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Review: Shift by Em Bailey

Title: Shift

Author: Em Bailey

Genre: YA Mystery

Series: N/A

Publication Date: May 22, 2012

Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages

ISBN-10: 1606843583 (EgmontUSA)

ISBN-13: 978-1606843581 (EgmontUSA)

Reviewed by: Emmy

Synopsis:

Olive Corbett is not crazy. Not anymore.

She obediently takes her meds and stays under the radar at school. After “the incident,” Olive just wants to avoid any more trouble, so she knows the smartest thing is to stay clear of the new girl who is rumored to have quite the creepy past.
But there’s no avoiding Miranda Vaile. As mousy Miranda edges her way into the popular group, right up to the side of queen bee Katie – and pushes the others right out – only Olive seems to notice that something strange is going on. Something almost . . . parasitic. Either Olive is losing her grip on reality, or Miranda Vaile is stealing Katie’s life.

But who would ever believe crazy Olive, the girl who has a habit of letting her imagination run away with her? And what if Olive is the next target?

A chilling psychological thriller that tears through themes of identity, loss, and toxic friendship, Shift will leave readers guessing until the final pages.

Quick & Dirty: The interesting premise and characters lacked a cohesive flow, which detracted from the tension/thriller aspect of the novel.

Opening Sentence: There were two things everyone knew about Miranda Vaile before she’d even started at our school.

Excerpt: No

The Review

Miranda Vaile is everyone. Or can be anyone. Despite the vicious rumors that started before she even showed up at school, she easily weaves her way into the tight-knit popular crowd. She becomes best friends with Olive’s ex-bestie Katie. Maybe it’s because Olive’s been on the outside and looking in since the accident, but she notices something’s off about Miranda. Everyone loves her just a little too much, they agree with her a little too quickly.

It isn’t long before Katie starts to fall sick — really, really sick — and Olive notices events don’t occur exactly how Miranda talks about them. Until Katie’s sent to the hospital, Olive didn’t know what to do. In the hospital bed, Katie starts to come out of the fog and everything begins tumbling together. Unfortunately, figuring out Miranda’s secret does more than put Olive on Miranda’s radar — it puts her on the victim list. Olive has to find a way to stop Miranda before she hurts anyone else, especially since Olive thinks the next victim is likely to be herself.

The characters in Shift were grounded and relatable — except for Olive. My biggest problem with this novel is that around page 150 Olive’s character becomes completely untrustable. To the point where, everything after that point I can’t bring myself to believe anything she says, or sees, or thinks. Which totally destroyed any possibility of tension. I think this moment was supposed to be a plot-twist, supposed to out the psychological in with the thriller, but as the reader I just felt betrayed. It was more than having the rug pulled out from under me — it was like Bailey took the whole floor and never gave it back. I couldn’t get back into Olive’s head and that made it impossible to enjoy the story.

The story itself has a great premise, but the narrative is choppy. I think it was supposed to create suspense, but it was another thing that pulled me out of the story. There was a romantic aspect I didn’t like either — not because I think recovering-crazy people don’t deserve romance, because everyone deserves some love. It felt like Lachlan (awesome name for a hero) was just thrown in because that’s what Bailey thought her readers wanted. The romance was forced and I had a really hard time figuring out what Lachlan was adding to the story.

This mystery has a touch of the paranormal, which was very well played. (No, I won’t tell you what. Spoilers!) It added to the drama and was just understated and odd enough that I could believe it would happen in Olive’s world. Miranda makes an excellent villain, because as everyone knows — all villains are heroes in their own minds. It changed her into a complex and unique character. I just wish I’d been able to get past Olive and there had been more of the psychological thriller aspect the book originally promised.

Notable Scene:

My throat constricted. “But it can’t be true, can it?’ I needed Ami to tell me this was rubbish. “This is the real world. There’s no such thing as—“

“Isn’t there?” said Amy, interrupting me as she leant in close. “But it explains everything.”

I fell silent for a moment. It was usually Ami who pointed out why my crazy theories were pure wonkiness. Having her say something like this—it was unnerving.

“You don’t really believe that, do you?” I whispered. That stupid website? It’s—it’s not logical.”

“It was a stupid website,” agreed Ami. “But sometimes the illogical answer is the only one. She’s dangerous, Olive. She admitted she slipped something into Miss Falippi’s drink and then got everyone believing out hippy home-room teacher was some kind of addict. Now she’s trying to kill Katie.”

Kill Katie. I shivered. Was it really as serious as that?

FTC Advisory: EgmontUSA provided me with a copy of Shift. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Review: Shift by Em Bailey, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
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