The Shadow Club

The Shadow Club

4.3 18
by Neal Shusterman
     
 

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The Shadow Club starts simply enough: the kids who are tired of being second-best get together and, for the first time, talk about how they feel. But soon the members decide to play practical jokes on the first-place winners they envy, and things begin to spin dangerously out of control.

"This is a provocative novel . . . The plot is ingeniously simple and

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Overview

The Shadow Club starts simply enough: the kids who are tired of being second-best get together and, for the first time, talk about how they feel. But soon the members decide to play practical jokes on the first-place winners they envy, and things begin to spin dangerously out of control.

"This is a provocative novel . . . The plot is ingeniously simple and the course of events compelling. Brisk enough to snag a popular audience, but forceful in impact, it will leave readers thinking." (Booklist, starred review)

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This engrossing book portrays how easily even ``good'' kids can lose control of themselves and do cruel and horrible things. Seven junior-high-school students (all ``second-bests'') led by narrator Jared and best friend Cheryl form the Shadow Club to get back at the ``unbeatables'' who make their lives miserable. Revenge tastes very sweet when they play humiliating practical jokes on all the school's first-bests, including track star Austin, Jared's nemesis. Any qualms that Jared has about the club get tossed aside when he's acknowledged as president. And, though he calls a temporary halt to the pranks, someone starts playing really dangerous tricks. Events come to a head when Austin is seriously injured. Sure that school weirdo Tyson is the culprit, the Shadow Club captures him. Jared leads the others in beating him up, then almost causes the boy's death. In the thrilling denouement, Jared learns where the blame really lies. Shusterman vividly conveys the overwhelming qualities of violent emotions and chillingly shows how a group of ``nice'' people can become an ugly, vengeful mob. Ages 12-up. (May)
Children's Literature
Jared Mercer is a good kid in high school who runs track. Also on the track team is Jared's worst enemy, Austin Pace (whom Jared calls "L'Austin Space"). Every year Austin humiliates Jared by beating him in lots of races. One afternoon, Jared and his best friend Cheryl are sitting in their tree house talking about the person they hate the most. Cheryl says the person she hates the most is her cousin Rebecca because Rebecca gets to sing at all the weddings and acts like Miss Perfect. Jared, of course, says he hates Austin because he always shows off his shoes that never seem to get dirty. When Cheryl asks Jared "Do you wish Austin had never been born?" Jared answers, "Yes." Jared asks Cheryl "Do you wish Rebecca had never been born?" to which she also answers affirmatively. As a result, Jared and Cheryl talk about forming a club for second bests only—the Shadow Club. To overcome boredom, the Shadow Club members decide to pull pranks on the "unbeatables." Soon the pranks escalate. Who's really doing what? Is the wrong person blamed? This is the first of the "Shadow Club" series. Written as a mystery, it keeps the reader searching for "who dunit?" This is an easy book to read, but since the characters are in high school, they sometimes use language not suitable for elementary children. 2002 (orig. 1988), Dutton Children's Books/Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers,
— Elliott Cash
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up A group of competitive high-school students, all second best in their areas of talent, form a secret club in order to pull anonymous practical jokes on their rivals. The pranks, which at first are humiliating but harmless, escalate to the point that they result in vandalism and injury and nearly cause a student's death. Shusterman's focus is on how the actions of these teens create a power that feeds on a previously hidden cruel or evil side of their personalities. This is strong material, and sections of the book have a punch that matches the subject. The dialogue of the teens, their concerns, and especially their feelings, are on target. Unfortunately, most of the book lacks suspense. The club members believe that an unpopular student who has eavesdropped on them is responsible for some of the more vicious pranks, but this is such an obvious red herring that the drama of the situation is lost. This book is neither as complex nor as well written as Robert Cormier's novels, but as its premise and tone hold interest, The Shadow Club may appeal to Cormier's fans and those readers who are not yet ready for his books. David Gale, ``School Library Journal''

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780142300947
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
02/28/2002
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
194,245
Product dimensions:
4.25(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.55(d)
Age Range:
12 - 16 Years

Meet the Author

Neal Shusterman is an award-winning author and screenwriter.  He lives in Southern California with his four children.

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