Shade’s Children (1997), by Garth Nix

Fifteen years before the story opens, the Change occurred.  Adult’s disappeared.  Children were rounded up by the Overlords, and corralled into dormitories.  At 14, they are sent to the “Meat Factory,” the “Central Processing Facility,” where their brains are used to create the Overlords’ “creatures”: Myrmidons, Trackers, and Wingers, who fight for the Overlords in their unending battles for power.  Occasionally, though, a child escapes…
Gold-Eye is one such child, but his chances are slim until he is rescued by a group of teens who call themselves Shade’s Children. They take him home to their base, where he is trained to fight alongside Ella, Drum, and Ninde against the Overlords.  But Shade is not all that he appears to be, and ultimately the friends learn that they must make their own decisions regarding not only their lives, but what it means to be human.
This is an excellent story, well constructed and suspenseful.  In terms of psychological realism, it rises above many of its contemporaries, and mature young readers will be pleased that Nix dumbs down neither his writing style, nor his content; you cannot trust that all will be well in the end, but you can trust that it will all make sense.


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