Author: Alexia Reed
Series: Book #1 in the Shadow Ops series
Number of pages: 219 pages
Release Date: 7 May 2012
Source: ebook provided by publisher through NetGalley
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Audible, Kobo
Grade: 4 stars
Goodreads appetizer: Amy has spent her life in isolation. Locked away in the Centre, a secret government facility where children with extraordinary abilities are raised as highly skilled fighters, she longs for a normal life. A life where being around people doesn't overload her sensitive telepathic mind. A life where she can't see through the eyes of a murderer as he hunts down his next victim...
J.C. Nikolaiev was a top researcher, but when his conscience got the better of him, he tried to destroy his work and free his subjects—and was imprisoned as a traitor. To save himself and prevent more people from dying, J.C. must catch the serial killer stalking the halls of the facility. But his only leads come from a woman whose thoughts have invaded his mind...
Finally out of the psych ward, Amy joins forces with J.C. to find the killer before he closes in on them. Can their growing attraction withstand the truths they uncover?
The world-building created by Alexia Reed is fascinating and complex. She develops the details of how these enhanced humans, subject of this shadow government experiment became what they are and she makes it all seem possible with scientific explanations of genetics. The Centre is a reasearch lab: they create and exploit the talents and train them to be skilled agents with special powers. The extent of these talents are varied and exciting: some can freeze time, some can manipulate the atomic structure of matter, others are telepaths and I could go on. Alexia Reed gives each one of her characters an exciting power, the specifics of how that said power worked I much enjoyed reading about.
It took me some time getting a grip on the story and happenings at the beginning, the reader is thrust into the chaos: a killer is on the loose, agents are disappearings, the team is fighting, there are many secondary characters and it takes some getting used to to get the lay of the land and have a clear picture of who is who and their place in the hierarchy of the system.
J.C. was a character I immediately took a liking to. He had integrity and passion for his beliefs, he was more than a mere mindless soldier of the system and his sense of right and wrong and will not to sit by and let awful things happen made him a worthy hero in my eyes. Though he has the resolve and drive of a soldier he hasn't lost his moral compass and retained a generous and warm heart.
Amy was an interesting mix of vulnerability and strength. She spent her whole life isolated from the outside world and thus became sheltered and shy. But despite this she showed such inner strength and backbone I was truly impressed they didn't manage to break her during all the years she was subjected to Testings and other cruel experiments.
Though the chase was thrilling, at times I felt the mystery plot of Hunting the Shadows didn't run smoothly (at times it left off then picked up), and as the resolution of the why wasn't explained, I hope Alexia Reed will explore the reason behind the killings and why and how they happened in the next book(s) of the series.
I believe that beside the fascinating world-building it was the romance between J.C. and Amy that made Hunting the Shadows an extraordinary read. The connection and romantic relationship between J.C and Amy didn't develop overnight, it progressed gradually, through baby steps, first they relied on each other as human beings helping each other out, then they became friends who had to face the sizzling attraction between themselves to finally realize that the depth of their feelings and connection warranted the use of the word 'love'. Alexia Reed orchestrated the evolution of their relationship wonderfully, because beside being invested in reading how things progressed between them, I was satisfied at how realistic their romance felt: it wasn't rushed or forced as is the case in a lot of novels due to time restraints as the h/h have to get to the mandatory 'I love you's and marriage proposals. Here this wasn't the case.
The writing is captivating and beautifully descriptive
There was no relief in dreams. Amy slept fitfully, her mind in turmoil as she rolled over. The killer’s mind ensnared, held and she shuddered as she crawled back to consciousness, jerking out of the nightmare.making it easy for the reader to picture some scenes out of the ordinary or how the special talents of the agents work.
Verdict: I found Hunting the Shadows an exciting introduction to a new sci-fi/paranormal/romantic suspense series and I'm looking forward to reading the next books and discovering more about the complex and fascinating world and its rules that Alexia Reed has created.
Plot: 8/10 - the world-building was exciting, the mystery plot could have been better developed