The Evolution of Shadows, Jason Quinn Malott – Book Review & Spotlight Series Tour

Spotlight Series Tour

The Spotlight Series was started as a way for bloggers to be able to promote books from deserving smaller and independent presses which might not receive as much attention as larger publishing companies.  I was only to happy to jump onboard this first tour to spread a little love for Unbridled Books.  They have a dedicated team of professionals who do a great job of picking books that are both thought-provoking and beautifully written.

Check out/read more book reviews from blogs participating in the Spotlight Tour for Unbridled Books visit The Spotlight Series Blog.

I was considering three books to read for this tour and finally settle on The Evolution of Shadows, by Jason Quinn Mallot.  Deceptively slight, The Evolution of Shadows certainly packs a punch.

In 1995 Gray Banick, a war photographer covering the Bosnian war, disappears.  Five years later,Cover Image - Evolution of Shadows, by Jason Quinn Malottthe people closest to him in the world have gathered in Sarajevo to search for the man who none of them can forget, because he taught each of them something key about life and love, and inevitably about themselves.

Gray Banick is a character who comes into focus slowly over the course of The Evolution of Shadows. Through the memories and internal dialogue of the other characters I was able to watch him take shape, and he wasn’t the warm and fuzzy type.  He is a bit cold, distant and definitely hardened by the war – but still I liked the relationship that he had with his friends, and it was because of those remembered relationships that I wanted them  to find him no matter how unlikely it seemed.

The dialogue and the story were simple and straightforward, and it initially seems as if they are masking the story until I realized that I had been immediately sucked in by the characters.  Granted a window into their lives, I realized how adept Mallot was at portraying them and their troubled histories in short and sure strokes.  I loved getting to know Emil Todorović, Banick’s interpreter and friend; his photography mentor, Jack MacKenzie;  and Lian Zhao, the reluctant lover who would break an already unstable heart.  The delicate relationships that they developed on their search were beautifully rendered and moving.  I was particularly interested in the way Lian’s strong sense of familial identity played so a crucial role in defining her relationship with Banick.

The Evolution of Shadows is a compelling weave of flavorful and diverse characters, each confronting the limitations of themselves and their cultural upbringings in order to come together to help find  a friend. Whether it’s through the refusal to let go of a relationship that can never be again, or hiding behind relationships and habits which are safe, they see each other.  This novel is short and very accessible.  I received this book from another blogger friend and thought that I could easily read it in an afternoon, but found that I wanted to savor the journey of these characters as opposed to rushing right through it.  Though it was filled with the devastation and difficult images of the war in Bosnia, the spare style only added to its urgent beauty.

Highly Recommended.

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1DA652C2516038AE4D02F55645591F39 Blogger Unplugged! December 23,      2009   Jan 2, 2010

I am an Amazon Associate.  This book is a part of my personal library collection.

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19 Comments

    1. I have found that you can't count those short books out. This one was very thoughtful. I am so glad you guys are doing this. Good job and Happy Birthday!
      My recent post The Evolution of Shadows, Jason Quinn Malott – Book Review & Spotlight Series Tour

  1. I really enjoyed this one. I accepted it for review months ago when I was taking books wily-nily and then I wasn't too sure about it. Boy was I glad that I had taken the chance. Love that it's also one that I could pass along to my hubby.
    My recent post An Unfinished Score

    1. I don't know what it is about about it that makes it seem as if it should be a little suspect, but I got that feeling too. Weren't we in a for a nice surprise.
      My recent post Her Fearful Symmetry, by Audrey Niffenegger – Book Review

  2. First of all, I'm sorry I have been neglecting you lately. I am determined to reclaim my life starting next week! (ha!) I'm intrigued with this particular book, and the fact that someone seemingly cold and distant could be remembered as one who taught his friends about life and love. And we get this by peeling back the layers. Nice review Nicole!
    My recent post Give Support to Children's Miracle Network

  3. First of all, I'm sorry I have been neglecting you lately. I am determined to reclaim my life starting next week! (ha!) I'm intrigued with this particular book, and the fact that someone seemingly cold and distant could be remembered as one who taught his friends about life and love. And we get this by peeling back the layers. Nice review Nicole!
    My recent post Give Support to Children's Miracle Network

    1. Not all. I saw your name come up and felt guilty- I have been just as bad!

      I have to say that in the beginning I was surprised that he drew so much from everyone because I didn't think that he was emotionally accessible at all. But what can I say, the author was talented.
      My recent post Her Fearful Symmetry, by Audrey Niffenegger – Book Review

  4. thank you so much for this thoughtful and beautifully written review! we appreciate your support!

    1. You're welcome! You all make it easy with such carefully considered selections.
      My recent post Her Fearful Symmetry, by Audrey Niffenegger – Book Review

  5. Wow. This sounds like a really powerful book. And your review is wonderful. This doesn't really sound like something I would usually pick up, but reading your revew definitely makes me want to give it a shot.
    My recent post Review: Dracula by Bram Stoker

    1. I was surprised that I enjoyed this one as much as I did. I was interested, but wary of how it would be handled and I had no need to worry.
      My recent post Her Fearful Symmetry, by Audrey Niffenegger – Book Review