Shadow Eyes - Dusty Crabtree
I won this in a giveaway on another site.

First things first, Trigger Warning for an attempted date rape. Afterward, the attacker is apologetic and the victims forgives him. It's difficult to read the first person narrative as she goes through the attack, the guilt and shame after and forgiving her attacker because it's the Christian thing to do.

Secondly, this book isn't just young adult, it's Christian fiction paranormal romance. I think this is important because it helps people to either find your book or avoid it if they aren't into a Christian Twilight. I hate Twilight and I hate the books spawned from it's unfortunate rise to popularity. It comes to no surprise that I couldn't stand this book. Sure, it's better written but that's faint praise considering how bad Twilight was. I was irritated with the main characters actions and judgments at first. As the book went on it became clear this book is for the pushing of Christian morals and ideals, which just made it so much worse. I don't agree with what this book advocates. Since the choices, story and driving force is the Christian ideals, I think it would be hard for people who disagree to enjoy it. There's really nothing redeeming about the book and fighting against the characters makes it really hard to get into. Finding out this was Christian fiction while reading was really not a pleasant surprise.

If I had known that this was Christian fiction paranormal romance, I wouldn't have been interested. This simply isn't my kind of book. I don't have the patience to deal with another religious pushing paranormal teen romance. If this book was classified as Christian fiction with the blurb I would have been able to see the standard Angel Vs. Demon conflict coming. Once I realized what this book was, that's when I really clued into how it was going to go and turn out. It feels so unimaginative and boring. Seriously, it seems like every Christian-fiction-paranormal-romance's big issue is Heaven Vs Hell, Angel Vs. Demon claptrap. I'm beginning to doubt whether any christian writers can come up with anything new or different.

The funny thing is in certain flavors of Christianity, this story is true. People literally believe in seeing demons, angels and their interference in human lives. Slap a “based on a true story” on the cover and you'd have people buying into this. That fact adds a funny and sad dimension to the book. I don't like reading Christian fiction usually because it becomes preachy and overbearing, just like Shadow Eyes did. It's just nice to know what I'm getting into before hand. It helps me to prepare and adjust my expectations. My expectations were not meet and I was extremely disappointed. I felt tricked into this book since it wasn't classified as Christian fiction.

However, I did win it, I did start reading it and I had to finish it. Even disregarding my disagreement with the morals and ethics preached in this book, I did not enjoy the story. It didn't engage me. I didn't like Iris. She annoyed me. I couldn't stand her. She's Bella with an excuse. Her love interests bugged me. It felt so disingenuous. I could see all the supposed surprises and twists coming from a mile away. It felt like a repeat. A bad imitation of something that's terrible to begin with. I really have nothing good to say about this book and felt I needed to be honest.

The moral of the story? Classify books correctly so you can market it to your audience correctly.

Bullet Points:

---Very preachy. Beat us over the head with all the messages and morals of the story again and again and again. Needless and heavy handed.

---Some parts I just didn't 'buy' into. Remember, readers will believe the impossible but not the improbable.

---Very obvious. I could see every supposed twist coming a mile away. There was so many hints and foreshadowing. I can't believe anyone else didn't see it too. The lack of creativity was so painful.

---Dragged on far too long. Every little instance was brought up in detail. Usually I'd love this but with seeing how the book was going from the get go, it was just so unnecessary. The only one who didn't clue into it was Iris and that just made me so irritated with her. It was at least 80 pages too long for me. I only finished it because I have a compulsion to finish and hate not completing something.

---I have issues with the morals of the story. Now, I've read books I've disagree with and liked them. I just always bring up the books strong points, why I like them and a disclaimer that I don't agree with them. I can't do that with this book since there's literally nothing I enjoyed or liked about it but I still need to put up the disclaimer. If your book is a vessel to spread your message and morals, expect people to bring them up and disagree with them.

---Claims to be all for kids being themselves, not succumbing to peer pressure yet it's all about pressuring kids into fitting in with Christian ideals. It sets people up for failure and doesn't give any realistic advice or expectations.

---Mother Teresa as a role model? Fuck no. She was a terrible person. She took money from terrible people and hoarded it. She claimed to be helping the sick and poor, but instead gathered them in little shacks to all die together in immense pain. They were given no help, no treatment, no pain relief, reused needles and diseases spread throughout. Vow of poverty my ass, just like the Pope. When she needed heath care she went to clinics in California, while her sister nuns suffered in their ministries. There is nothing, absolutely nothing worthwhile or redeeming about this woman. She spread misery and pain. People suffered more with her, than before her. Don't believe me? Here's her own words,"I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot, to share it with the passion of Christ. I think the world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people."

---So many instances of Slut-shaming. I was disgusted and it was so infuriating for the characters I'm suppose to like, agree with, and sympathize with to be such assholes.

---I know that people are judgmental, shallow and make wrong assumptions. I get that, it was just so grating. Iris was quick to judge and condemn others. She describes every other student as delinquents, thugs and drop-out-waiting-to-happen. She jumps to conclusions regarding Patrick throwing drunken wild parties when she hears a two second conversation about a party at Patrick's house with no mention of drinking. It was annoying to have Iris and the gang make fun of Sam so much just because he's a gamer. I mean really, most teens play video games so it came off as so silly, stupid and mean. Sure points for being realistic, but this is the reason I don't hang out with judgmental religious people. All this accomplished was making me hate all the characters and want to throw the book away. Points for being painfully realistic though.

