Genre: Young Adult

*I received a free copy of this book from the author for an honest review.

Casting Shadows Everywhere by L. T. Vargus is a thriller about a 15 year old boy named Jake. He has low self-esteem and considers himself weak and pathetic. He can’t bring himself to ask his dream girl Beth out on a date, and he is bullied at school. To change his life, he seeks out help from his cousin Nick, a professional burglar.

Nick takes Jake under his wing in an effort to help him become more confident. Unfortunately, Nick’s way of doing that is to break into people’s homes and steal valuables. Besides breaking into homes, Nick teaches Jake about his belief system that nothing is right or wrong. In the beginning, Nick’s ideas aid Jake in overcoming his “weakness” and allow him to stand up to his bullies. However, as time passes, Jake begins to get more aggressive, and he realizes that Nick has done more than just rob people.

This novel really surprised me. It’s written like journal entries without dates. The main character Jake is writing about his experiences with his cousin Nick and his friend Beth while including sections about his dreams and lessons from his psychology class. The writing style is interesting and fits with the tone of the story. Since it’s in Jake’s point of view, the writing can be crude at times, and there is some strong language, but it adds to the realness of the story and makes it believable.

All of the characters are well-developed and have unique personalities. Jake has a hard time standing up for himself and has a lot of self-doubt. He knows that Nick isn’t the best role model, but Nick is the closest thing Jake has to a father figure. He enjoys learning about psychology and relates everything back to his every day life. Nick, on the other hand, has a dark philosophy that he lives by and teaches Jake. Nick doesn’t believe in right and wrong. He only believes in events that have no meaning. Burglary doesn’t bother him, and once the twist is introduced, the reader finds out that robbing people isn’t the only thing Nick is okay with doing. Another important character is Beth. She has her own problems that she has to deal with in the story. She’s a smart girl with a lot of helpful advice for Jake about being able to change yourself for the better.

While there are some slow points, the novel is pretty fast-paced and full of twists. The twists in this story are some of my favorites of the year. They’re not predictable and are a nice addition to the plot. They fit in with the overall story and make sense for where the novel was headed. I’m sure all of the twists will shock a lot of readers. I know I was pretty shocked while reading. The ending is a nice wrap up and fits the tone of the story.

Casting Shadows Everywhere is not an every day young adult novel. While there are some crude moments and strong language, there are some meaningful themes throughout that make the reader think. The characters are unique additions to the story, and the twists keep the reader guessing at every turn. I would recommend this to anyone that enjoys surprises and interesting characters within their stories.

My Rating:  ★★★★

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