Chasing Shadows – by Swati Avasthi & Illustrated by Craig Phillips


15756269Chasing Shadows is a searing look at the impact of one random act of violence.

Before: Corey, Holly, and Savitri are one unit—fast, strong, inseparable. Together they turn Chicago concrete and asphalt into a freerunner’s jungle gym, ricocheting off walls, scaling buildings, leaping from rooftop to rooftop.

But acting like a superhero doesn’t make you bulletproof…

After: Holly and Savitri are coming unglued. Holly says she’s chasing Corey’s killer, chasing revenge. Savitri fears Holly’s just running wild—and leaving her behind. Friends should stand by each other in times of crissi. But can you hold on too tight? Too long?

In this intense novel, told in two voices, and incorporating comic-style art sections, Swati Avasthi creates a gripping portrait of two girls teetering on the edge of grief and insanity. Two girls who will find out just how many ways there are to lose a friend . . . and how many ways to be lost.


Chasing Shadows is one of those books that I simply read for the cover. I mean look at that. It’s gorgeous! Before I read the synopsis, I had no idea it was contemporary. And as you know, I’m not the biggest fan of contemporary books. But every now and then, I find a contemporary book that I fall head over heels in love with. This was one of those books.

The thing that most made this book was the pictures. I’ve never read a graphic novel before, but I’m tempted to after looking at Craigh Phillips’s work. I actually found myself speed reading to get to the next frame of pictures. They were amazingly beautiful and so detailed. I was just blown away by the artwork in this book. It also blended very well with the story. You know, even though it switched from page long text to graphic images with bubble text, I still felt 100% in the story. I think it added to it in the sense that I was actually getting to see the characters. After reading this book, I really want to see more graphic images in YA books.

Swati Avasthi’s writing style was also unique and heart wrenching. While she doesn’t really write in poetry (although there were a few occurrences of that,) her writing style reminded me a lot of that of Ellen Hopkins. It was both lyrical and poetic. Whenever I would set this book down, I would find myself craving it. I needed to know what happened next. I needed to get to the next set of pictures. I found myself racing to the end to see what exactly was going to happen next. I loved it. I wish there were more books like this. No other word fits this better than beautiful.

There’s nothing really negative to say about Chasing Shadows, but I did wish that it stroked more emotion from me. The best contemporary novels have made me cry, and this one didn’t quite hit that level for me. I was completely invested in the characters, but I needed just a little bit of something else to trigger the water works. Some people might wonder WHY I would want to cry, but I’ve found that a contemporary book that makes you cry is one to keep with you forever. Crying means that that book was it’s best. And I feel like maybe…just maybe…this one needed a little more to be perfection.

Chasing Shadows is 100% realistic contemporary. It deals with trauma, friendship, loyalty, and mental illness. I’ll admit it, I’ve never read about mental illness before. Quite frankly, it scares the living daylights out of me. And since I’m not the biggest fan of contemporary, I don’t really immerse myself in that type of environment. Reading about it in Chasing Shadows was very intense and a little hard sometimes. This book had twists and turns that I didn’t really see coming (and some that I did,) and I just felt  emotionally exhausted after I finished it. After I finished it, all I could think is that this is something that I would want my students to be reading. I think that this book sends a great message to young adults, and it is just perfect for teenagers all over the world to read. It was so freaking beautiful.

This book came out in September, so it SHOULD  be available at your local bookstores and libraries. I would encourage every single person, whether you’re a contemporary fan or not, to go read this book. I’m not a contemporary fan, and I loved it. And I think that this is a great book to immerse yourself in artwork and excellent for fans of graphic novels. I loved it. I hope you love it, too.


Pages: 320

Publication Date: September 24th 2013

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Rating: [rating: 4]


Teaser Quote: “Corey did handstands four flights up, Holly crawled into someone else’s skin, and I swallowed stones of guilt just to hide from a simple fact: we are all vulnerable, and there is nothing between us and a bullet. It’s terrifying, this life. It’s precarious, it’s random un-design.”