Book Review – The Shadow Constant by AJ Scudiere

The Shadow Constant
AJ Scudiere
2013, Paperback

So, AJ happened to like my last review of one of her novels so much that she keeps giving me stuff to review.  I was going to review something else but she really wanted this one done before the end of the year.  The things we do for people.  *giggles*

Anyway.  Shadow Constant is about four people who are renovating a plantation and find a few things in a wall, one of them being the plans for a machine created by Eli Whitney.  Plans that people are willing to kill for.
As the book progresses, we see the length that people are willing to go to get the plans and the determination of these four in saving them.

I have a few issues with the book.  I’ll try to avoid spoilers, but you’ve been warned.

  • Kayla has Asperger’s, and we know this because every two pages, somebody in the book makes sure to tell us.  There are a lot of [character] wasn’t sure if the problem was Kayla’s Asperger’s or something else… going on in the story.
  • Guns happen in this story and the terminology is wrong in a few places.  The author and I disagree over this.  She said she did it on purpose since the characters in the book don’t really know guns.  But the book is 3rd person narrated, and even though it’s limited to just a couple main perspectives, it’s still a 3rd person narrator.  And if they know what they’re smelling after a gun went off (and no, I don’t mean gunpowder), they know the difference between a clip and a mag because somewhere along the line, someone tried to up sell them or corrected them when they asked a seemingly-stupid question.  Trust me, even if they went to a show vs. a shop or whatever, they heard the right words at some point.
  • Kayla’s kiss.  I saw it coming, I groaned.  That whole relationship wasn’t needed.

Aside from that, the last third or so of the book felt a little off for some reason, but I don’t know why.

With that said. I had issues from the beginning with this review because I kept comparing it in my head to Phoenix, which is a silly thing to do since the two books are totally unrelated [AJ’s first five novels were written to stand alone], but still.  Phoenix was one of those books that I can’t get out of my head.
Right from the start, I thought it was weird that there is seemingly nothing that I can point to and say “There.  That’s AJ.”  I mean, yeah, she’s good at things, but there’s nothing here that I point out and say “OMG, This is totally an AJ book” if I didn’t otherwise know it.  It’s not good or bad, it just is.  But while I was still comparing the books in my head, it was weird to me.  And it took a while to get that comparison to stop.  Because, seriously, the books feel like they’re written by two different people.  It’s probably a product of the POV – even though it’s third limited, the books feel like their main characters, and these are vastly different main characters – and like I said, not good or bad, it just is.
And even though I was a little disappointed that this book didn’t feel like the other one did, I found myself thinking about it at weird times.  It’d just pop in my head.  So there is that.

Still, I’m going to have to apologize to AJ here.  I know she wanted a five star review, because she told me so.  But as I said, there were a few issues in the last third of the book and a couple ongoing things that drove me nuts.  I think the story is totally worth reading, but I just couldn’t find that extra something that elevates a four-star rating (read this) to a five star (buy this).

I really have agonized over this review, but in the end, I think I have to give this a four-page rating.

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