Review: Shade Me – Jennifer Brown

shade meNikki Kill does not see the world like everyone else. In her eyes, happiness is pink, sadness is a mixture of brown and green, and lies are gray.

Thanks to a phenomenon called synesthesia, Nikki’s senses overlap, in a way that both comforts and overwhelms her.

Always an outsider, just one D shy of flunking out, Nikki’s life is on the fast track to nowhere until the night a mysterious call lights her phone up bright orange—the color of emergencies.

It’s the local hospital. They need Nikki to identify a Jane Doe who is barely hanging on to life after a horrible attack.

The victim is Peyton Hollis, a popular girl from Nikki’s school who Nikki hardly knows. One thing is clear: Someone wants Peyton dead. But why? And why was Nikki’s cell the only number in Peyton’s phone?

As she tries to decipher the strange kaleidoscope of clues, Nikki finds herself thrust into the dark, glittering world of the ultrarich Hollis family and drawn towards Peyton’s handsome, ne’er-do-well older brother, Dru.

While Nikki’s colors seem to help her unravel the puzzle, what she can’t see is that she may be falling into a trap. The only truth she can be sure of is that death is a deep, pulsing crimson.

Shade Me is award-winning author Jennifer Brown’s first book in a thrilling suspense series about Nikki Kill.

Rating: 2/5

Oh boy. The reason so many YA thrillers let me down is that we have teenagers who think they know better than the police. And then end up in situations where they need to be saved/end up injured/someone tries to kill them. All three of which happen in this book.

Our heroine doesn’t share her information with the police, believing them to be incompetent because they failed to solve the murder of her mother. So once she becomes involved in the case of Peyton Hollis, daughter of a Hollywood darling who is beaten and left for dead, our MC Nikki goes off and does her own thing to solve the case, which includes going undercover as a call-girl, breaking into apartments, lying her way into places she’s not supposed to be and generally doing stupidly risky things. Which did not impress this reader one iota. Also, there is a case of ‘let me hook-up with the brother of the victim and potential attempted murder suspect because why not?’. Stupid decision making all round.

Beware that this novel is also fairly dark, in case you didn’t catch that already – there’s instances of child abuse and prostitution, drug deals, physical violence, etc.

And while I find the concept of synesthesia interesting (Where one’s senses get muddled, so you can smell colours or taste sounds, for example) – it was turned into an almost psychic ability here, which sort of defeats the point of depicting a condition like this.

On the plus side, the writing style did keep me reading from beginning to end, and our character is rather sex-positive, fiery and determined (mostly to her detriment), but apart from that, this book was an unrealistic let-down.

ARC received from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. 


8 thoughts on “Review: Shade Me – Jennifer Brown

  1. It’s always the worst when the heroine of a mystery acts too stupid to live D: The synaesthesia sounds so fascinating, but sorry to hear that it was botched up as well. Thanks for the honest review!


  2. This sounds like it would annoy the heck out of me. I don’t like ti when a story depicts teenagers so unrealistically plodding along in an investigation. A heroine acting stupidly makes me grit my teeth. Sorry to hear this didn’t work out for you. Great honest review! 🙂


    1. Thanks for stopping by! I don’t read a lot of YA thrillers for this very reason – I need an ounce of realism for it to work for me, and needlessly putting oneself in dangerous situations is just a turn-off for me.


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