I acquired an Advance Review Copy of this book from the publisher at ALA in January. This review is based on that version. The official version is out now.
Concerning Character: Zach is a really likeable guy. I felt for him being one of very few teenagers (and even fewer gay teenagers) on the island where he lives, and I loved the depiction of his relationship with his little brother Gilbert. He's pretty much a regular kid, but desperately lonely. So when he meets Emory, his potential astral love interest, I wanted to cheer for sure. The characters are quickly drawn, but effectively, making this a fast and absorbing read rather than a study of character or an in-depth examination of what it's like to be a gay teen. As I mentioned, it's not an "issue book." But that's one of the things I liked about it. Not to beat it over the head, but we need many more books like this in which being a gay teen is treated as normal.
Recommended for Fans Of...: Lois Duncan's books about paranormal powers, especially those about astral projection like Stranger With My Face. Suspenseful books about battling mysterious dark creatures who live in the liminal spaces, like Scott Westerfeld's Midnighters trilogy.
Themes & Things: I'd say this book is more plot-driven, but one of the key themes is, of course, first love, and learning that it's what's inside a person's heart that's important, not what they look like or whether they're differently abled or gay or straight or what. Family bonds are also a big part of this book, and so is the idea of having the courage to do the right thing and to be your own person.
Authorial Asides: Brent Hartinger is a fellow Flux author and all-around nice guy. (And I'm not just saying that because it's in his bio. He really is.) He's also the author of Geography Club, Project Sweet Life, and a number of other books. You can visit his website and pick his brain on a number of writerly and non-writerly topics, and you can follow him on Twitter.
You can find Shadow Walkers at an independent bookstore near you!