Shade's Children


Garth Nix


Science Fiction / Fantasy


Date Reviewed:

May 10, 2020

hade's Children is shelved on the Young Adult section at the library, but it must be targeted at readers in the upper end of that age bracket. Shade's Children depicts a gruesome, brutal future world, full of monsters and bloodshed. It is the story of children surviving in a violent world after the Change has occurred. The morning of the Change, all adults vanished from Earth, only children under age of 14 remained. The children were rounded up and herded into dorms. When they reach age 14, the children are harvested for body parts, which are then constructed into monsters who fight pointless battles for the amusement of the new Overlords of Earth. If anyone made a movie out of this novel, it would have to be rated R, what with all the gore and horror (and a little bit of sexuality).

Shade's Children starts off with a bang, and the action never stops. It is constant tension and peril. The protagonist is a teenager named Gold-Eye who has managed to escape from the dormitories before his 14th birthday. Gold-Eye is pursued by a host of monsters - Wingers, Ferrets, Trackers, and the dreaded Myrmidons. Gold-Eye has a special ability - he has a sense of pre-cognition, he can see events in the future before they happen. This helps him elude the hunting party, but sometimes you can't escape an overwhelming number of monsters, even if you know where they will be standing a few minutes from now. Gold-eye is trapped. He resolves to go down fighting, rather than be harvested in the Meat Factory, where his body parts will be assembled into a next generation Winger or Ferret.

Gold-Eye is rescued by a small group of teenager who are armed with a grenade. The explosion stuns the monsters, and Gold-Eye clambers up their rope over a wall, and they escape from the angry monsters. This dramatic beginning is how Gold-Eye meets Ninde, Ella, and Drum - a tiny band of humans who also escaped from the dorms. Now these three comrades work for Shade, the last adult human alive. Shade directs all the escaped children in an unceasing, dangerous campaign against the invaders. Each successful mission returns vital information to Shade, as he seeks to understand the power of the Overlords, and what, if any, their vulnerabilities are. Unfortunately, many missions are unsuccessful, and Shade's Children don't live long. But Shade has made the tough choice to risk the children in his care for the greater good of all humanity.

Gold-Eye is permanently assigned to Ella's team. Each of the four has their own special ability. Ninde can read the thoughts of the invaders. Ella, just by thinking of something, can conjure objects, such as grenades, out of thin air. Drum can manipulate objects through telekinesis. There is a mission debriefing after each foray, but almost immediately, the team is sent back out again. There is little down time, Nix never slows down the pace. The team of four venture out on increasingly perilous journeys. Shade keeps thinking up targets in difficult strongholds that contain vital information.

Despite the non-stop action, Nix does develop each of his characters. Ninde, Ella and Drum each are fleshed-out, with fears and personalities.

I didn't give this book five stars because I felt that the ending was quite abrupt. Also, the origins for the Change are never explained, the invasion just happens somehow (are they from another dimension, an Alternate Earth?). I also wish there had been more background on what made Shade be the way he was. But still it is a good read.