3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Shadow Game is about Elle, a military operative who was called to Iraq to take down a terrorist organization alongside her close-knit team. While attempting to pursue her list of targets, she has to struggle not to let her emotions get in the way of her performance. In this line of work, any tiny mistake can be fatal, for both her and her team. Author A.M. Adair tells this story from Elle's perspective, giving it a more personal and immersive feel throughout.
I was really impressed by how tense and well-executed this book's action sequences are. They're highly immersive and gripping, with a focus on what Elle is thinking and feeling, and they play into her character development seamlessly, driving the narrative forward. I was especially struck by a scene where she snuck through an alleyway to a target's house, examining every angle to avoid multiple groups of guards. Throughout the book, each mission balances logistics with Elle's perception of events, making for a crisp and immersive experience.
With regards to the book's characters, though, I'm honestly rather ambivalent. There are some very interesting side characters, like the sociopath that Elle nicknamed "Red Shirt", but I felt like most of them just weren't developed at all. This made them feel more like set pieces than elements of a living, breathing world. In addition, while I thought the way Elle grappled with her emotions was interesting, the fact remains that this is a very stereotypical kind of conflict for a female character to go through. I'm also very tired of reading books where a female action protagonist has to rely on men desiring her sexually, rather than solely on her own skills.
In my opinion, this book's biggest problem is that it feels incomplete. When I reached the last page, I felt like I'd just finished reading the first half of a novel, instead of the first book in a series. The sudden setback that Elle faced towards the end felt more like a midpoint in her personal journey than a conclusion, and there were other underdeveloped aspects of the story that made me annoyed that I was ever invested in them, like her brief fling that never really went anywhere. I'm sure these will be expanded upon in the sequel, but I still didn't like how little development was given.
Overall, I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. It has some really impressive aspects, especially in how thorough its action sequences are, but it just feels too incomplete to give it a perfect rating. It goes without saying that it has a lot of violent content, so it's only appropriate for older readers, but any fan of military thrillers, especially those who appreciate well-written action sequences, should check it out.
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon