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!