CSFF Blog Tour: John Olson's Shade

Day Three of the tour, Day Two for me. Where was I? Oh, yes, about to write a review of John Olson's newest novel, Shade.

Okay, so, much was made of Shade's scariness. Reading just the endorsements inside the front cover is entertaining. My husband snagged the book first (as he often does; his reading time is more plentiful than mine--so unfair!), and kept looking at me through the first half of the book. "When's it going to get scary?" After he finished it, he liked it well enough but his verdict: "Wasn't scary." Then Son One and Son Two read it, both before me. (More unfairness.) Although it was a "can't put it down" read for both of them, their assessment was also, "Not really scary." (Both agreed that the hospital scene early on was creepy. I concur!)

Finally it was my turn. Sigh. I hate starting into a book with high expectations and with the family's opinions floating around my head, but I was determined to just read and enjoy it.

Then, something strange happened. A friend who's been struggling hugely with her circumstances and her faith had, on my recommendation, picked up a copy at the library, and had started reading it, as well. About the time I got a couple of chapters in, she called me on the phone with the bizarre question, "Can you do what these people are doing??" Meaning, of course, the characters--the sensing each other's emotions, etc. This provided a really ... um, neat? interesting? opportunity to talk about whether or not supernatural gifts are real for the here and now (I'm NOT going into that in THIS blog post, I assure you!) and to talk further about her faith struggles.

After that phone conversation, I stayed up way too late reading (I also suffer from "can'tputitdown-itis") and ... well ... honestly I didn't find it all that scary either. (Too much Brandilyn Collins and Dean Koontz, maybe?) But I wanted to keep reading, and I wanted MORE. Lots more. I felt a bit cheated at the end because some pretty serious loose ends, in my opinion, weren't tied up--but then I found out that John is writing a sequel. (YAY!!!!) I also found a particular plot twist near the end a bit implausible because, as one reviewer put it, by this time we know the character so well that we can't really believe ill of him. But that was a minor quibble. I enjoyed the writing, loved the characters (although I'd liked to have more development on Hailey), really loved the storyworld and found the premise absolutely fascinating.

I think I've commented before that I have to be careful when reviewing books by authors I know and like as people, because I tend to lose my objectivity. Take my opinion accordingly, but I believe this is a very worthwhile read!

I could say more, but time and space fail me. :-) Scroll down to yesterday's post for the list of others who have read and commented on this book.


  1. I also didnt' find it scary, but I did find it had a nice feel of paranoia (being pursued, watched, etc) which suited the theme.

    I didn't like Hailey. I loved Melchi and Athena. And I also found it a page-turner. :)

    I don't think we're supposed to believe that "plot twist" thingie. I think we're supposed to know while the bad guys aren't. But I could be wrong.

    It had some weaknesses, no doubt--the characterization of Hailey and Boggs and Mark. Some inconsistent prose (some places had really nice "artsy" prose that just faded into average prose).

    I will definitely read number two. I'd like to see Melchi again...:) Maybe Hailey will get better.

  2. Mer, I think you have a thing for Melchi ;)

    Really good points. I was waiting for it to get scary too, but it ended up being a real page turner.

    Sensing emotion..the gift of discernment gone haywire? Interesting.

  3. So interesting. Many (all?) of the CSFF reviewers didn't find the book scary. The hospital scene was the worst for me, and when I thought she died, only to find out she didn't, well, that was it. I was sure nothing bad would happen to her from then on.

    The plot twist? I only momentarily wondered if it was true. However, I was concerned that Hailey would believe it. And who knows what she might do then.

    The problem was, that plot line sort of clashed with the romance angle. It doesn't really work, I don't think, to have her be afraid of someone, thinking he might be a delusional psychopath, while at the same time falling in love with him.


  4. Mir definitely has a thing for Melchi. :-) But, I loved his character too!

    And Becky, I see your point, but actually LIKED the romance angle and think John balanced those two pretty well! I agree w/ Mir that John probably didn't intend the *reader* to be taken in by that plot twist. I've heard one person say that there's a lot in this story that you just have to take on faith--that the author knows what he's doing, go along for the ride and it'll all come together--and I can totally see that, especially now that I know there's a sequel. I was merely recording my initial reactions before I knew another story segment was coming.

    And I canNOT wait for that sequel! Even weeks later, I still think about the story and the characters!

  5. Read the sample chapter from Amazon on my Kindle.

    Verdict: Not scary.

    Will I buy it? Probably not. Not quite as dark as I was hoping for. Better than some CBA stuff, but still not enough for me to convert. I've been a little too badly burned by some of Ted Dekker's stuff to consider putting down money at the moment. Sorry, Shannon.

    Would I rather work on Judges? Yep. Fourth script upcoming.

  6. Yep, I figured you'd not think it dark enough, hence the reason for my own "not scary" comments in the post above. :-) Although, there were moments that reminded me a lot of Judges! I'm of the opinion that the suspense/thriller aspect should have been emphasized a little more than the "horror" aspect ... but hey, nobody put me in charge of the marketing and that's probably a good thing!!!

    It IS a good story, though! And I'm glad to hear you're still at work on yours.

  7. That said... I don't think Judges will be truly scary this time. But I think I want to make this Prologue more action oriented than the last one and perhaps even more so than the first one. In short, the Christian action film. The testosterone shot that CBA (and in turn, the church) so desperately needs. Of course, this makes this flick a hard sell. Which is why I don't look for it to be produced unless market changes occur. For those who enjoyed Fireproof, I can promise you would HATE this flick.

    It's also pretty cool when your men's pastor keeps pushing you on all fronts. (Including Judges. It was cool that he made time to talk to me about it about a month ago.)

  8. Anonymous9:25 AM

    I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  9. Thanks for visiting my blog! Do you have a more recent place where you post?


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