Book Review: Shift by Em Bailey

The Inky Awards winners have been announced! But you may have noticed we’re still one review shy of the whole set, and that review is for none other than the 2012 Gold Inky winner Shift… 

Olive is recovering from what she only refers to as the Incident. It has left her medicated and loaded with guilt over the resultant disintegration of her family unit. Her father has left. Her little brother Toby wakes up screaming. Her Mum seems to only just be holding it together. Yet Shift is not an oppressive read. Olive is, in fact, a vivacious protagonist who addresses life with the wit and bravadery of someone who has survived. At her high school she has morphed from popular-girl-and-Chief-Assistant to Katie (the Queen Bee of the school) to regular-Olive, who doesn’t give a damn what she looks like or whom she offends by being herself.

Shift is clever. Very, very clever. Not only does it capture the problems of high school and the angst of changing social cliques, it also captures the love and tension of a family recovering from trauma, AND it has an utterly creepy, possibly paranormal, plot of mystery and thrills. *draws breath* Whew! And it is as much of a rollercoaster ride as all of that sounds. Once you start reading it, clear your schedule, because you won’t want to stop until you’ve finished it.

The first part of the book centres on the arrival of new girl Miranda.

There were two things everyone knew about Miranda Vaile before she’d even started at our school. The first was that she had no parents – they were dead. And the second? They were dead because Miranda had killed them.

– p 1

Olive is convinced that Miranda is something paranormal – more parasite than human. Her new best-friend, Ami, thinks they should keep out of Miranda’s way, but when Miranda latches onto Katie, Olive finds she cannot divorce her old feelings of friendship quite so easily.

The second part of the novel is impossible to explore spoiler-free. Suffice to say that events take a much darker turn for Olive, and by the end of the book you’ll need to have a very long chat with a fellow reader about what you each thought took place. (Oh yes, it’s one of those books.) Whatever you might think of Miranda by the end, all readers will agree that as a character she is truly creepy, original, and memorable.

For reviews of the other Inky Shortlisted titles: The Fault in Our StarsBZRKA Monster CallsDaughter of Smoke and Bone, Why We Broke Up,  Act of FaithThe Reluctant HallelujahQueen of the Night, and Night Beach.

TAGS: , , ,


Leave a comment

Comments may be reviewed before being published.

Please read our blog guidelines before you reply.

Will not be published