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Monday, April 25, 2011

The Shadow Project (The Shadow Project #1) by Herbie Brennan

The Shadow ProjectDanny Lipman is a thief . . . until one night he robs the wrong house. He inadvertently breaks into the headquarters of the Shadow Project, a secret government organization where teenage spies are trained to leave their bodies, using astral projection to travel around the world on deadly missions.
Danny is captured, but the Project leaders quickly realize he has a special gift. And when a key operative—the director's daughter, Opal—goes missing, he is offered a choice: join the Shadow Project or go to jail.

Danny joins and is quickly sent to investigate the Project's current target: a worldwide terrorist organization known as the Sword of Wrath. But as he gets deeper in, he discovers both the Project and the Sword of Wrath are far more than they seem. Danny and his fellow operatives are caught up in an ancient supernatural conflict and will have to learn how to survive in a world without boundaries of space or time, where the wrong choice could be their last.
First Look: *****  I won this in one of those Inkpop Weekly Challenges. The cover is so cool, and the premise is awesome and unique.

Setting: ***** 
I could have gone either way, here. It was set mostly in England, which is a place I'd like to go, but I never really got a feel for it.

Characters: *****  
I liked Danny. He had a definite personality, and he was well fleshed-out. Michael and Opal had a bit of depth, but not as much. Everyone else was very, very flat. Except Dorothy. She was hilarious. I nearly laughed out loud when she said "There's no place like home." I still can't figure out if that was intentional.

Plot: ****
I loved it. I really did. The action started on page one, and did not stop until the end. I did feel, though, like the whole thing was really rushed. There was no time to take anything in. It all happened too fast. Don't get me wrong; I loved the amount of action, but there was nothing to balance it out. The climax felt rushed in particular, and the ending didn't have a sense of finality to it.

Uniqueness: ***** 
I wasn't sure what to expect with the whole out-of-body-experience thing. I was pleasantly surprised. I mean, how often do you get to read a YA spy thriller...with a paranormal twist?

Writing: *****
It wasn't really anything special, but it flowed smoothly. There was never anything to distract me from the story.

I loved the paranormal twist.  Teenage spies trained to leave their bodies and use astral projection to go on missions?  Let's see Spy Kids top that one.  And besides, how can you not love the old grandma?

Danny was a little too quick to trust the Shadow Project.  And vice versa, the Shadow Project was a little too quick to take him on.  It didn't feel realistic.

Total Score: ****
This was exciting. I practically inhaled it. It will appeal to paranormal* fans, as well as people who like thrillers of the Alex Rider variety (but this is better!). It was a bit rushed, but I still very much enjoyed it; in fact, I'll probably hand this one down to my brother**. A solid four stars.

*Paranormal in the traditional ghosts and spirits sense. Not the Edward-I-love-your-vampireness-you-smell-good-I'm-obsessed-with-you-and-your-glitter sense.

*Who is reading Artemis Fowl right now. I take my recommending very seriously, of course. :)


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