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Shift (Strange Chemistry) by Kim Curran

Shift (Strange Chemistry) (edition 2012)

by Kim Curran

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Title:Shift (Strange Chemistry)
Authors:Kim Curran
Info:Strange Chemistry (2012), Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library

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Shift by Kim Curran



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Shift is the story of Scott Tyler, a British teenager who accidentally discovers that he has the power to “shift” between possible realities by changing his past decisions. Along with this discovery comes his entry into a secret world of shifters and a dawning understanding of the terrible powers at play in a world where reality can be changed at will.

One on side there is a clandestine government organization called ARES that focuses on training young shifters to use their powers for good, and on the other there is a rebel faction of shifters called the SLF, who believe that shifters should be allowed to use their powers without regulation. Scott’s first contact with the world of shifters, Aubrey Jones, is also, conveniently enough, the girl of his dreams. Aubrey is a pixieish blonde with a chip on her shoulder and conflicted loyalties between ARES, who took her away from her family, and SLF, who seem bent on anarchy and destruction for the sake of it. At first it seems like the book might be about a clash between ARES and SLF, but then we meet the true villain, a morbidly fat man wants to eat Scott’s brains.

The villain, Benjo, is easily most original thing Shift has going for it. However, he is so vile and over-the-top that he seems slightly out of place in the story. I actually would have liked the author to delve more deeply into the darkness that might result from people with the power to reset their decisions controlling the world. As it was, the book felt like it flipped back and forth between a fairly by-the-numbers secret world adventure and a squick-inducing serial killer tale.

I did also appreciate that the book retained its inherent Britishness, using uniquely British phrasings and colloquialisms that seemed slightly exotic to this American reader. I suppose it’s possible that when the book is eventually published in America, that regional flavor will be stripped out, but I certainly hope not.

However, my main problem with Shift is that the underground world of the shifters never seems particularly exciting. The scenes in the school for shifters feel fairly dull and a bit cliché when compared to other similar entries in the genre. In fact, the author ends up quickly summarizing Scott’s time at school after a few scenes, and promotes him to junior agent status as if impatient to get past all that training. The end results is that we never really understand why Scott feels an allegiance to ARES, and it seems like he only really dislikes SLF because they’re the snotty popular rebels.

Also, after one of Scott’s early shifts goes terribly wrong, he never really experiences any further consequences from his new-found shifting ability. Although he uses his ability to save himself from death at one point, it never feels like we get to see him exploring his shifting powers. Additionally, the author establishes early on that shifters can only control conscious decisions, so whenever there is a passage where Scott agonizes over a decision, it openly telegraphs that he will need to shift a few pages later, which immediately lowers the stakes. The only real stakes that come into play are when the villain, Benjo, lumbers onto the scene, simply because he is so outrageous that it feels like anything could happen when he is around.

Overall, Shift is a bit of mixed bag. The storyline follows familiar contours, as a “normal” kid discovers that he is actually very special and then proceeds to save the day. The cast of supporting characters are all fairly two-dimensional, and several characters established early on barely get more than a few lines before being shuffled off-stage for the rest of the book.

Although the villain is a uniquely twisted touch in an otherwise familiar-feeling story, he never completely meshes with the rest of book around him, and the end result is a story that only hints at something darker and more compelling. ( )
  unsquare | Feb 6, 2014 |
NOTE: I received this book to review from NetGalley.

When I read the title of this book, I thought I'd be reading just another animal type of shifter story. Guess how surprised I was when it turned out that this wasn't the case at all. Which was good actually, since animal shifting can't really offer much of a unique plot lately.

Anyways, so Shift was the story of a underground society of kids who can literally change their choices in time. The plot was original and the story telling was intriguing. So much that I could hardly put the book down. I was engrossed to the very last page.

There were moments of humor and moments where I wanted to just scream, and both of these are certain traits of an awesome read.

Another thing I liked was that it seemed like this was a single volume book. So yay! No series! :)

Now let me say a bit about the characters, and how the many twists and turns made me love or hate them in different stages of the story.

*Scott was pretty much your average (or below average) kid. He had no idea that at the blink of an eye he could be someone totally different. Then he shifted and things changed and nothing was ever the same. Of course there was the thing of the main character being the most special somehow. I won't say how exactly, so you'd get curious and go buy the book :D

*Aubrey was a character who came out of nowhere in Scott's world and introduced him to the world where he actually belonged. She was obstinate and adventurous and brave. She was protective of her beliefs, and she had a head on her shoulders. That's the type of heroine I like and feel for.

