Wednesday, August 24, 2011

[Review] Shift by Em Bailey

Title: Shift {goodreads}
Authors: Em Bailey
Publication (dd/mm/yy): 01/09/11
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont
RRP: $22.95
Source: Publisher for review
Age: 14+
Pages: 310
My Rating:

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…
My thoughts: 

I wanted to throw this book against a wall. No, it wasn't bad at all. I just really wanted to throw this book against a wall. It's one of those books that gets really under your skin; it slowly crawls up and then GRABS you. And won't let go. Shift is Em Bailey's debut YA novel, and it's quite a doozy. It's being compared to Liar (Justine Larbalestier) and Single White Female. I think if you're a fan of mystery/suspense/thrillers, you'll at least be drawn in by this book. Think Pretty Little Liars, but completely different.

Shift introduces us to Olive Corbett whose poisonous personality leads her straight to rehab. But now she's back: "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" (taken from blurb).

She's a bit lost, a bit withdrawn, a bit bitter, a bit misunderstood. Just a bit. The only one getting her through each day, is Ami, her best friend. And I loved their relationship, and also the twist that involved them that really changed everything. Olive is such a complex character that it's really hard to keep track of what's really going on with her.

And then, of course, there's the real HOOK of the book - the new girl. "What's the deal with her?" you ask. I'm not saying, but she is very, very wicked indeed. There is a supernaturality about her, but I haven't read about this specific creature/feature before so it was pretty fresh for me. She's misunderstood from the start, what with all the rumours that have been circulating the school even before she'd arrived, but Olive senses something off about her. ESPECIALLY when she is gradually promoted to 'Queen Bee' Katie's best friend, who used to be OLIVE's best friend.

I loved the escalation of the suspense that builds up throughout the book. Olive develops/discovers a theory that seems preposterous, but explains everything that has been happening since Miranda's appearance. Olive grows and is put down and grows some more, makes friends, opens herself up and tries to find her true self. I loved the insight we get into Olive's mind, especially when looking at how she is before and what she becomes after.

Music is a huge part of Olive's life, and ever since she came back from the hospital (and maybe much before that) she's been this alternative goddess. And she's got this huge crush on Dallas, the lead of this totally unknown band. Crazily enough, the band gets a gig someplace close by and Olive finally meets him . . . and feels nothing for him. Is there someone else? *nods*

One day at school, the mysterious, "no-name" but totally gorgeous new guy Lachlan talks to Olive. In an almost agitating amount of self-pity, Olive brushes him off time and time again. Because she's not worthy of a guy's affection. I actually really liked the romantic interactions (if you could call them that, at least at the beginning) between them. It was bittersweet and heartbreaking. It did get frustrating, just because Olive kept rejecting him when she probably knew ages ago how she'd felt about him. I could probably go on and on about this, but moving on . . . 

Independent, quirky, snarky and incredibly complex Olive retells the twisted events that follow her return to sanity. There's something so odd about the new girl, especially the way Olive's ex-best friend Katie has changed since they became besties. The inner psyche of Olive combined with the sinister plot, along with supportive family and friends, a budding relationship that can't happen, and betrayals and misunderstandings; and you get a well-rounded suspense/thriller/mystery YA novel. Deeply enjoyable; a worthy debut novel.


First lines

"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.


"We watched as Miranda drifted like a cloud to our classroom. During classes she sat down the back, near me. Totally silent and still.
And we watched Miranda during breaks as she sat on the bench near the back fence. Eyes half-closed. Palms together in her lap. Was she praying? Photosynthesising, maybe?

(p. 25)

"At first I fumed about how stupid everyone was not to realise that Miranda was manipulating the situation to suit herself. But after a while, I found this thought popping into my head: Maybe you imagined it.
     My doubt felt like one of those weeds that you see growing in cracks in the footpath - it's incredible that something so little can grow so strong to push up concrete. It's hard being the only person who sees things a certain way. Lonely. It would be easier to let go and just be carried along by the current like everyone else.

(p. 132)


* cheapest Australian e-store price


Fishpond * | Readings | Dymocks | Angus & Robertson | Borders | The Nile


Amazon | The Book Depository

All links from Booko, because I'm too lazy to search each individual store anymore.

I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

Challenge: 2011 Debut Challenge (AU), Aussie YA Challenge

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