CriminOlly thinks: Unspeakably bad, I implore you not to read this book. 1/5
Title: The Shadow | Author: James Patterson and Brian Sitts | Publisher: Random House | Pages: 400 | Publication date: 8th July 2021 | Source: Self-purchased | Content warnings: Yes | Tolerance warning: Yes
About this time in 2020 I reviewed The Coast to Coast Murders by James Patterson and JD Barker. In that review I wrote:
Einstein famously said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. By that measure, in my dealings with the work of James Patterson at least, I’m fucking nuts.
Reader, I’ve done it again, I’ve read a James Patterson and (hereafter, JPA) book. And guess what, the results weren’t different. It was fucking shit.
Why did I do it, you may well ask? Well, I don’t have much of an excuse, but the story goes something like this. Be warned, it’s like one of those books where you know the protagonist is going to come to a terrible end but you have to keep reading and there is nothing you can do to stop their appalling fate.
In my teens in the mid to late 80s I was a big nerd (hard to believe, I know) and really into comic books. In particular I liked the darker, grittier stuff (hard to believe, I know) and so when DC published The Shadow: Blood and Judgment by Howard Chaykin I lapped it up. It was a mini series based on a 1930s radio show and full of the kind of post modern reinvention and violent retribution that I’d so enjoyed in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns (this was back when Miller’s right wing tendencies felt edgy and satirical rather than simple fascism).
Fast forward 35 years and I’m in my load supermarket and I see a book called The Shadow on the shelves. I mean sure it’s a JPA but I pick it up anyway and although the blurb makes no reference at all to the 1930s source material the fact that there is a character called Lamont Cranston (which I remember is the Shadow’s civilian name), means I nearly buy it. But then a voice in my head says, “FFS, Olly, it’s a JPA, do not buy it”.
And then 2 weeks later I’m checking the Kindle daily deals like a good save to the capitalist machine and it’s there for 99p and reader I am sorry but I bought it.
Now I have about 1000 unread Kindle books so the odds of me actually reading it were still low enough to be in my favour. But THEN I feel into a horrible reading slump after finishing Hollywood Wives. I started about 5 books, all by good authors, but I couldn’t connect with any of them. I just didn’t feel like I had the energy for them.
And so I started reading The Shadow. And you know what? It was so easy to read. No complexity, no trouble remembering which character was which, no need to pay attention to the plot because really there isn’t one. That’s how JPAs suck people in. To my shame I let it happen to me.
I guess I’d better review this damn thing. It starts in the 1930s with Lamont Cranston and his beau. He gets poisoned by his arch enemy Khan. Skip forward to a near future YA dystopia that feels like it was generated by a shitty AI. There’s a tomboyish teenage girl whose a bit of a rebel and an outcast. A lawyer contacts her and tells her she has been left something in a will. She ends up getting sent to a warehouse where a weird guy meets her and then brings Cranston (whose corpse is there) back to life. Then they battle the evil world president like characters in bad YA dystopian novels do.
None of it makes any real sense. There are a couple of twists that are so blindingly obvious they are barely worthy of the name, but aside from that the plot is just a string of not very exciting events. The book actually finished in my Kindle at 95% (because there is a preview of another JPA at the end). I was completely taken off guard by the ending, not because it is good or surprising or anything like that, but because I had completely missed the fact that the dramatic climax to the story had taken place. That’s how completely disengaged I was by the end.
I implore you, do not read this book.
Only two people know Lamont Cranston’s secret identity as the Shadow, a vigilante of justice: his greatest love, Margo Lane, and his fiercest enemy, Shiwan Khan. Then Khan ambushes the couple, who find the slimmest chance of survival . . . in the uncertain future.
A century and a half later, Lamont awakens in a world both unknown and strangely familiar. The first person he meets is Maddy Gomes, a teenager with her own mysterious secrets, including a more than passing awareness of the legend of the Shadow.
Most disturbing, Khan’s power continues to be felt over New York and its people. No one in this new world understands the dangers of stopping him better than Lamont Cranston. He also knows he’s the only one who stands a chance. Lamont must prove that the Shadow is more than just a legend.
Content Warning: It’s really shit
Tolerance Warning: Possible Islamophobia