Friday, April 3, 2015

The Shadow Cabinet

The Shadow Cabinet
by Maureen Johnson

The thrilling third installment to the Edgar-nominated, bestselling series.

Rory and her friends are reeling from a series of sudden and tragic events. While racked with grief, Rory tries to determine if she acted in time to save a member of the squad. If she did, how do you find a ghost? Also, Rory’s classmate Charlotte has been kidnapped by Jane and her nefarious organization. Evidence is uncovered of a forty-year-old cult, ten missing teenagers, and a likely mass murder. Everything indicates that Charlotte’s in danger, and it seems that something much bigger and much more terrible is coming.

Time is running out as Rory fights to find her friends and the ghost squad struggles to stop Jane from unleashing her spectral nightmare on the entire city. In the process, they'll discover the existence of an organization that underpins London itself—and Rory will learn that someone she trusts has been keeping a tremendous secret.

My Reaction:
This series continues to be enjoyable-- better than the average modern YA I've read.  I do find that I've forgotten a lot of what happened in the first two books, though, and I begin to wonder how long this series will be.  This is the third, and there clearly will be at least a fourth.  I certainly don't mind longer series, but I hate the long wait between installments!

ETA:  I've since read other reviews that indicate there will be four books in the series (in addition to a prequel novella about Stephen).

Specifics (with SPOILERS):
--  At the end of the last book, I was confident that Stephen would eventually be returned to the physical world, somehow, but in the meantime, I figured they'd find his ghost and there would be a lot of awkward (Pushing Daisies-style) "I love you, but I can't touch you or you'll disappear forever" angst.  I'm honestly not sure whether or not I'd have preferred that to the reality... As it was, Stephen wasn't in most of the book at all... (And yes, a big reason I'm reading is for the Rory/Stephen relationship.)

--  Speaking of relationships, I was a little disappointed when Jerome came back into the story.  I mean, Jerome's a nice enough guy, but I didn't want to see a prolonged love triangle.

--  Evidence of how much I've forgotten:  I didn't remember anything specific about Charlotte, except that she was missing.  I thought she might've been the best-friend room-mate.  Apparently not.  The best-friend room-mate was Jazza.  And while it makes sense for Rory to want to see and talk to her at the end of this book, by that time, she's nearly a stranger to the reader (if the reader hasn't read the first two books since soon after their original publication dates).  Alistair (the library ghost) made much more of an impression, apparently, because I completely remembered him...

--  While a few things Rory says about the U.S. (and Louisiana in particular) make me raise my eyebrows, I really enjoy the fact that she's from the South.  For the most part, I have no objection to her comments on life in the Deep South.  She definitely gets some things right!

--  Rory can still make me laugh!

--  "Boo wheeled around and widened her eyes so suddenly and so extremely that I thought they might come out of their sockets.  Because that can happen.  I  mean, I know it happens to dogs.  One of our neighbors at home had a pug whose eyes used to come out every once in a while, and they'd put them back in.  They called him Popeye."  Yes, I know of a dog whose eye popped out, too.  If aesthetic preferences hadn't already precluded my choosing a "pop-eye" dog, the horrifying thought of eyes coming loose would do it.  ~shudder~

--  I guess the cemetery Rory visits is so old that it's like a national/regional park or something, but it still seems odd to have to pay to go into a cemetery!

--  "I felt weirdly jealous at the thought of Freddie getting to talk to Stephen online for weeks.  He was probably one of those people who found it easier to talk that way.  It had been that way for Jerome and me, when we'd been separated.  We actually got closer when we could only be online."  Well, I met my husband online, so yeah, no surprise that I completely agree with that.

--  "In four days in December of 1952, the London fog killed twelve thousand people."  I had to look that up.  It's hard to imagine, but apparently true. 

--  "There was a Home n' Deck near my town (we don't get a Home Depot; we're not that fancy)."  Bwa-ha-ha!

--  When Rory goes to find Stephen in that weird limbo-world, they find themselves at her house in Louisiana, where it's a hot, sunny day.  Stephen speculates that growing up in such a warm place might shape your personality.  Maybe it explains Rory's "pathological" optimism.  Interesting idea-- and I don't doubt that climate can affect an overall national identity or mood-- but there are plenty of pessimists and realists in hot climates-- and optimistic people live in cold regions, too.  So no, I'm not really buying it.  (g)

--  "Next steps involve making things more official.  New identities.  Training.  And perhaps most important, what we tell your family."  So Rory's only seventeen, right?  She's not "allowed" to leave England (I think...) because she's now "a stone"-- nor does she want to leave, I'm sure.  But if I'm not mistaken, don't her parents still have the ultimate say?  As is usually the case in these YA fantasies, her parents have been in the background the whole time-- far in the background, in this book.  Rory needs freedom from them to have her adventures, and I get that, but in some ways, her distance from her family feels less realistic than the whole ghost thing!

--  So now to wait for the next one.  No telling when that will be out... Well, I only hope I'll still remember enough of the first three books to recognize the characters.  Oh, who am I kidding?!  I only really care about Rory and Stephen, anyway.  ;o)