Fricker’s Corner Book Review: Shades of Gray – By Jackie Kessler and Caitlin Kittredge

This is not your mom’s Shades of Gray, this is about individuals with extraordinary abilities. This was the Second book in The Icarus Project series. The first book in the series, Black and White, was okay, but it didn’t wow me; ending with too many questions left unanswered. Shades of Gray answers most of those, and I hope that a third book will be written to finish answering the few questions that have been left to be answered.

To understand why I would read the sequel to a book I didn’t particularly like you must understand that I have a problem: that at times leads to masochistic tortures. Once I start a story I have to see it to the end. I’ve seen the Twilight movies, all because a girl at a Blockbuster back in 09 told me it was this amazing Vampire movie. After watching it I wanted to claw my eyes out, and then I was told there were multiple books. I tried to read the first one, couldn’t get more than 50 pages into it! Bella is one of the worst female characters ever written. I then realized the director and screenwriter of the movie should have earned Oscars for turning the crap on paper into the movie I saw. The fact remains that even though I knew I was going to dislike them, I had to see the movies and finish the story.

So after reading Black and White, which was like going to see a movie you were extremely excited about and wanted to like even though it didn’t live up to expectations: I discovered there was second book in the series. A week ago when I finished another book, I looked at my ‘to read’ pile and decided it was time to get this over with.

The book started up a week or two after the first in the series ended, with the hero Jet and her counterpart, the villain Iridium, dealing with the fallout caused by their actions; which I can’t explain without giving away major plot points of the first book. I quickly became excited when it was time to crack open the pages and read a chapter, this time the authors didn’t leave me unsatisfied.

The world in Black and White is set in a future where individuals with super powers called Extra-humans exist, and centered in New Chicago. The city’s hero, Jet – a lady with the ability to control shadow – battles her former best friend and nemesis, Iridium – the city’s most wanted with control over light. The book has sections that cover the now and then, with the then covering the years and events leading up to when Jet and Iridium became enemies. Each chapter in the perspective of a character switching between the two. That same style is used in Shades of Gray, with the then covering the parents of the main characters.

Shades of Gray was both a prequel and sequel to Black and White and it performed amazingly. I liked this second book very much as a stand alone but sadly reading it while skipping the first one will leave you asking a lot of questions as prior events are brought up often. If you’re a person that likes superheros, and strong female characters who kick a lot of ass then this series will make you happy, but make sure you purchase both books and read them one after another, this is a story the works better together.

Alone I give Shades of Gray a “Read It” but as a whole the series gets a “Meh”. The series is worth the read, but if you can find them used, since I believe they only come as Trade Paperbacks. I can’t say for sure if you will enjoy the books, but the story was well done and it’s a take on super heroes by two excellent authors who just happen to be women in a very male oriented genre. I really hope they write a third book someday, I think there is more story that can be told.

If you enjoy The Icarus Project series, or stories about super powered people check out Masked and The Darker Mask. Both are compilations of short stories dealing with Superheros.

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