Book Review: The Shadow Club by Neal Shusterman

For Jared and Cheryl, nothing is worse than coming in second. Their idea to form a club of second-best kids seems harmless at first. But when the Shadow Club members start playing anonymous practical jokes on each other's rivals, things quickly spiral out of control, and innocent people get hurt. This chilling page-turner about the effects of underlying resentment on a high school population is more timely now than when it was first published.
I am a huge fan of Neal Shusterman, having loved Unwind and Bruiser, so I thought I'd feel the same way about The Shadow Club.  Sadly, I did not. The Shadow Club was just okay for me, nowhere nearly as good as Unwind or Bruiser.  

The Shadow Club is about two fourteen year-old friends who are tired of being second-best.  Jared and Cheryl decide to form a club comprised of kids who are always second-best.  They name the club The Shadow Club and pull seemingly harmless pranks on their rivals, pranks that seem innocent enough at first, but soon escalate into dangerous acts.  The crux of the book is how quickly things get out of control and who is ultimately responsible for the pranks.

I've noticed that Shusterman's books tend to have a central theme and message.  The Shadow Club was (sort of) about bullying.  At least that's the feeling I got from it.  I appreciate a positive message in a book, and I really enjoy that aspect of Shusterman's writing.  However, The Shadow Club had a middle-grade feel to it that left me unsatisfied.  It was written from a male point of view, which was another problem: reading YA narrated by a male never works for me.  Jared seemed very immature and I had a hard time identifying with him. 

This will in no way keep me from seeking out and reading more of Shusterman's work.  If you are new to Shusterman, don't start with The Shadow Club.  Instead, you should read Unwind.  Unwind is an excellent read, and is one of my top five favorite books of all time.  In fact, just talking about Unwind in this review has made me want to read it again!               


  1. I struggle with Male POVs too. I don't know why, but I've noticed that books which feature alternating male/female POVs work much better for me than just male alone.

    Sorry, this book didn't work for you. I think there needs to be more books with encouraging messages to teens about bullying, but I imagine they are hard to pull off successfully because if the author goes too much one way, than it seems like they are preaching.

    Thanks for the Unwind suggestion. I'll check it out on goodreads now. :)

  2. Like you, I also loved "Bruiser" and "Unwind", but I didn't get around to reading this one. Sorry, you found it a bit disappointing. I also have a hard time with a lot of middle grade boy narrators. The humor and maturity level is a bit too young for me. Do give "Everlost" a shot. It's got a really weird setting. I enjoyed the first book but haven't read the next two books in that series.

  3. I could relate to the child who made puppets. A male POV worked well for me, because at the time, I was a nine year old boy.

  4. There aren't many books w/ male POV that I really enjoy, but I have to say Unwind is one of my favorites. I didn't like Unwholly as much though. Have you tried Shusterman's Everlost series? I really liked those. I think I'll skip this one. Great review!

  5. I thought the POV of Jared's was the best he could have chosen. This book had tons of suspense and I strongly recommend reading it. I'm not sure why you guys don't like it.

    1. I just read the book with my class and i don't get ether why people don't like it


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