Thursday, 30 May 2013

Em Bailey | Shift

Maybe reading books twice - especially ones you didn't like to start with - isn't such a good use of time. But, I wanted to check that my opinion of it hadn't miraculously changed before I sell it. For the record, it hasn't. However, upon reading it for a second time with a 'knowledge' you learn towards the end of this book, it is that little bit sadder and I suppose better.

Firstly, the modern-day setting of the story contrasts with the existence of a 'Shapeshifter', and not in a good way. Olive, the main character and through who the story is told, suffers from mental issues and bullying, among other things. Miranda is a Shapeshifter and a completely fictional being who, in my opinion, doesn't belong in a YA novel covering some contemporary topics. For me, this meant the whole story felt far-fetched; if I'd wanted to read about mirror-eyed, parasitic beings I'd have gone to the supernatural section of Waterstones.

If Olive was a real person, I don't think I'd really have got on well with her. I found her fickle in the way she went from despising Miranda to becoming best friends with her. I know that this was written intentionally, but it was annoying when Olive hadn't realised what was happening to her from hanging around with Miranda. Some of this was written in such a way that the reader didn't know what was going on either. We don't know that Olive's face is pale and sunken until Lachlan points it out. But I for one was mentally shouting at Olive to realise that Miranda was slowly taking all her possessions. As I said, I know all this was written intentionally but it doesn't stop me from disliking it.

(Contains spoilers)
Thirdly, I thought that the story was broken into two halves, and not just because there is a physical blank page somewhere roughly in the middle. I felt that the story climaxed at Katie's death and got worse as it went on, as if the second half let down the not-too-bad first half. In my opinion, the book could've been finished off with a few more chapters and not have been much worse.

This review sounds really moany already, but I'm just going to chuck in a pet peeve. I've already mentioned one of the main characters called Lachlan - is that pronounced Lach-a-lan or Lack-lan? - whose nickname is Lachie. Maybe this sounds alright with an American accent, but I seriously cringed whenever I read it.

More on Lachie - the romance between him and Olive was pretty sweet. It was nice to know while you read it that your stalker superhero was going to jump in at the last minute and save Olive. Oh, and I almost fangirled over the description of them and the wave. Almost.

(Contains spoilers)
Finally, let's talk about Ami. At the start I mentioned this 'knowledge' that improved the book the second time round. It was quite obscure and I think that some people missed it so I'll just put it here: Ami was Olive's imaginary friend. Actually, thinking about it now, it was pointed out a couple of times but oh well. I said that the second time reading it was sadder and this is because you realise that Ami is a projection of what Olive would like to be. She herself admits that Ami was "me but with better hair". However, Ami also represented the angel on her shoulder and told her what the best thing to do or say was, as well as having the improved physical attributes. The second time you read it, you understand why Olive's Mum didn't want Olive hanging around with her and you notice certain other things like: so Olive has a reason for not swimming, but what's Ami's reason? And other similar things that can all be answered with: Ami's not real.

To round it up, I give this book 2/5 stars. 

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