Book Review : Shift by Em Bailey

Note: This post is an exception from my mid-exam blog ban. I finished this book within two days and I can't rave enough about its brilliance.

Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by Hardie Grant Egmont

Olive Corbett is definitely NOT crazy.

Not anymore. These days she takes her meds like a good girl, hangs out with her best friend Ami, and stays the hell away from the toxic girls she used to be friends with.

She doesn’t need a boyfriend. Especially not a lifesaver-type with a nice smile. And she doesn’t need the drama of that creepy new girl Miranda, who has somehow latched on to Olive's ex-best friend.

Yet from a distance, Olive can see there's something sinister about the new friendship. Something almost... parasitic. Maybe the wild rumours ARE true. Maybe Miranda is a killer.

But who would believe Olive? She does have a habit of letting her imagination run away with her…

Wow. This book practically threw me off balance. The story itself is ah-mazing with a lot of twists and turns. If you've read my IMM 25, you would probably know that this book is soaked wet, and I spent hours drying it. And that was when I couldn't help but took a peek... and instantly, I was hooked.

Our main character Olive is a beautiful, witty, sarcastic but problematic teenage girl. Ever since her father left, she has not been the same as her old self. She is convinced that she is the reason of her father's leaving and she blames herself for it. Her best friend is a sensible and logical girl, Ami who also suffered a similar family tragedy.

Then, a newbie comes to school - Miranda Vaile's her name. Rumors are flying around that Miranda killed her parents. And Olive is intrigued. When she discovers Miranda's strange behaviour and Google it online, she found a shocking word: shape-shifter. A shape-shifter is said to be an organism that sticks onto its host and drain his/her life force away. Olive doesn't know whether this is true, but evidences are pointing towards it.

What is so great about this book, you ask?

1. The blurring of the fine line between fantasy and reality. Yes, this is a modern-day young adult novel, set in a normal place in a normal country. BUT, the author's words seem to gravitate towards the paranormal at times and then back to the real world. And guess what? I myself am not sure about it! Oh, how I love books that make me guess.

2. Oddities and Disturbing Behaviors. Olive gets paranoid about Miranda's getting close to her ex-best friend Katie, and fears that Miranda is really a shapeshifter as Miranda slowly takes on the shape of Katie herself while Katie slowly shrinks and becomes a 'skeleton'. Before that, Miranda was fascinated by Katie - she imitates the way Katie walks, talks and wears. She was always murmuring lines - words that are previously spoken by Katie herself. At this point, I was really worried that Miranda is crazy. But then, tidbits are revealed about Olive herself, and I started to question her sanity as well. There, the author makes me doubtful again.

3. Quirky Romance. A real hottie/nice guy/liveguard, Lachlan becomes interested in Olive, and while she does like him, she is self conscious of her current status as the school's pariah and also her dark past. She tries her best to make him go away even though in her heart, she really, really likes him. But Lachlan has no interest in the pretty, typical cheerleader-type girls in school. He's only interested in Olive. Later, he becomes Olives anchor to sanity in a rough, stormy ocean.

4. Twists and Turns. The author cleverly spun a thriller based on a devious plot, and I, the pleasantly surprised reader, shall happily applaud her for it. I was outsmarted more than once - can I use that word? - and not even once I did not go, What? OMG.

5. Flawed Characters. What I appreciate about flawed characters is that they are real people that makes mistakes, have problems and are sometimes troubled by events in life. They may not be perfect or dream-like or posses super powers, but they are true-to-life.

6. Writing Style. The author tells the story with ease and adeptness. The words are simple and easy to read, but at the same time, it also portrays the author's unique writing style. I like how the author describes some of the personal traits of the characters, they felt so real that I can't help but imagine what they are like.

7. High on The Creepiness Factor. Don't let yourself be fooled. This book is not what you think. Symptoms after reading include: fear, minor discomfort and a high admiration for the author's brilliant mind.

I hope these seven reasons are enough to convince you that Shift is indeed a highly exceptional, gripping and engrossing debut in the sea of young adult books. If you want a fresh breath from the usual teen romance, vampires, werewolves and shape-shifters, go read . Mark my words: You won't regret reading this book.

Rating: 5

About THe Author

Em Bailey is an Australian living in Germany where, despite having been a vegetarian for many years, she now enjoys the occasional Wurst. Em used to be a new-media designer for a children’s television production house and is now a full-time author. Shift is her first YA novel, although she has written a number of books for children under the name Meredith Badger.

When she’s not writing, Em is generally getting lost, losing stuff, reading, hanging out with her friends and family, and listening to Radiolab podcasts. Like Olive, she doesn’t like leggings that look like jeans, but has no problem with tofu schnitzels.

4 creative remarks:

Alex said...

Amazing review! So happy that it's out now and people are enjoying it so much ^.^

Cassandra @ Book & Movie Dimension a Blog said...

Terrific review. Now I'm interested and saw the IMM. Poor book. Looks good, did like that list.

Jennifer Lane said...

Great review! Sounds intriguing. Glad you rescued it from being waterlogged, ha ha.

Noice said...

Looks amazing!