Read this if you're in the mood for: world-building, paranormal-that-feels-contemporary, music, romance
Summary (of SHADE): Best. Birthday. Ever. At least, it was supposed to be. With Logan's band playing a critical gig and Aura's plans for an intimate after-party, Aura knows it will be the most memorable night of her boyfriend's life. She never thought it would be his last.
Logan's sudden death leaves Aura devastated. He's gone.
Well, sort of.
Like everyone born after the Shift, Aura can see and hear ghosts. This mysterious ability has always been annoying, and Aura had wanted nothing more than to figure out why the Shift happened so she can undo it. But not with Logan's violet-hued spirit still hanging around. Because dead Logan is almost as real as ever. Almost.
It doesn't help that Aura's new friend Zachary is so understanding—and so very alive. His support means more to Aura than she cares to admit.
As Aura's relationships with the dead and the living grow ever complicated, so do her feelings for Logan and Zachary. Each holds a piece of Aura's heart—and clues to the secret of the Shift.
Read this if you like:
The Curse Workers trilogy / WHITE CAT, Holly Black
Another of my favorite trilogies! Both series are driven by a paranormal/urban fantasy element, but they have a strong contemporary novel feel. Instead of being about a small handful of people discovering a secret about something strange/otherworldly, they're both alternate versions of the real world, in which the entire population knows what's going on.
IF I STAY / WHERE SHE WENT, Gayle Forman
Not the most obvious comparison, but what stands out to me is two commonalities — music (specifically an up-and-coming rock band) and grief. Also, romantic relationships complicated by musical success. Of course, there are HUGE differences between the books, namely SHADE's paranormal plot — plus, IF I STAY packs a more serious emotional punch — but Forman and Smith-Ready both have a love of music that really shines through their writing.
The Rec: From the first chapter of SHADE, the quality of the writing, of the story, of the characters, of the world-building, was immediately apparent. The (very unique) paranormal elements were woven so well into today's world and the life of this average-seeming teenage girl that I nearly believed it was a contemporary novel. And I immediately loved the main character, Aura. It was like I knew her, like her voice and thoughts were some mix of me and every girl friend I had in high school.
And it just got better. From the inventive concept (with it's perfect tension, intriguing mystery, and high stakes) to the realistic, be-my-BFF-please main character, this book was great. And MY GOD did it leave me begging for a sequel. The great news is, both SHIFT and SHINE are excellent, which makes the SHADE trilogy a highly recommended read!
The Caveat: (1) I'm not a fan of the generic "wind in my haaaaaair!" covers. Don't judge; just read. (2) There's a love triangle. (I know, I know!) But this one didn't make me want to throw my book against the wall AT ALL. Aura is torn between the loyalty and love she feels for her recently deceased-and-ghosted boyfriend and the developing butterflies for her friend Zachary, who is also hot and Scottish. It WORKS.
You should read this because: SHADE was released during the YA paranormal romance boom in 2009, and though its quality was top-notch, it never quite got the recognition it deserved (though its fan base is quite passionate!). Now that we've had our long break from paranormal books, it's time to check out this stellar trilogy!