Review The Shadow Girl by John Larkin



Inspired by true events, a story of courage, survival, and a young girl who defies horrible odds to take control of her destiny.
The unnamed narrator escapes the dangerous imploding world of her parents and wider family in order to survive. Not wishing to be chewed up and spat out by the red light district she hides out in her local church, spends her weekends in the sand dunes on a Central Coast beach, and—with the help of her aunt’s credit card—has the occasional stay in a five-star hotel. Most of her time on the run, though, she spends on the trains—generally sleeping in the shunting yards. When the trains become too dangerous she manages to find a derelict house in a leafy suburb and moves in with the possums and resident ghosts, ready to prove once and for all that she can take care of herself.

Genre: YA Fiction
Publisher: Random House Australia
Release Date: October 1, 2011
Page Count: 336
Source: My copy.
Rating: 2.5/5

I don’t know what to feel about this book. Disappointed, I guess. I haven’t been too into the romance stuff lately and here is this book that could touch on some real issues but I just wasn’t impressed.

I have this thing about addressing the reader in fiction. I think it really takes away from the authenticity of the story, like, “hey! hey you! I have something to say!” With the interviews between the author and the (nameless) protagonist being a central point to the story, I didn’t feel that the story itself was very believable. I mean, obviously we know that the protagonist in first person fiction isn’t a real person and didn’t write the book, but that detail sits at the back of our minds. It has to in order for us to really fall into the story being laid out for us. I mean, I understand that this book is based on a true story, but when the fact that you’re reading a book is pointed out in the book you’re reading, it’s harder to get sucked in. The names and places, too. The author practically screams from the rooftop of a tall building, “I’m using fake names!” Again, we know this, it’s a given when reading fiction, but, as readers, we like the facts about writing the book to take a back seat when we’re reading. And I suppose if this book was put forth as non-fiction, it would have been okay. But it wasn’t. And all these things are just impossible to ignore.

Unfortunately, for our protagonist (comparatively, for some poor girl out there), The Shadow Girl tells a very sad story. But I couldn’t help thinking that it could be sadder. Not in the sense that worse things could have happened, but I just think that the whole thing could have been executed so much better. Life was raining down on our thirteen year old character – she was homeless, she was an (almost) victim of rape, she had no family that loved her – and yet I didn’t really feel for her. The writing was amateurish, and didn’t really drive the point across. I was reading about her terrible uncle and how fear pretty much ruled this young girl’s existence, but I just didn’t feel it. It was sort of just there without any raw emotion behind it. Because of this, by the last 100 pages I just wanted it to be over. I didn’t really see the need to finish – what could the rest of it possibly offer me? But it was okay, the ending. There was a twist about the girl’s background that I probably should have seen coming but didn’t. But I don’t chalk that up to the originality of the novel. I honestly think I was just so uninterested with the whole thing that my subconscious mind didn’t care to guess what would happen next.

It wasn’t all bad – I did enjoy the flow of things and the protagonist was very likable; I wanted her to survive – but it was all very hollow. Like an empty shell. It could have been so much better.


About Lulie

Call me Lu. I'm a newbie book blogger and self-professed literature addict. Love my husband, my cat, and my books. View all posts by Lulie

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