Shift’s opening pages did not endear itself to me. I read the prologue, which was a huge hypothetical ‘have you ever wondered?’ and frankly said NO, I HAVE NOT. PISS OFF, BOOK. So I put it down for a few weeks. When I picked it up again, the opening chapter was a ‘dream sequence’ – that is, an ‘alternate reality’ presented as fact and designed to entice until it is revealed it is not in fact reality. Our protagonist, Scott, was playing a video game. Gah! It royally pissed me off. So I put the book down for a matter of weeks and resolved not to read it until I could shift the damn thing to an e-reader. (Shift. Get it?)
I am more than happy to yell from the rooftops that this book was way better than it opening pages. Our hero, Scott Tyler, is a Shifter – a person who has the ability to undo past decisions. It’s as if The Butterfly Effect and Jumper had a baby, and that’s the concept of the novel. When Scott discovers later than usual his unusual gift, he makes a terrible error, works hard to correct it, and then decides he needs to trust the strange girl, Aubrey, who Obi-Wan-style explains most things to him, and be trained by the secret government organisation designed to handle Shifters. As the Shifting power generally emerges in young children, Scott has a lot to catch up on.
Once I realised Scott was facing a YA rite of passage – training trials – I assumed this was going to be a boarding-school type novel. Luckily, I was wrong. Scott’s adventures develop both inside and outside of the academy. Once I thought I identified the climax, it just kept going, making the actual event exciting and interesting, if a little confusing and – even in this strange world – unrealistic. The climax was also extraordinarily brief – I wanted to see more of Scott’s struggle, his torment and pain. Instead he seemed to overcome this trial particularly easy and defeat the villain of the novel (which, by the way, I didn’t actually predict).
I loved the fact that this book was set in England (Jeremy Kyle, anyone?), and I loved reading a male point of view. I normally much prefer a female point of view, but Curran pulled off the arrangement convincingly. The romance was secondary to the main action of the plot, and although I’m not privy to the mind of a male I think Curran pulled off Scott’s attraction to Aubrey very well. Curran’s a talented writer with a great imagination and managed to give a common idea her own twist.
An advance reader copy was kindly provided by the publisher.