Early Review: Scorpion Shards by Neal Shusterman

scorpion shardsScorpion Shards by Neal Shusterman
Series: The Star Shards Chronicles #1
Genre: Young Adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Re-Release Date: May 7, 2013
ARC Provided by Edelweiss and Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Six teens struggle to discover the source of their strange and horrific abilities in this first book of The Star Shards Chronicles.

Dillon has the terrifying power to create massive amounts of destruction with the slightest tweak of his will. Deanna is so consumed by fear, it has become like a black hole, drawing to her the very things that terrify her. Then, when the glare of a supernova sixteen light-years away illuminates the night sky, they have a vision: There are six of them out there, all teenagers, and all suffering from supernatural afflictions that disfigure their bodies and souls. Only by finding one another will the six ever be strong enough to defeat these mysterious forces that, bit by bit, are devouring their souls from the inside out.

D.G.’s Rating: 3.5 stars = B

Scorpion Shards is a compelling, fast paced story. It chronicles the journey of 6 teens that suffer through the ultimate teenage nightmares, multiplied by a thousand. The whole book deals with the question…do you control your inner monster or let it wreak havoc in the world?

This is not the usual Young Adult book about a beautiful, lonely girl who catches the attention of the bad boy. Dillon, Deanna, Winston, Lourdes, Michael and Tori suffer from anomalies that either transform their bodies in grotesque ways or compel them to hurt others: morbid obesity, gruesome pustules, uncontrollable lust, reverse growth, crippling fear, and furious destruction. They are outcasts, caught in the middle of Teenage Hell and like every adolescent in the history of humankind, they are in pain, feeling isolated and misunderstood.They are living horrible lives when the glare of a supernova changes everything. They must find each other if they hope for salvation.

This book made me think of adolescence in a way that I’ve never thought before. It made me realize how this is one of the most important turning points in a person’s life. Do you let your anger destroy you (and others) or do you channel your feelings productively? I think most people manage to do the latter but for a portion of the population, whatever happens in these years will leave indelible marks that will follow them for a lifetime.

In a sense, this isn’t a easy book to read because the Shards seem like normal teens with big weaknesses. At times, I felt transported back to my own teenage years and I remembered what some of these things felt like. As the book progressed and I realized that they also held great powers, I couldn’t help but think that they were the villains of the story. Lots of people suffer in this book because of the Shards’ actions and it’s not pretty. At the end, there is some reckoning but it carries a great price.

He tried to deny all the things he had done – tried to deny that he had chosen this path, but even among shades of gray, the truth was there in black and white; it had been his choice to destroy.

To be sure, Scorpion Shards has some weaknesses. The whole supernova thing was a bit convoluted and there’s a scene with Tarot cards that came completely out of left field. The constant changes in POV – necessary because there are 6 main characters – could have been handled a bit smoother.

This book was originally released in 1995 with a cover so bad, it was scary. This May, the whole series will be re-released, with a very needed makeover. I’m not sure if this will appeal to the usual YA readers but it’s a very thought-provoking read. If I had teenage children, I would want them to read it because it’s a great warning of can happen when we give in to our desire for destruction.

Thanks to Edelweiss and Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers for providing a review copy of this book!

Series Order:
1. Scorpion Shards
2. Thief of Souls – Check in later today when I review the next book in the series.
3. Shattered Sky

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