Shade's Children

Shade's Children

by Garth Nix


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From renowned fantasy author of the Old Kingdom series, Garth Nix, comes a dystopian fantasy perfect for fans of Hunger Games and Divergent.

Imagine a world where your fourteenth birthday is your last and where even your protector may not be trusted….

In a futuristic urban wasteland, evil Overlords have decreed that no human shall live a day past their fourteenth birthday. On that Sad Birthday, the children of the Dorms are taken to the Meat Factory, where they will be made into creatures whose sole purpose is to kill.

The mysterious Shade—once a man, but now more like the machines he fights—recruits the few teenagers who escape into a secret resistance force. With luck, cunning, and skill, four of Shade's children come closer than any to discovering the source of the Overlords' power—and the key to their downfall. But the closer they get, the more ruthless Shade seems to become.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062075987
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/15/2012
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 194,306
Product dimensions: 5.46(w) x 7.76(h) x 0.91(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Garth Nix is a New York Times bestselling novelist and has been a full-time writer since 2001, but has also worked as a literary agent, marketing consultant, book editor, book publicist, book sales representative, bookseller, and as a part-time soldier in the Australian Army Reserve.

Garth’s many books include the Old Kingdom fantasy series, beginning with Sabriel and continuing to Goldenhand; the sci-fi novels Shade’s Children and A Confusion of Princes; the Regency romance with magic Newt’s Emerald; and novels for children including The Ragwitch, the Seventh Tower series, the Keys to the Kingdom series, and Frogkisser!, which is now in development as a feature film with Fox Animation/Blue Sky Studios. Garth has written numerous short stories, some of which are collected in Across the Wall and To Hold the Bridge. He has also cowritten several children’s book series with Sean Williams, including TroubleTwisters and Have Sword, Will Travel.

More than six million copies of his books have been sold around the world and his work has been translated into forty-two languages. You can find him online at

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Gold-Eye crouched in a corner under two birdshit-caked blankets, watching the fog streaming through the windows. Sixteen gray waterfalls of wet air cascading in slow motion. One for each of the windows in the railway carriage.

But the fog had only a small part of his attention, something his eyes looked at while he strained his ears trying to work out what was happening outside. The carriage was his third hideout that day, and the Trackers had been all too quick to find the other two.

They were out there now, whistling in the mist; whistling the high-pitched, repetitive notes that meant they'd lost their prey. Temporarily . . .

Gold-Eye shivered and ran his finger along the sharpened steel spike resting across his drawn-up knees. Cold steel was the only thing that could kill the Overlords' creatures‹some of the weaker ones, anyway, like Trackers. Not Myrmidons . . .

As if on cue, a deeper, booming noise cut through the Trackers' whistles. Myrmidon battle sound. Either the force behind the Trackers was massing to sweep the area, or they'd encountered the forces of a rival Overlord.

No, that would be too much to ask for -- and the whistles were changing too, showing that the Trackers had found a trail. . . . His trail . . .

With that thought Gold-Eye's Change Vision suddenly gripped him, showing him a picture of the unpleasantly close future, the soon-to-be-now.

Doors slid open at each end of the carriage, forced apart by metal-gauntleted hands four times the size of Gold-Eye's own. Fog no longer fell in lazy swirls, but danced and spiraled crazily as huge shapes lumbered in, moving to the pile of blankets. . . .

Gold-Eye didn't wait to see more. He came out of the vision and took the escape route he'd planned months before, when he'd first found the carriage. Lifting a trapdoor in the floor, he dropped down, down to the cold steel rails.

Back in the carriage, the doors shrieked as they were forced open, and Gold-Eye both heard and felt the drumbeat of Myrmidon hobnails on the steel floor above his head.

Ignoring the new grazes on his well-scabbed knees, he began to crawl across the concrete ties, keeping well under the train. The Trackers would wait for the Myrmidons now, and Myrmidons were often slow to grasp what had happened. He probably had three or four minutes to make his escape.

The train was a long one, slowly rusting in place between Central and Redtree stations. Like all the others, it was completely intact, if a little timeworn. It had just stopped where it was, all those years ago.

Not that Gold-Eye knew it as a form of transport. It was just part of the fixed landscape to him, one of the many hiding places he moved among. Gold-Eye didn't have memories of a different time, except for the hazy recollection of life in the Dorms -- and his escape with two older children. Both of them long since taken . . .

At the end of the train, he got down on his belly under the locomotive, steel spike clutched in his fist, white knuckles showing through the ingrained dirt.

Peep, peep, peep, peep, peep, peep . . .

The Trackers were on the move again, spreading out to search. It sounded like a trio on each side of the train, coming toward him.

Gold-Eye pictured them in his head, trying to get his Change Vision to show him exactly where they were.

But the Change Vision came and went when it chose, and couldn't be controlled. This time it didn't show him anything -- but a memory arose unbidden, a super-fast slide show of Trackers flashing through his mind.

Thin, spindly stick-humans that looked like half-melted plastic soldiers. Bright, bulbous eyes, too large for their almost-human eye sockets. Long pointed noses that were almost all red-flared nostril . . .

They could smell a human out with those noses, Gold-Eye knew. No matter where he hid.

That thought was foremost as Gold-Eye listened again. But he couldn't work out where the Trackers were, so he edged forward till he was almost out from under the train and could get his knees and feet up like a sprinter on the starting blocks. It was about thirty yards to the embankment wall. If he could cross that open space and get up it, the Trackers would go past to look for an easier way up -- and Myrmidons were very slow climbers.

At this time of day that left only Wingers to worry about, and they would be roosting in City Tower, avoiding the fog.

Then the Trackers whistled again, giving their found signal -- and Myrmidons boomed in answer, frighteningly close.

With that boom, Gold-Eye shot out like a rabbit, jinking and zigzagging over the railway lines, frantic with a terrible realization.

The Myrmidons had crept through the train!

He could hear their boots crashing onto the gravel around the tracks as the huge creatures jumped down from the lead carriage, the bass shouts of their battle cries joining the frenzied whistles of the Trackers.

Heart pounding, face white with sudden exertion, Gold-Eye hit the embankment at speed, reaching head height before he even needed to take his first hold. Then, as his feet scrabbled to take him higher, he reached out . . . and slipped.

The fog had laid a film of moisture on the old stones of the embankment, and in his panic Gold-Eye had run to one of the hardest spots to climb. His fingers couldn't find any cracks between the stones. . . .

Slipping, his feet touched bottom, and he added his own wail of despair to the awful noise of the creatures behind him.

Soon the Myrmidons would surround him, silver nets shooting out to catch him in their sticky tracery. Then a Winger would come to take him away. Back to the Dorms. Or if he was old enough . . . straight to the Meat Factory.

Shade's Children. Copyright © by Garth Nix. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

Scott Westerfeld

“This pitch-dark, post-apocalyptic thriller will keep you reading and wild-eyed. Fast, brutal and brilliant.”