In Depth:
One of the ethical issues brought up in this book is stealing. There's one instance where the Mr. Delaney stops a woman from stealing clothes at a strip mall. This I actually have no problem against. The other stealing incident is where it gets problematic. Now Iris and Kyra are in the lunch line at school. There's a “typical thug in a black hoodie” in line behind them with only french fries on his tray and a hamburger he's trying to steal in his pocket. Kyra uses “the light” to make another girl inform the lunch line lady of this boy's stealing. Now what could possibly be my problem with this? What if this so called thug was just hungry and couldn't afford to pay for it? That I think would be totally different. The right thing to do would to be compassionate and talk to him about why he's stealing instead of jumping to conclusions based on how he looks.

Now we are told that this is a big school and all that, so how would Iris or Kyra, who's new to boot, know anything about this young man? How do they know he's a “thug”? That he's stealing just to steal and up to no good? Oh, but there's a shadow on him. So what? He could still be just hungry and poor. After all, the demons are the ones who up the ante, convincing Josh to be more forceful and move more quickly sexually speaking with Iris, but the basic sexual attraction and desire is already there in Josh. So the demons just work on lowering his inhibitions. What if it's the same situation for this “typical thug”? What if he's just hungry and can't afford food, is so ashamed and worried about it that a demon needs to convince him to steal to eat? After all, it's not like he's going to get compassion for what he's going through, since Kyra, the most compassionate, caring person ever just jumps to conclusions and couldn't give a fuckless.

Now what is my problem with advising kids to not have sex early and before getting married? Simple, with the Christian narrative of sex being icky and wrong unless married and that succumbing to normal human feelings means you failed and let the demons won. Instead of actual sex education, kids are told to simply abstain and the high rate of teenage pregnancy in states that preach abstinence only shows how well that plan works. If someone want to wait til marriage, that's fine that's their own decision. However, education needs to be, well, educational so that way if something happens they are knowledgeable and prepared. Marriage isn't necessary for a long lasting meaningful relationship. Marriage isn't necessary for sex. It's completely shaming to push or enforce for those who don't want to get married or those who can't get married due to homophobic bigots restricting gay marriage.

Now do I really expect sex education to be taught in this book? Nope, sure don't. However, it's an excellent illustration of what else is wrong with the Christian ideals. Claire was used as a convenient example of how having sex once gets you pregnant and shunned. From the get go Claire was used simply an example of what not to wear, and how not to act since your reputation as a 'good girl' is so important. After she became pregnant her life was ruined, left alone and miserable while Mike's (the baby's father) life goes on as normal. He's hanging with his friends, having fun, throwing parties and remaining popular.

Kyra goes over to try to talk to Claire. The message and moral we get from that encounter? Sure, go show compassion to the poor slut and show how much better you are, after all Claire invited it upon herself, it's her own fault. Oh no, blame Claire's situation on herself but Iris's sister having a miscarriage was unfair and unjust. Clearly, the message is don't have sex until marriage, if you get pregnant it's all the woman's own fault and the fetus is the most important thing. The whole episode is unnecessary to the story, except dragging things out. It shows Kyra and Patrick conflict clearly a whole 100 pages before the book ends which makes it all obvious. What happens to Claire and the unplanned, unwanted fetus? Who the fuck knows? They disappeared as soon as the moral was taught. They may make an appearance in the next book, but I'll be passing on that. I have no need to read another terrible book to hear how magically and due to God's grace that Claire, Mike and the baby lived happily ever after. (yeah, right)

This incident also foreshadows Iris's true issue. Foreshadowing in this book is so ham-handed. I was surprised by none of the events in the book at all. Every little thing is harped on and brought up. Every little instance of weirdness or of bad times described in detail. It makes it painfully obvious about Kyra,the teacher, Patrick , Iris and Claire. I mean good lord, stop putting all the hints, clues, foreshadowing and get to the point already! I see it coming and making this book at least 80 pages longer than necessary, then closing it all up in 20 pages quickly, was tedious and boring. It made me hate Iris for being so fucking dense and stupid. Yes, yes, the shadow on her, I know. I saw it there. Duh. How did no one else see this coming? I sure as hell did and I didn't feel sympathetic towards Iris at all. It made irritated, annoyed and hate her. She's so oblivious and uncaring. She's just takes, takes, takes. What does she do for her friends? Is she funny or have a personality? She just whines and complains and needs rescuing. She's Bella with an excuse. Next book her excuse will be she's just new to this whole light warrior business. There is a chance of her becoming the perfectly perfect light warrior good girl like Kyra. Of course, as Patrick is the prodigal son while Iris merely wavers. She's still the good girl. She has to be, it doesn't take much for a woman to fall and the consequences are always far more harsh.

