I got this book from way back but only recently picked it up from my huge TBR pile (do I smell a trend here. HALP.) For some reason I went into this book with great anticipation. Maybe it’s the premise: humanoid shapeshifter lurking among and attaching themselves to clueless human victims like parasites. How exciting! That cover is also pretty suitable and pretty! #coverlove
I was thoroughly disappointed.
Honestly, I hate writing negative reviews, especially about a book that’s not even that recent (2011). But sorry, Shift was an awful experience.
Olive Corbett comes back to school after a mental illness incident (which will be one of the “great reveals”) a completely changed woman; originally a scintillating cheerleader, Olive is now an ignored, dull and fat outsider to all her former friends. She is instantly wary of the newcomer student Miranda, who’s reputed to have killed her own parents. Olive starts to investigate after seeing little cracks everywhere in Miranda’s act. For me, Olive is an extremely passive protagonist. She does try to understand what’s really going down, but she also acts in weird, insignificant ways that don’t help at all. There’s no link between her and the reader, and I end up not caring if a shapeshifter snatches her skin and leave her to rot. Worse, after all she’s seen, after all Miranda’s done, Olive goes and becomes her best friend and literally allows Miranda to invade and control her life. I mean, is she totally unintelligent or indifferent about her life? Olive simply fails to make me care.
Miranda could have been a fascinating character, if she weren’t so petty and worthless. As a shapeshifter, she can attach herself to someone like a leech and take over her appearance, personality, and life in general. Such potential (I’m not a bad person. Or an identity theft.) As bland as the wall in her transitional period, Miranda is weak and unobtrusive, but after she took on Katie, the top cheerleader/aspiring model’s life, she transformed into a gorgeous and cruel girl and whispers Katie into an anorexic. For some reason, I found Miranda a better character than Olive (then again, there wasn’t much competition). She lost her parents and thinks it’s all her fault, and she grew up being shuffled from relatives to relatives. Cosmopolitan, confident, and compelling, Miranda holds so much potential to become an evil mastermind. But for all her abilities, all her charm and tricks, what does Miranda want? To manipulate girls and rob them of their jewelries and boyfriends. Such pettiness. Wasted possibilities.
I liked Miranda’s OCD uber-hygienic aunt, though. Poor old lady.
Also Olive’s family. Olive’s father left them, and she thinks it’s her fault. It’s also one of the big reveals. See how enormous that was? Me neither. Anyway, back to Olive’s family: her mom and her little brother. They suffered much because of Olive and her antics after befriending Miranda. I did like Olive’s interactions with her little brother, though. They have a cathartic game of hitting the watermelon with sticks, which I found interesting.
The setting is rather normal, with a hint of paranormal thrown in. The high school scene may be believable, but altogether not many descriptions or atmosphere worth noticing.
Plot & Pacing
The plot and pacing are absurd. The plot can be divided into two parts that are really similar: Olive watching Katie fall into Miranda’s trap, and Olive falling into Miranda’s trap. It doesn’t even make much sense. After seeing a girl wasting away into a shell, Olive runs into Miranda’s intrigues knowingly and absolutely-not-caringly. Why? The romance is also a little forced and stereotypical, and contributes little to the plot except a male-rescues-female plot-saver. All the plot twists and “reveals” are ridiculous and trivial. The ending escalated too quickly and fell apart too soon. Well.
Shift’s characters are 1-D and boring, its setting nondescript, and plot extremely frustrating. I was wishing it’s like Wolf by Wolf, but this shapeshifter book was a bust for me. I personally don’t recommend this book.
Do you know any good shapeshifter books? Please share with me!
by Em Bailey
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.