Ren Sharpe was abducted at fourteen and chosen by the mysterious F.A.T.E. Center to become a Shadow: the fearless and unstoppable guardian of a future leader. Everything she held dear—her family, her home, her former life—is gone forever.
Ren survives four years of training, torture, and misery, in large part thanks to Junie, a fellow F.A.T.E. abductee who started out as lost and confused as she did. She wouldn’t admit it was possible to find love in a prison beyond imagining, but what she feels for Junie may just be the closest thing to it.
At eighteen they part ways when Ren receives her assignment: find and protect college science student Gareth Young, or die trying. Life following a college nerd is uneventful, until an attack on Gareth forces Ren to track down the only person she can trust. When she and Junie discover that the F.A.T.E. itself might be behind the attacks, even certain knowledge of the future may not be enough to save their kidnappers from the killing machines they created.
Spies, thieves and assassins - when I was a kid I ate fantasy books filled with these three as if they were going out of style. Which really it was unusual to find an age appropriate book with any of those professions being the main character. Now I toss a shoe and I'll land on at least four books in the young adult genre with any and all.
This was one of the books I picked up at ALA Midwinter this past January. I didn't go into the show thinking about this book, but the coverart (and the publisher rep) sold me on the idea. Told in a first person format, we follow Ren as she goes around doing shadowy things for a Shadowy group before she ultimately decides to ditch it all for what she feels is morally right. Or something akin to that.
The problem was that Ren had the most annoying tone ever conceived. She was part cocky, part snide, part obnoxious and topped with an undercurrent of poor me. Shine introduces us to Ren's present life by first having Ren tell us her backstory, THEN we get to what she's currently up to. Sort of. I got a little confused with the timing in the book as Ren would sometimes backtrack in her story with little warning.
Also as I was expecting an action type spy thriller paramilitary sort of book I wasn't as keen on the romance that budded all over the place. Romance with Junie, another operative and who is strictly off limits. Quasi-romance with Gareth, her charge to protect. Friction between the guys. Friction between Ren and the guys. Friction between the Shadowy Operation who doesn't want her close to either guy.
Honestly the book didn't need it. Why this incessant need to make a close bond between a guy and girl lead to romance? If Ren defied all things because she had a deep friendship with the guys, the plot would have gone just the same. Shadowy Operation would have STILL been against her forming ANY bond and used it against her. Shine didn't have me believing that the romance she felt for the guys was catalyst enough to make her question everything.
I found the idea of F.A.T.E. to be intriguing--awful way to recruit, but also horribly effective if you go by Junie and Ren. I've always been a moral grey area sort of girl when it came to my governments and espionage, so it makes sense to me that if such a thing was possible it would be exploited and used.
I definitely think this is a solid read if you're a fan of such things. And as history has shown my intolerance for certain narrative voices