(Don't believe me? Read your own bible. )

Notes & Quotes:

PG. 31 Iris "wondering what else she [Nicole] would do if asked by someone she thought was popular." - Foreshadowing

PG. 72 Iris says to her mom, "if she [Mom] were a hooker." regarding her mother's outfit her mother picked out for a date. She goes on to say "There was no way I was letting my mother go out in that." Slut shaming. Typical, terrible.

PG. 86 Iris describing another girl in a bathroom "when a drop-out-waiting-to-happen walked in and leaned her back against the wall behind me, fidgeting." - Judgmental asshole, much? Ugh.

PG. 99 "Mother Theresa" Hanna dresses as Mother Theresa? That's Hanna's role model? Mother Theresa is a terrible, terrible person. Seriously. Fuck Mother Theresa.

PG. 113 Kyra "Now, I want you to think back. Where else have you felt these same emotions?" Classic therapist line, how is Iris this dense? She didn't pick up on this?

PG. 135 Iris "If anyone was to blame, it was them [The shadows]! I boiled with rage and my fists clenched into weapons." - Nice to have a scape goat and something to blame. Convenient that. Grow up. Shit happens.

PG. 144 Tedious and Boring. Iris clings to her attraction and that "something in us pull us together" soul mate nonsense to not believe Patrick was bad news.

PG. 144 Iris says "I couldn't believe Patrick was throwing crazy, drunken parties at his house and inviting random people he didn't know." Um, you heard part of a conversation that didn't include or even hint at alcohol being there and you jump to the conclusion of wild, alcohol parties? WTF is wrong with you Iris? Plus his parties weren't wild and crazy. Oh wow a couple of kids watched a movie, played some video games and danced with drinks in their hands. Oh lordy, lordy. The worst thing that happened was Patrick trying to date rape Iris because he was a jerkface, not being of the alcohol. You can slip a drug into any drink like juice, it doesn't have to be alcoholic either.

PG. 177 Iris and Patrick in the kitchen of his house. He asks her to turn around so he can secretly mix up her alcoholic drink, Patrick says "Yeah, well. We must take out precautions." - Don't let anyone else get your drink, or make it without you looking. Don't set your drink down and leave it unattended. It's a standard precaution at parties. Why not teach that or talk about the testing kits or something helpful? Now this isn't fool proof obviously and women shouldn't have to do these kinds of things. People should just stop date raping but in the mean time, at least be aware of possible ways to protect yourself. It's of course never your fault if it does happen, whether or not you took precautions, whether or not you were drinking. It's the fault of the person who attacked you.

PG. 183 Iris "Even in my head I sounded like a weak, enabling, battered wife." - Again, shaming.

PG. 188 Iris "but the shame ridden victim in me said I was somehow responsible." - Yeah, if the demon is causing such guilt and shame, maybe the demon is patriarchal oppressive society. Sexism is a cornerstone of Abrahamic religions and helps to perpetrate it to this day.

PG. 220 Iris says about her brother in law, "if he was shacking up with some young tramp." He lied about being married like Tom did to your mom, asshole. It's not that woman's fault like it isn't your mom's fault. She's not a tramp.

PG. 226 "My legs continued to get weaker and more unsteady, causing my run to resemble a drunk person's stagger, but the glowing man whose arm still wrapped tightly around me was barely exerting any energy. In fact, his movement beside me was so smooth and effortless it didn't even seem as though he were running at all." - That "Footprints" poem bullshit.

PG. Iris talking about Kyra taking care of her sister and visiting her parents in the hospital "but surely all the responsibility and extra work couldn't take that much out of you." - Privileged asshole. It does. Are we suppose to feel bad because we are human and get run down? Iris is a moron and has no idea what it takes.

PG. 233 Iris talking about Patrick, "guilt-ridden boy who needed to accept forgiveness." Not everything can and should be forgiven. I hate that forgiveness is pushed for so hard. It's okay to not forgive or accept apologies.

PG. 239 Iris - "How could God do this to her? I yelled through the phone at my innocent mother. She's done nothing but good for other people, and she gets repaid with malaria?" - That's easy there is no god. She went to a devastated country increasing her risk to certain diseases and she caught one. No god needed, simply rational thought. People get cancer too, it happens.

PG. 241 Iris to Patrick "You had always been there for me in the past, and...I need that again. Hanna's in the hospital." Holy fuck is she needy. All she does is take, take, take. WTF does she do for her friends? Oh right. Jack fucking shit. She wouldn't do what Kyra did for her at the party.

PG. 265 "Even my friends, aside from Shelby, had ditched me to hang out with more chipper people." Like you do Iris? You do the exact same shit. You only want to be around chipper people and actively avoid people with shadows, yet you complain when people do it to you? Goddamn Isis is annoying.

PG. 271 Iris and the extended metaphor of the puppy in the window looking like it has mange, when the glass was just dirty. "I wasn't damaged like I thought I was, and I had worth and strength I never thought possible." So what about people who actually have problems? About the puppies with actual mange? Does that make them worthless? She comes off as so shallow and stupid. She really didn't notice it was just the window that was dirty? Ugh.

PG. 273 "I'd had my suspicions of all that Kyra could actually see and do but had never had them demonstrated in such a blatant,irrefutable way." Yes, she has. Idiot.