The Pentrals by Crystal Mack

Antares follows people for a living. Her job is to track one person’s movements. She has to monitor them as closely as possible, and there are drastic consequences if she strays from her job. No, Antares is not a spy or secret operative of some government organization. Instead, the main character of The Pentrals by Crystal Mack is something much more common – a shadow.

Antares is the Shadow assigned to Violet, a teenage girl living in the opulent, mirrored city of Talline. She is a Class Two Pentral, or a Shadow or Reflection assigned to mirror the movements of a living creature.  She doesn’t feel emotions, and her only form of interaction is the brief moments she crosses paths with other Shadows and can exchange thoughts.

After tragedy strikes Violet’s group of friends, Antares begins to notice drastic changes in her Person. Violet becomes withdrawn and starts taking Lift! – a drug that makes it impossible for Antares to remember anything that happens afterwards. Eventually, Antares has enough of Violet’s changed attitude and suddenly is filled with a blinding rage and tries to rip away from her Person. Violet falls and collides with the Shadow, and, after briefly losing consciousness, Antares wakes up in Violet’s body. Suddenly able to openly communicate, emote, and move freely for the first time, Antares comes face to face with a city-wide conspiracy and has to expose the truth before it is too late.

To say this book is unique would be an understatement. As soon as I realized the story was told from the point of view of a Shadow, I realized it was going to be unlike anything else I’d ever read. And I was right.

The futuristic setting is just one of the many appealing aspects of this book. In Talline, paper and ink are almost never used. Instead, everyone has Holopanes – tablet-like devices that are used to communicate, record events, browse databases, and do pretty much anything anyone could ever need. Instead of cars, citizens of Talline travel in self-driven carpods. Their technology is incredibly advanced, and it progresses even more throughout the course of the book.

The Pentrals handles a lot of topics that we all see daily. Body image and trying to understand what real love is are just two of the recurring themes. When Antares wakes up in Violet’s body, she realizes that her Reflection is hideous and monster-like, and, even though it looks nothing like Violet’s true appearance, she begins to believe that she really is ugly and unworthy of attention. Read the full review at The Daily Quirk!

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