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The Key to Survival
Rests in the Hands of
Shade's Children

In a futuristic urban wasteland, evil Overlords have decreed that no child shall live a day past his fourteenth birthday. On that Sad Birthday, the child is the object of an obscene harvest resulting in the construction of a machinelike creature whose sole purpose is to kill.

The mysterious Shade -- once a man, but now more like the machines he fights -- recruits the few children fortunate enough to escape. With luck, cunning, and skill, four of Shade's children come closer than any to discovering the source of the Overlords' power -- and the key to their downfall. But the closer the children get, the more ruthless Shade seems to become ...

Topics: Dystopia, Post-Apocalyptic, Robots, Survival, Death, Friendship, Rebellion, Futuristic, Adventurous, Dark, Suspenseful, Futurism, and Speculative Fiction

Published: HarperTeen an imprint of HarperCollins on Mar 2, 2010
ISBN: 9780062003171
List price: $5.99
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very good. will read again.read more
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Great book with a terrible ending. If only they'd worked a little bit harder on that it could have been excellent.read more
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70 pages in; giving up. The plot is either scattered or just uninteresting; I'm having a hard time feeling like I've gotten as far as the plot of the story yet, and I feel like 70 pages is enough time to have found it if it were there.read more
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very good. will read again.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Great book with a terrible ending. If only they'd worked a little bit harder on that it could have been excellent.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
70 pages in; giving up. The plot is either scattered or just uninteresting; I'm having a hard time feeling like I've gotten as far as the plot of the story yet, and I feel like 70 pages is enough time to have found it if it were there.
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[Possible spoilers] Sometime in the near future a phenomenon has occurred instantaneously removing all adults from the world leaving the children at the mercy of a mysterious group they refer to as Overlords. Some children escape their fate as mere body parts bred to become soldiers in the battles these Overlords have against each other. Their "protector" is Shade, whose personality resides in a computer and sends these children out on missions to learn more about the Overlords and possibly how to defeat them. Now, what I've just given you is much more explanatory than the back of the book reveals, and this information is just dribbled out throughout the story. Chapters alternate between the action of the tale and logs and records kept in Shade's computer. At first these serve to set the scene and give more information about this odd world we've been dropped into. As we progress, though, and more is revealed about the nature of Shade as well as the Overlords, action actually begins to take place in the computer world. I found some of these chapters an enhancement to the story, but quite a few, particularly in the middle, seemed as though Nix couldn't think of anything else to reveal through this device. The children seem less like characters and more devices for moving the plot forward. Shade is the most developed and dynamic, but also the least comprehensible. This is a shorter book than I'm used to from Nix, so it's possible he sacrificed some characterization in favor of a lower page count. Except for the aforementioned archive chapters, the book is almost all suspenseful, dangerous, mission-y action. These kids are in danger almost constantly, and with as much is made of how many children failed to survive similar missions in the past, this seems rather unrealistic. Of course, you wouldn't have any characterization at all if your protagonists die in the first chapter, but the author might have compensated for that by not listing the loads of previous "lost" teams. Overall, though, the book was entertaining to read, and the complete unbelievability of the whole thing can be overlooked, particularly by younger readers. I would recommend this more for true young adults who don't tend to be as critical as I am.
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I loved Garth Nix's Sabriel series, The Seventh Tower and The Keys to the Kingdom. This book was kind of similar, but really felt rather different. Very dark and bleak at times. I kept dwelling on the basic premise of the book: one day, everyone over 15 just vanished off the face of the earth. I have two small children, and if that happened, they would die painful deaths due to starvation and neglect. It wasn't the only thing about this book that disturbed me.So I guess that makes it effective, right? I was just left feeling so uncomfortable by the story that I couldn't really enjoy it.
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In a world where death usually comes at 14, where a group of strange monsters created from the bodies of these children fight for a group of masters, some rebels try to fight. With the help of the elusive Shade who exists only as a virtual entity but his motives are suspect. Can the four friend survive, can they find a way to defeat the masters and what happens if they do.
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