The great thing about all the Shadow Unit books is the characters. There are 9 main characters, and these are all real, fully-realized people. All the writers for the show-- Bull, Bear, Shetterly Bobet,Downum, Polk-- are published professionals. This really IS "the best TV show you've never seen." IF you buy volume one, you WILL want to go on reading. As I write, there are 10 volumes, with an 11th promised Real Soon Now.
I should have reviewed the first 10 Shadow Unit books right after I bought them. After all, I'd already read the episodes and the DVD extras online at shadowunit.org (remember, this is no exactly a book series, it's a TV show-- broadcast on the WTF Network, in an alternate universe!--and available on the Web in our universe).
But I just HAD to reread the whole thing....
Anyway-- if you like scary SF shows about FBI profilers, you WILL like this. The characters are great, and at the beginning of an episode you (and they!) do NOT know what is going to happen. Because literally anything, possible or impossible might happen.
Here's a good, brief summary of the show, taken from the Getting Started page at shadowunit.org
"Shadow Unit is a science fictional story about a group of unrealistically sexy FBI agents struggling to protect humanity from the worst monsters imaginable. Except some of our heroes may be on the road to becoming monsters themselves...."
Sounds interesting? Well you could just go to the websitte and read. But maybe it's more convenient for you to read as an e-book. Try it. I suspect you WUILL get hooked. If so, you'll agree that the people doing this deserve your support, and one painless way to do that is to buy the book version
Actually, this volume of the series may deserve SIX stars. Bear and Bull are high-quality professional authors, and "Refining Fire" is as good a novel as either has ever written. Including the ones nominated for or winning Hugos and Nebulas.
Don't start with this though. Read this series in order, because you won't really appreciate volume 3 unless you have read volumes 1 and 2 first.
For people wondering why you should buy these instead of just reading them online-- the authors deserve it. They especially deserve it because they ARE willing to let you try before you buy. For what some people will probably think is an even bigger reason to buy these here, see my review of Shadow Unit 5....
Why buy all the books in this series? After all, you COULD just read them online at shadowunit.org, for free. But apart from the fact that the authors deserve your support, there's one other feature you will NOT find on the main website. A lot of the characters have their own LiveJournals. You can read those blog entries online. But if you buy the books, you get selected LiveJournal entries where they fit in the full series continuity. Especially for somebody who is not reading this series online as each new episode appears, and following all the LiveJournals in real time, it's good to read that extra material. This series is all about character, and you will understand those characters better if you read everything in order.
I've written review on five of the 10 currently-published volumes of this series. There's really not much new that's left to say. But let me repeat-- Start with
Shadow Unit 1, and I strongly suspect you will keep reading. This series does not get old or stale in the later volumes. It just gets better, as you got to know the characters better and better.
The biggest reason I continue to review this wonderful series (or TV show? or webfiction? or WHAT?) is that somebody who has not yet read Shadow Unit One might see that there are a few five-star reviews of the earlier volumes, and if they don't see a review for one of the later books, they may think it's not as good as earlier volumes.
Trust me-- these are ALL good. Read them ALL. You owe it to yourself.
It's hard to write reviews of a series like this. ALL the episodes, in ALL the books are good. I don't want to give the impression that they're all perfect. This is, basically, a TV show. It's from an alternate universe, but aimed at the general public. So all the episodes are sort of similar to one another in the way they progress. Like SVU episodes are all a lot alike, say. Except that this is a LOT better TV show than that. The characters are not only well-realized, something I said in my review of Shadow Unit One, they are the sort of people you will really care about. And the things that happen to them are highly variable. And all the DVD extras and LiveJournal entries give you perspectives which you just don't get from the ordinary episodes. Don't buy this if you haven't read the earlier volumes. Go read those. And THEN buy this.
You MUST have read some of my earlier reviews of this series by now, if you are reading this one. So try the books themselves! I don't know anything quite like them. Suggestions for comparison, anyone?
This volume ends on a real down note. In fact, though I didn't mention it in my reviews of earlier volumes, the last several volumes get real dark. (I've been trying to keep these spoiler-free.
When Volume 11 appears (and The Powers That Be inform us that it should be out any time now) things will begin to get better. But you may very well cry at the end of Shadow Unit 10. Keeping in mind that this is only a TV show (an IMAGINARY TV show!) might help. But you may cry anyway. Because you will almost certainly care about these characters if you read the series.