremost as Gold-Eye listened again. But he couldn't work out where the Trackers were, so he edged forward till he was almost out from under the train and could get his knees and feet up like a sprinter on the starting blocks. It was about thirty yards to the embankment wall. If he could cross that open space and get up it, the Trackers would go past to look for an easier way up -- and Myrmidons were very slow climbers.
At this time of day that left only Wingers to worry about, and they would be roosting in City Tower, avoiding the fog.
Then the Trackers whistled again, giving their found signal -- and Myrmidons boomed in answer, frighteningly close.
With that boom, Gold-Eye shot out like a rabbit, jinking and zigzagging over the railway lines, frantic with a terrible realization.
The Myrmidons had crept through the train!
He could hear their boots crashing onto the gravel around the tracks as the huge creatures jumped down from the lead carriage, the bass shouts of their battle cries joining the frenzied whistles of the Trackers.
Heart pounding, face white with sudden exertion, Gold-Eye hit the embankment at speed, reaching head height before he even needed to take his first hold. Then, as his feet scrabbled to take him higher, he reached out . . . and slipped.
The fog had laid a film of moisture on the old stones of the embankment, and in his panic Gold-Eye had run to one of the hardest spots to climb. His fingers couldn't find any cracks between the stones. . . .
Slipping, his feet touched bottom, and he added his own wail of despair to the awful noise of the creatures behind him.
Soon the Myrmidons would surround him, silver nets shooting out to catch him in their sticky tracery. Then a Winger would come to take him away. Back to the Dorms. Or if he was old enough . . . straight to the Meat Factory.Shade's Children. Copyright © by Garth Nix. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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