If you have managed to make it this far without any spoilers on this book, I congratulate you. There is a reason people are talking about it. Even in the broadest strokes, it’s impossible for me not to convey that things go really wrong here. That doesn’t mean everyone hated The Shadows. To the contrary, it’s got its fair share of 5 star reviews floating around. You’ll find readers who love rolling around in the kind of misery only “true love” can precipitate. You’ll find others who find beauty in despair. And there are still others who feel like JR Ward could rub dog shit around on a piece of white paper and call it art. I fall into none of those categories.
To explain how this book is a failure for me, I am going to have to tell you why. I’m not going to spoil every single thing about it, but I am going to talk about the big twist at the end that has split the reading community. Here is your last chance to look away.
JR Ward kills the heroine. She is still dead when the book is over and she is not coming back to life. They burned her corpse and sent her off into the Fade. It’s the forever kind of dead. And for that, I say JR Ward has broken her covenant with readers. Romance books are supposed to end with a working relationship between the hero and heroine. There is supposed to be happiness there. One isn’t supposed to be dead while the other is left a shadow of himself. No pun intended there. I’m too mad.
I’ve actually seen other people claim that these books aren’t romance; that they are more urban fantasy. To that, I call bullshit. Yes, Ward has broadened the scope of the series to multiple POVs (too many) but each book follows a core romance. Remember how much it sucked when she killed Wellsie? And she was a secondary character. This is so much worse, and honestly, has about a quarter of the emotional impact. I didn’t cry. I wasn’t even tempted to cry. I was too annoyed. The move was so very wrong that it pulled me out of the story entirely, just wondering WTF? Meanwhile, we’ve got iAm percolating a very second-string romance with a ridiculously predictable outcome, and that is supposed to be satisfying? IT’S NOT.
I can’t even blame the ending as the only problem in the book. Rhage is prominently featured here, which some readers may be excited about. But I swear, he acts like he is losing his marbles. This plot thread recurs over and over and then it is totally dropped with no explanation. It made the character look like he had a personality disorder and then it had no impact on the plot. (And don’t get me started on his self-love in the pantry.) We also get a Scribe Virgin sighting; then she is dropped like a hot potato.
The romance, itself, between Trez and Selena (before Ward killed her) was kind of meh. I had some issues with how she got so modern so fast. But my real complaint was in the melodrama. It didn’t ring true. Maybe that’s another reason why my emotions weren’t engaged.
The most interesting parts for me were in the few cut-scenes with Qhuinn’s brother, Luchas. He is a messed up guy and with good reason. –And in the b-plot of Xcor and Layla. I feel something there. I liked where it was going, until he stomped all over it with a hooker.
In the end of it all, I was just left tired… and disappointed. This is not what I signed up for as I committed myself to these 576 pages. After wading through all of the predictable, trite, and even downright ridiculous parts of the book, I should have had something to show for it. A happy freaking ending. Instead, I got a big, fat fail.
*ARC provided by publisher
Click to purchase: Amazon
by JR Ward
Release Date: March 31, 2015