Garth Nix’s Shade’s Children predates the late-Aughts YA dystopia boom by roughly a decade, but it would have fit right in alongside those later, post-9/11 stories. Set in a near-future version of our own world, ruled over by the battle-minded Overlords, who disappeared the world’s older teens and adults 15 years ago, Shade’s Children centers on a group of four teenagers—Ella, Drum, Ninde, and Gold-Eye—who have escaped certain death in the dormitories and now serve the mysterious hologram-person known as Shade. Living in seclusion on a submarine, Shade’s children must learn to fight the Overlords’ monsters, all made from teenagers just like them, in order to one day reverse the Change: the cataclysmic event that brought the Overlords to Earth in the first place.
Shade’s Children is not a love story, but it is a part of mine. My husband and I knew one another for more than a decade before we married, and we spent roughly half that time, not as lovers, but as friends. Looking back on it, however, I’ve come to realize that the moment he leaned over and asked me, earnestly, if I’d ever read Shade’s Children, was the moment I began to fall in love with him.