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Shift by Em Bailey

Shift (original 2011; edition 2013)

by Em Bailey

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8710138,736 (3.5)None
Authors:Em Bailey
Info:EgmontUSA (2013), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library

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Shift by Em Bailey (2011)



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So the title Shift can give you a clue here as to what paranormal element this creepy YA thriller is going to have going for it. But you will be surprised by how that is used. I haven't seen it done like this before, so kudos for that. While I was impressed with the ideas behind it the overall message of Shift didn't click with me probably because of what they were. I really didn't even get a clue about these things from the description. Coupled with was some of Olive's behavior that just did not jive with me at all, I was left with an overall "meh" feeling by the end. Shift is a book I think my newly adult younger sister would enjoy but I don't know if I'd recommend it to adult readers who like young adult fiction. ( )
  Pabkins | May 2, 2014 |
This one's worth reading, but explaining why would spoil the twist of it all. It skirts the edge of the paranormal and the standard teen drama with popular girls and mental health all in there... but it's how the mysterious pieces click together that makes it just a bit more. ( )
  terriko | Oct 17, 2013 |
Miranda Vaile is the strong point of this young adult novel. It is well worth reading for her alone. Miranda is offered to us, on the one hand, as a supernatural demon and on the other as a rolled-gold bitch who is disturbed and rageful, but also charming to the nth degree. For good measure, she can also be seen as the symbol of a destructive inner voice, enticing one unlucky girl into anorexia. Whatever she is exactly, Miranda has the psychopaths’s ability to pinpoint and play to our longings, fears and frailties, without a particle of real empathy.

The narrator is fellow high school student Olive Corbett, who has plenty of her own issues to work through. Family stuff. Huge amounts of confusion, guilt and anger have knocked her off course. In the early part of the novel she is trying to sort herself out while also observing Miranda from a distance.

Olive has ample evidence that Miranda is vicious and destructive, and decides, reasonably enough, to avoid her. That’s all thrown out the window, though, when Miranda turns her attentions to Olive. Miranda is fun, cutting through social barriers to get her and her underage friends-of-the-moment into nightclubs and posh fashion shoots. The devil indeed wears Prada. Miranda inspires obsessive adoration, which is also seductive, even while separating you from the humble everyday world.

It’s a life lesson: a scary person who suddenly turns sweet, and even flatters you, is almost irresistably seductive, a dream come true. Reason and rationality won't defeat them.

The rival that a demon cannot defeat, though, is the genuine lover – someone who knows you well enough to offer respect, tenderness and passion.

Who or what is Miranda really? In a way, this is a secondary issue. Herman Melville didn’t need the fantasy genre to show us Moby Dick as the ‘gliding great demon of the deep’. He just had to float the idea.

The double is used as a literary device throughout, to explore personal identity.

Males generally appear in a positive light – the young ones anyway – but in the romance tradition they are pretty much wooden props, even when they say and do the right thing. ( )
  Notesmusings | May 25, 2013 |
WOW. It’s easy to see why this won the Gold Inky on Inside a Dog this year. Em Bailey has written a taut, incisive and entertaining suspense novel here. The book has a killer opening paragraph:
“There were two things everyone knew about Miranda Vale 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.”
This serves to instantly draw us in and stir our curiosity. Who is Miranda? Did she really kill her parents? Is she dangerous? Whilst the rest of the school wonders why someone “like that” would be coming to their school, Olive, our protagonist, and her friend, Ami, can’t wait to meet her.
From the beginning of this story, we know Olive is “different” to other people at her school. We discover her life is one of routines, medication and visiting Dr Richter, hinting that there may be some mental health issues and making us consider she may not be a reliable narrator. But, she has a firm friend in Ami and we realise that theirs is a very close friendship. It is established that there was an “incident” and that Ami has also been through something similar. They seem to understand each other implicitly - it is clear that this relationship is an anchor in Olive’s life and it is fun to read, too.
Olive’s family has its issues too – Dad is absent, and her Mum, a skittish online vitamin salesperson, barely seems to cope at times. Her adoring younger brother, Toby, has recurring nightmares that Olive blames herself for. Olive also states she is the reason her Dad left. Like I said – issues.
Miranda arrives and more or less blends into the background. Until she starts to trail after Katie, a former friend of Olive’s, who is part of the popular crowd. This instantly brings up more questions about Olive, who is very clearly no longer part of that group. Through a series of seemingly unconnected events, Miranda and Katie are suddenly best friends - inseparable. Ami and Olive notice things about Miranda that seem weird – her mirror eyes, her strange skin. There is a mystery to be solved here. Events begin to spiral out of control as Katie becomes thin and wan, and Miranda thrives in direct counterpoint. Olive and Ami suspect that Miranda is a shapeshifter, sucking the life out of Katie, but who can they tell? Who would believe such a thing?
I am determined not to put any spoilers in here, but this story just gets more intense, the further you go. Once I was three-quarters of the way in, I HAD to finish it.
This is the beauty of Bailey’s writing – she begins to peel back what we see, layer by layer, until we understand we are looking at the truth. The truth is sometimes not want we want to hear, nor what we expect, but the truth, in the end, is what will save you and this is proven in the satisfying conclusion to this excellent first YA novel. I look forward to the next offering from Em Bailey, but I am a little scared about where it will take us! ( )
1 vote sueo23 | Mar 26, 2013 |
Shapeshifter... persona stealer... bully....
This book left a creepy feeling along my spine so even though it contains some inappropriate actions by the characters (sneaking out, going to a club when they're underage, etc.) I still liked it. ( )
  JRlibrary | Jan 7, 2013 |
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Olive, having recently suffered mental problems, is unsure whether to trust her instincts when a new student, rumored to have killed her parents, develops a parasitic relationship with Olive's former best friend, Jubilee Park High School's "Queen Bee."… (more)

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