Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Review: Shift by Em Bailey

Shift by Em Bailey

Pages: 320

Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont
Published: September 1st, 2011
IBSN: 9781921564390 

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…

Shift was a surprisingly intense psychological thriller from a new voice in Aussie YA.

Olive starts out feeling just like your average teenager. She's not exactly popular, she's not exactly beautiful; but it's revealed slowly that she's not exactly normal either. She had a mental breakdown that resulted in her hospitalisation, but she seems well enough on her meds, until a bombshell is dropped mid-way. Despite her odd circumstances, she was always easily relatable and usually likeable.

The plot was very smooth. There were no 'info-dumps' or the like to interrupt the flow. Hints were dropped sparingly and events unfolding in a teasingly slow manner. We had to figure things out slowly, at times even when the main character couldn't.

Written in a clear and frank fashion that still maintained a foreshadowing tone, the plot turns that had the potential to be confusing or awkward weren't, but turned out feeling realistic. This book is the antidote to all those paranormal stories with completely unrealistic reactions to supernatural elements. In real life, if you encountered someone strange, you wouldn't automatically suspect something preternatural, and you'd need a lot of convincing to believe in it. This book reflects that.

The foreshadowing tone built the suspense to the point where there was almost tangible anticipation for what I hoped was an epic conclusion, and I wasn't wrong. The climax was dramatic and tense and the wind-down addressed our concerns for the main characters while still leaving some parts open-ended to maintain the eerie mystique to the novel.

Complete with a gradual romance and a believable, despicable and slightly sympathetic villain, Shift was a compelling from so many different angles. Once you've traversed the slow beginning, Shift is impossible to put down.

I give Shift a 4 out of 5.