Title: The Shepherd
Author: T.W. Luedke
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Paranormal
My Rating: 3 Stars
"Skate punks, kleptomaniacs, clairvoyant visions and reincarnation… …THE SHEPHERD is unlike any other Young Adult novel you have ever read. Mike Evans here. Sixteen year old skate punk squatting in a white-trash trailer park with my loser drunk Dad. Seems I lost most of my friends when Dad lost our home in foreclosure. Only Anita stuck by me. Worse, I keep having strange clairvoyant visions of things that always come true. Then I almost ran over Nadia in my Geo. A passing truck finished the job – left a crumpled heap of skin and bone on the road. I fixed her. Me. Now this fourteen year old girl won’t leave me alone. I sorta let her sneak in my window when she needs a place to crash. I have a double life: daytime at school, Anita, skating, and then my nights with Nadia. She's my secret friend, gives me money and listens to my problems when nobody else will. My world is spinning out of control. Old friends have turned enemy, my grisly visions of death won’t quit, and Anita’s intentions make my head spin. Even with all that, I’ve got bigger stuff to worry about. Nadia’s hiding something."
May not be suitable for younger readers (I’d say 14+)
I really loved the characters in The Shepherd, at least for the most of the book. Mike had a bad attitude, a few crappy friends, but always seemed genuine. He was caring for the friends he could trust, and though misguided with his affections for Rachelle, had a pretty clear and stable mindset. Which is why, for me personally, I had trouble believing his reactions to Nadia. At first, it was no big deal. Nadia had healed incredibly quickly? He noticed it was strange, but disregarded it, which I could understand as everyone heals differently, and while her healing from the wounds she had so quickly was pretty impossible, it wasn’t that crazy.
However, the further I got in the story, the weirder Nadia was. First, it was how grown-up she seemed for such a young girl. Then, it was how provocative she seemed, and how she kept talking about Misha and Mikhail, which while it was explained fairly well later on, this part confused me quite a bit at first, but it also left a lot of questions, for both Mike and the reader.
Then, we find out that Mike has visions, making him almost as strange as Nadia, which helped me understand why he might not have been so freaked out by Nadia’s weirdness, but when Nadia went insane *spoiler* (like murdering people from his high school insane) he seemed to get over it quickly and accept Nadia warmly even though she was a psycho. WHICH LEAVES ME QUESTIONING WHY THE HELL WOULD HE DO THAT? I get she was close to his mother, and all protective over him, but she still murdered someone over a dumb fight, which resulted in some pretty bad injures for Mike, but still, that doesn’t mean the guy deserved to be murdered. *end spoiler*
The most climatic part, I think, was when Mike was trying to warn his friends about Nadia, but it didn’t seem very realistic to me. I’m not exactly sure why, but it seemed like one minute he was absolutely panicking, and then the next he’s all over his girlfriend as if nothing was happening, and I get that maybe his hormones took over, but he made it out to be a life or death situation, but his actions weren’t constant with that feeling.
As for the setting, and the paranormal element, I thought both we’re weaved in nicely and weren’t too much or too little in terms of how well I could understand and visualize what was happening. The bit about Nadia and her past with Misha/Mikhail and then her connection the Mike’s mother threw me a bit, but it all made sense at the end.
Overall: I enjoyed reading this book. There’s was a lot about it that I didn’t like and couldn’t relate to, but it was entertaining. I would recommend this book for anyone who loves teenage paranormal stories (involving a unique vampire element and a lot of attitude). There was a strong teen feel, with the high school drama between friends, and so what.
Rating: 3 Stars
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