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Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

SHIMMER by Dallas Reed

 

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Shimmer is Dallas Reed’s first novel, and is a horror tale aimed at the young adult market. But here’s a caveat: the book is definitely written more for high schoolers and for aggressive junior high school students. The language and casual mention of drug paraphernalia and usage could be offensive to some readers and parents. However, it’s no worse than most PG-13 movies.

The plot is thin and doesn’t have a lot of surprises. A mysterious device is uncovered during an excavation of a site by the company owned by a parent of one of the heroes of the book. Of course, the device is stored in the parents’ house and they go away for the weekend, leaving the teenager on his own—with a way to potentially end the world. My first thought was that since the parents were so well off, why didn’t they simply lock the device in the house safe? Or, barring that, a lockbox?

The only answer I could come up with was that if the device was left inaccessible, the author wouldn’t have had much of a book. I was also somewhat let down when the true nature of the device was revealed. Reed uses an old Greek myth to launch his tears upon the characters and town they live in. What he fails to do is link that myth concretely enough to today’s world. I kept wanting some explanation of how the box happened to be found and why it still existed. According to the myth, everything was pretty much resolved.

I also had a problem with the characters. After the initial handful of chapters introducing everybody, I found I still didn’t buy into them very much. Nearly all of them are cardboard and possess about as much emotional texture as a Star Trek red shirt. I just didn’t get surprised by the actions of any of those characters.

What Reed does offer and succeeds at is pure escapism. Readers that buy into the book’s conceits (characters and plot) receive a frantically paced chase and a never-ending since that everything is about to come to an abrupt and unfriendly end. The book’s language is easy to read, there’s plenty of dialogue and pop culture references as well as teenage snarkiness, short chapters, and that rapid pacing.

The events in Shimmer take place in one evening. Quick readers will probably spend about the same amount time breezing through the pages. There aren’t any deeper meanings or emotional complexities to ponder over during or after reading the book. Still, teen readers and book readers looking for something to while away a couple of hours with may find the book diverting enough. Reed already has a sophomore effort coming out in a few more months. The brief synopsis is intriguing enough and the author’s pacing is persuasive enough that I’m going to pick up that book when it comes out.

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