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The Shadows Of Innocence

By Sharkerbob, author of Graven

Sep 15, 2019: The New Humans was a hard sell for me. I’m not much for child protagonists, school-setting stories, or child protagonists in school-setting stories. And while I don’t think there needs to be explosions in every chapter, slow-burn character dramas tend to feel like a slog to go through, even when you throw super powers into the mix.

I’m glad I gave the story a second chance, however. The New Humans is a well crafted tale that does a fine job exploring themes of prejudice, child psychology and development, cultural conflict, and ultimately, the insidious mechanisms of psychological control.

Each of the child characters read like actual children, which is refreshing to see so well applied. It lends an interesting perspective to proceedings of the story. As an adult, it’s easy to forget what it was actually like as a child, the wonder, the innocence, the terror, and the ability to be a terror to others without even realizing it. Throw in super powers and an alternate history where the emergence of superhumans is putting the fear of god into the human populace, and all the societal conflicts that entails, and it definitely feels like a fresh approach to the genre compared to the usual jaded teenager or washed up adult struggling against that same world.

The setting itself is also quite interesting, once the author starts peeling back the curtain. Without going into spoilers, there’s a lot more going on in the background that lead to this world of superhumans, and the alternate history created by their presence makes for some fascinating backstory. Aiding in this are numerous footnotes throughout the chapters filling in the details, that in other serials would probably have been crammed into the narration somewhat awkwardly, or put into Lore Articles half the readership might not have bothered with. I actually haven’t seen another serial do that technique, and its a nice touch.

All that aside, I will say that what initially put me off, and what still made it a bit of a slog on the re-read, is the slower pace, and the feeling at first like the story is just kind of meandering between characters and plot points, until about two thirds into Book One, when the various threads start weaving together.

Likewise, there is a twist on the premise of the story that I won’t spoil, but I will say that finding out that twist ahead of time is the only reason I gave the serial a second chance. I’m glad I did now, but I’m not sure if keeping that twist a secret until near the end of Book One is the better choice. The hints are drip-fed to the reader later on, but it takes a while, even then.

Anyway, I would recommend this book to this with an interest in a slower-burn dramatic story, and those who’d like to see one of the better rendered child-perspective stories out there.

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