Customer Reviews

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Shade's Children 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 132 reviews.
Betsaronie More than 1 year ago
No adults, no freedom, and no sense of security. Sounds pretty awful doesn't it? In Garth Nix's Shade's Children that's exactly what the world has become. In this futuristic sci-fi semi-thriller, teens are harvested for their organs and muscles on their 14th birthday. Sometimes they are kept alive as long as 18 in order to breed more body parts so that the Overlords can play games. When the Overlords came, all the adults disappeared, children and teens were then rounded up and taken to prison/factories, called the Dorms, so they could use them create creatures, powered by human parts, in an effort to win territory during battles. Few have escaped the Dorms, and run the streets fearing they will be caught. Gold-Eye is one such escapee. While running from Myrmidons, powerful machine-like creatures, he is saved by other escapees, Ella, Drum and Ninde. They are Shade's Children. They take him back to their hideout and introduce him to Shade; once a man, but now more of a memory preserved in a machine, he fights against the Overlords through his Children. Gold-Eye joins his saviors' team as the go on missions to discover why the Overlords are here and what can be done to stop them. More and more Children never return from these missions. Shade, who at first seems like the answer to every runaway's problems, starts to seem more and more like a ruthless machine, determined to win no matter what the cost. Nix creates a believable, and frightening world that makes the atrocities of the Overlords cut to the heart of the reader. The characters are developed in a way similar to how you get to know a person. Gold-Eye is the main character, and so we meet people through him, but at the same time we learn more about his past and how far he is willing to go for those he becomes close to. Not everything is revealed right away, you learn bits and pieces as the story progresses, and you begin to care about what happens to them as naturally as you would a real person. Their humanity is a stark contrast to the very idea the Overlords present. The action is non-stop, making the book incredibly hard to put down. The creatures and fights are described to a thrilling tee. In between chapters there are Archives, reflections of characters' pasts, Shade's thoughts, or what a camera placed around the city sees. This helps readers find a breaking point in all that action for the times when in fact, they must stop reading (like when you need to go to bed.) But then you can pick right up and be running with Ella, Drum, Ninde and of course Gold-Eye and their struggle to defeat the Overlords and save all the children still held prisoner in the Dorms, awaiting their Sad Birthday.
FadedPages More than 1 year ago
I first read this book as a freshman in high school and ten years later I still read it again from time to time. The story never gets old. It always manages to draw you in, scare/creep you out and make you want to read more!
PlumPudding More than 1 year ago
This was an enjoyable book! I wish I knew more about the Overlords and how they got there and everything about that, but it was still a good book to read. Also, I got bothered that Gold-Eye's character seemed to fade as the story went on. He seemed less of a "character" and more of a vessel for plot. Shade, on the contrary, grew stronger as a character as the book progressed, which was really nice to read. The concepts and everything were very fascinating, and I loved the little bits where the Overlords revealed a little bit of the opinions they had towards the children. I just wish I knew a little more about what happened--WHY everyone over 14 vanished. But all in all, I really enjoyed this book. The atmosphere was well-crafted (and well maintained, besides. No ill-timed jokes or anything) and it was very compelling. I recommend it. :)
Allie Michaud More than 1 year ago
I read this book when it first came out years ago and loved every moment of it. It still continues to be one of my favortie books!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hand's down, one of my all time favorite books. Garth Nix really instills the fear of being there in you as you read. I've already read this multiple times and still have yet to get bored. A must read in my opinion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book. Should make a movie out of it!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didn't go into the book expecting it to be as good as it ended up being.
Guest More than 1 year ago
FREAKIN' AWESOME. Well at first I thought that I wasn't going to like it,but the description of the characeters and the scenes won me over. The bravery of the kids made me love them, the evil ways of the 'villians' made me hate them. What more could you want. This book made me escape from reality and I didn't want to come back until I knew what would happen next. It was a wild ride all the way to the end. I would defintly recommend this book to anyone and everyone who wants to take a break from the real world. This book was defintly a page turner.
Guest More than 1 year ago
way cool. Overlords come and use kids brains in robot creatures when they turn 14. its great. escapees have to unite to stop them, which sounds kind of stupid but it is NOT. best book ever. the main charachters name is gold-eye, which is awesome.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's too bad they only have five stars, because this book would get a 10 in my oppinion. A richly entertaining book that carries you through a mysterious world of scifi fantasy where except for the select few no one is over 14. This book was one of those that made me sit there for five hours nonstop reading til I finished. The very end, the vision is the best ending, a great way to wrap it up. It does mention two of the characters having sex but no details and it's there to show the how close the two characters are getting, so it's sutible for I'd say 12 and up. A great book all around. I give it a 10 out of 5.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is awesome! No matter how hard you try, this book can't be put down because it is so exciting. if you're into fiction, sci-fi, and all that jazz, then this is a must read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow! This book has to be one of the greatest books I have ever read. It is wonderfully suspenseful and keeps you reading for hours and hours and hours. It has a wonderful storyline that keeps you interested through the whole thing!
Guest More than 1 year ago
when i found this book i felt like i had won the lottery(hehehe).this is my favorite book of all time!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
EmScape on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
[Possible spoilers] Sometime in the near future a phenomenon has occurred instantaneously removing all adults from the world leaving the children at the mercy of a mysterious group they refer to as Overlords. Some children escape their fate as mere body parts bred to become soldiers in the battles these Overlords have against each other. Their "protector" is Shade, whose personality resides in a computer and sends these children out on missions to learn more about the Overlords and possibly how to defeat them. Now, what I've just given you is much more explanatory than the back of the book reveals, and this information is just dribbled out throughout the story. Chapters alternate between the action of the tale and logs and records kept in Shade's computer. At first these serve to set the scene and give more information about this odd world we've been dropped into. As we progress, though, and more is revealed about the nature of Shade as well as the Overlords, action actually begins to take place in the computer world. I found some of these chapters an enhancement to the story, but quite a few, particularly in the middle, seemed as though Nix couldn't think of anything else to reveal through this device. The children seem less like characters and more devices for moving the plot forward. Shade is the most developed and dynamic, but also the least comprehensible. This is a shorter book than I'm used to from Nix, so it's possible he sacrificed some characterization in favor of a lower page count. Except for the aforementioned archive chapters, the book is almost all suspenseful, dangerous, mission-y action. These kids are in danger almost constantly, and with as much is made of how many children failed to survive similar missions in the past, this seems rather unrealistic. Of course, you wouldn't have any characterization at all if your protagonists die in the first chapter, but the author might have compensated for that by not listing the loads of previous "lost" teams. Overall, though, the book was entertaining to read, and the complete unbelievability of the whole thing can be overlooked, particularly by younger readers. I would recommend this more for true young adults who don't tend to be as critical as I am.
