A secret international organization gets more than it bargained for when it kidnaps 14-year-old Rennes “Ren” Sharpe.
Snatched from her bed one night, Ren finds herself at the Future Affairs Training and Education Center. Ren soon learns that she and the other teens at the center are all recruits undergoing training to serve as protectors, or Shadows, to the future leaders. The first-person narrative follows her four-year training program at the F.A.T.E. Center, including torturous nightly injections of the drug “fire” to inure her to pain. On the first day of training, she meets Junie Miller, and the two develop a connection that eventually develops into a romance of sorts. Of course, once training ends, Ren and Junie are separated forever, as both are linked to their assignments, the future leaders they are sworn to protect. Ren’s “link” is the nerdy Gareth Young, incoming freshman engineering major at Texas A&M. After Gareth is targeted in a seemingly random attack, Ren starts breaking the Shadow rules, beginning to wonder whether something more sinister is behind the attack. In his debut, Shine delivers a thrilling plot and a headstrong heroine on par with Katniss Everdeen and Tris Prior. While the novel delivers on Ren’s characterization and action, the romance between Ren and Junie feels unnecessary and is never quite believable.
Read it for the satisfying action, not the love story. (Science fiction/thriller. 14-18)