Shadow Club
Neil Schusterman

A club that started out doing harmless pranks turns into something that is not funny, but actually quite dangerous. How did this Shadow Club come to exist and how did things take a turn for the worse? This story is told from the point of view of the leader of the Shadow Club, Jared. Jared and his friend Cheryl come up with the idea of starting a club for all the “second-best” kids in school, the kids who are always the runners-up and who are tortured by the person who always gets first place. Their original intentions are to start a club of second-best kids who hang out together and have fun, but that is not enough to keep everyone’s interest. So Jared makes a desperate attempt to keep the club going by suggesting they do pranks on their first place tormentors. Putting there various talents together they come up with silly pranks to humiliate their enemy’s who have humiliated them many times in the past. The pranks are harmless at first but then some mysterious person starts pulling pranks that are dangerous, injuring the kids targeted. Who is pulling the pranks? What will happen to the Shadow Club? Can the hate you hold inside turn you into someone that you never thought you would be?

The story starts out giving background on the two main characters Jared and Cheryl. It also introduces Cheryl’s brother Randall and her first place tormentor Rebecca in the first chapter. Then the story gives you background on the rivalry of Jared with Austin in the second chapter. They are both runners, Austin is the best and he makes sure that Jared knows it every chance he gets. The frustration that Jared and Cheryl feel is heightened as they continually have to deal with their first place tormentors. They start to come up with hypothetical situations of disaster for their first place enemies. Cheryl is the first one to come up with the idea of the Shadow Club and after Jared has another humiliating moment with Austin he decides the club sounds like a good idea after all. They pick out their members and have meetings in an old abandoned stone foundation they have named Stonehenge. Since Cheryl’s mother is a lawyer Cheryl comes up with a charter for everyone to sign. They burn pictures of their rivals at the first meeting and then the next step is pulling pranks. Then someone starts pulling dangerous pranks that the club had not agreed upon. The only suspect is Tyson, a troubled student who had eavesdropped on one of the Shadow Club meetings. The evil pranks continue and the principle has found out about the Shadow Club. The members become increasingly mad at Tyson, until they ambush him and nearly drown him. It is not until it is almost too late that Jared realizes that all the evil pranks that have been pulled have all been pulled by different members of the Shadow Club! The Shadow Club has turned into a gang of kids whose hate has made them act foolishly. In the end Tyson confesses to starting school fires and the Shadow Club has to face the consequences of their own poor choices. There is a lot to learn about owning up to mistakes and being the bigger person in the story, The Shadow Club.

I can really relate to the characters in to this story. My best friend in High School was always the best at everything. For some reason she was jealous of me and made fun of me and made my life miserable. Sometimes I wished I could do mean things to her for all the things she did to me. I think this would be a great book for upper elementary of junior high because it deals with the social aspect of school and could help students think about how they should treat others. It is also a good story for showing how bad choices have bad consequences. - FT