shes-an-actress on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fantastic book suitable for the 16+ audience.Nix didn't dissapoint! Scary monsters and creepy situations, brilliantly described and full of imagination.A little closer to the Abhorsen Triliogy than the Keys to the Kingdom series - the writing style sits nicely in the middle of the two.
Wosret on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved Garth Nix's Sabriel series, The Seventh Tower and The Keys to the Kingdom. This book was kind of similar, but really felt rather different. Very dark and bleak at times. I kept dwelling on the basic premise of the book: one day, everyone over 15 just vanished off the face of the earth. I have two small children, and if that happened, they would die painful deaths due to starvation and neglect. It wasn't the only thing about this book that disturbed me.So I guess that makes it effective, right? I was just left feeling so uncomfortable by the story that I couldn't really enjoy it.
Gracie123 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great book with a terrible ending. If only they'd worked a little bit harder on that it could have been excellent.
dknippling on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Eh...I have some pretty high expectations of Garth Nix. This was a readable adventure book with solid characters, no problems there. Some of the world building didn't make sense when you got down to the root cause but worked fine on the surface level. However, not as good as the Abhorsen or Keys series.
kayceel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Gold-Eye has managed to escape the dormitories where he grew up and so has avoided the Sad Birthday in which children are 'harvested' for the rulers' creepy machine soldiers.From blog: "Book club members powered through their post-Thanksgiving-turkey-comas to meet at the Main library November 28th to discuss Garth Nix¿s 1997 scifi novel Shade's Children. Set in a future where adults have disappeared and children are raised to be `harvested¿ by evil Overlords, young Gold-eye joins up with other young teens on the run, all who follow the mysterious Shade in the hopes of gaining their freedom by destroying the Overlords.Our discussion, led by book club member Zach, ranged from "what would you do?" to problems with characterization and ¿what happened to that plot point?!¿, but overall, most enjoyed this creepy dystopia (kayceel included).Already read Shade's Children? Why not try some of these titles? Anything we missed?The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson.Battle Royale by Takami KoshunBlack Hole Sun by David Macinnis Gill.Blood Red Road by Moira Young.The City of Ember by JeanneDuPrau.The Diary of Pelly D by L.J. Adlington.The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer.The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.Runaways: Pride & Joy by Brian K. Vaughan.Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi.Uglies by Scott Westerfeld.
travis_outlaw on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
very good. will read again.
LilyEvans on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am very interested in end of the world (dystopian, is it the word?) tales, and I found this one pretty interesting. The different types of creatures, such as Wingers, Myrmidons, Screamers, and Ferrets, were equally fascinating. I did like how the book shifted points of view every other chapter, from a third-person point of view to a computer-generated interview or a delving deep into the mind of one of Shade¿s other ¿children¿. The characters were believable and kept me interesting, though it was unfortunate I had to spread it out in bits over the week as I didn¿t have enough time in one block. It was a quick, easy read and interesting as well. There was nothing bad but nothing particularly special either.
riaanw on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Garth Nix has gained a reputation as a reliable author of fantasy for teenagers -- for example, the Abhorsen trilogy. Now, Shade's Children is set in a world where a mysterious event instantly wiped out every person on Earth older than 14, leaving all the children under the despotic control of the enigmatic Overlords, who may or may not be cruel aliens. The aforementioned event also unlocked useful powers in some of the children's minds -- powers used by those who have escaped the Overlords to live a precarious life outside the net while trying to learn more about their fate. Nix has crafted an interesting plot, though the target market ensures that some of the darker themes are never fully developed. As an adult novel, it could have been a mind-bending Lord of the Flies.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This remains one of the most disturbing books I've ever read. Maybe it had to do with my age at the time -- I was 14 myself -- but I literally had nightmares for years later. I regret nothing. It's more than a good scare, though. I think one of the reasons it's so creepy is because of it's not the hero story you're expecting. It is gritty and gruesome and nearly hopeless. You really feel the cost of the disaster, not only to the characters personally, but to the entire world, the walk-ons who die horrible deaths, and even to the nameless monsters built out of kids' body parts. Only one other post-apocalyptic novel I've ever read comes close to being this bleak. Again, no regrets for reading it, though! It's fantastic. I also loved the way it used narratives and perspectives. Talk about a book that will stick with you.
BooksAplenty More than 1 year ago
Set in a future dystopia, where the Overlords have decreed that no human can live past their 14th birthday, four fugitive teens set out to set society back on track. Under the watchful eyes of their once-human mentor, Shade, they come face to face with all manner of evils. I really enjoy good dystopian fiction, but lately they all seem the same. Shade's Children was remarkably fresh and appropriately dark. The world of this book is the near-future, making the story terrifyingly believable. The story centers on the character of Shade, a former human now living in a complex computer server. Shade collects children who have escaped the hands of the Overlords. He trains these children to gather information on the Overlords in an attempt to overthrow them. These missions often result in death. This begs the question, "How much sacrifice is acceptable in the pursuit of freedom?" Character and back-story development emerge largely via interludes between each chapters. These include interviews with key characters, entries in Shade's journal, and records of video surveillance. Though these pieces annoyed me at first, but I quickly realized that they are vital and compelling elements of the story. I especially enjoyed the pieces that gave us insight into the true purpose of the Overlords. I absolutely loved Shade's Children. It even made me cry. The only thing that kept me from giving it a full 5 stars is that the ending was a bit too happily-ever-after for me. It reminded me of the last scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. 3 adjectives that describe this book: futuristic, gritty, action-packed