Teen Volunteer Review: The Shadows Between Us

As part of our teen volunteer program, teens can submit book reviews, read-alikes lists, YA-inspired playlists and more! Download the registration form for details.

Today's volunteer review is of The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller.

One of the most common problems in YA novels is a boring protagonist, but Tricia Levenseller’s The Shadows Between Us has a protagonist like no other. Alessandra Stathos is witty, cunning, and proud of her femininity without ever putting down the women around her. As she climbs the noble social ladder in an attempt to marry—and then murder—the king to take control of the kingdom, she never once loses sight of her goals.

I have never read a novel with a protagonist who manages to both defy gender norms and support those who abide by them before, and I doubt I will ever find one quite so well written again. Even characters I was prepared to hate, such as the king, revealed themselves to be likable and goal-oriented, even when their morals were dubious at best. Levenseller never forgets her minor characters, and ensures that each and every one of them is not only believable and fleshed-out, but entertaining.

Throughout the story, there is never a dull moment. It is quick-paced, which makes it difficult to put down. Whenever I feared a moment of monotony approached, Levenseller pulled out a whole new twist that captured my attention.

I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who enjoys romance as well as individuals who enjoy moral ambiguity. The Shadows Between Us not only provides its audience with a thrilling love story, but also asks its readers how far, exactly, is too far? As I was reading, I often had to pause to ask myself who the real villains were. This is not to suggest that Alessandra and Kallias (the king) are at all dislikable; it is simply calling into question their practices as individuals who come from such privileged backgrounds. It makes the story all the more interesting to analyze.