*Benjo was the character I'd never forget, and if you read the book you'll know why. He was such a well developed person, even if he totally grossed me out.

There were a bunch of characters from the ARES (Shifter control) organization that had me fooled of their real personalities. Which makes the story and suspense really good.

So all I can say is this: I recommend the book to all YA readers, and then some. :) ( )
  VanyaDrum | Jan 26, 2014 |
The book surprised me, I rarely read boy’s POV young adult books but this is really not that bad and its way better than a lot of contemporary YA novels that I’ve read these days.

Truthfully, when I saw the description, I was expecting a rip-off version of The Butterfly Effect and Jumper which I didn’t like at all despite one of them became a cult movie and another have Director Nick Fury in it. I was finishing this book before my usual Saturday afternoon’s Fringe and frankly I saw some subtle similarities, oh well.. science fiction all plagiarize from one another which we all happily obliged.

Shift started with a prologue by the main character, Scott, asking the reader about making the bad decisions in life and a chance to redo all of them. He then proceed to telling his story of how he come to have such powers and regretted it. Well, from the prologue, you’ll expect several things : archetypal character, superpowers, secret governmental agencies, brain eating psychopath and a girl. Which was the perfect recipes for a male-centric YA novels everywhere. I was very sceptical at this point but I’m pleasantly surprised that the storytelling was at a constant pace without redundancies of obvious fillers (my painful reading moment here) and after several chapters, I’m actually enjoying the book.

The book didn’t actually tell the audience where the setting was so, I was around a quarter of the book and realized that it was set in England which explained some of the words and the colloquialism that I don’t get at all.

So, after escaping his family for a night out with his friend, Hugo, Scott pulled a dare involving him climbing on a pylon (which I have to google to know what the heck that was) despite the urban legend of a boy getting one of his testicles ripped off (yes, I cringed too..) and when Scott did climb over, he slipped and fell………… until he opened his eyes and found himself lying on the ground unhurt but with his ‘friends’ disappointed that he failed his dare. Which of course, he was confused since he did climb on the tower but before he could say anything, he was ‘under-arrested’ by a female teenager who had saw what happened and claimed he shifted to show off to his friends. Scott remained in confusion when the girl, Aubrey, insisted that they need to get away before the Regulators come and catch him for shifting illegally.

Frankly some of the earlier chapters are simply info-dumping that even I had my eyes crossed (I hate physics) but I would know that Dr Walter Bishop will squeal in glee.

“Peter, he’s like our Olivia!”

and then the story goes along in full speed towards the climax and the ending.

Personally, I don’t expect much from the book except that I really thought the book is going to be like Percy Jackson-Darren Shan stories of doing the beginning of the book series in cliffhangers, just to make it worth to get the sequel.

But no…

… it started with a big scary man licking the face of Scott… the saliva.. the awful smell coming from the stranger’s mouth…

and then…. around 58%….

“The cat jumped off the body and proceeded to nibble at its owner’s brain.”

and then… a couple chapters later…

“…and I thought, ‘What if?’ There had always been tell of tribes possessing some of the strength of their enemies by consuming their bodies. So what if I could possess the power of a Shifter?”

“Fried it up with some sliced onion,” he said, “A bit chewy, if I’m honest.”

To be perfect honest, at that point, I was reading the book just because I had a bit horror-fascination whenever the cannibalistic psycho come to the pages again. I had the tendency to think of Benjo as a version of D.Gray.Man’s Millennium Earl.

Okay, I will leave you to make up your mind if you want to get this book… but overall…

The writing is linear with terrific descriptions, the action is good and does not drag the story. The dialogues was not lengthy and quite brief enough that allowed every chapter to connect through. Some of the minor character’s are memorable enough with some back-stories that you can feel empathy to them which made them believable. The conflicts are fascinating, fast pace. I wouldn’t be surprise if someone decided to make a movie out of this since frankly, its way better than a lot of YA-book-based movies in the the theatres. Although, the book can be marketed for children, but there are elements (see above) that I doubt kids would want to read about so I would say older teens till mid 20′s like me would be a better audience.

Beside’s Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood and Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Nick Gautier series. This is a good equivalent of a female author doing a great male-centric novels. I do read a lot of YA books by male authors but somehow I almost never see a male author doing a great female-centric novels.

I don’t know about you, but I’m sold. Be sure to get a copy of it since it does not disappoint the readers and I do hope the author made a sequel.

The review copy by the courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley. The book will be out on 4th September 2012 by Angry Robot Books.

Goodreads Rating : 4 stars

*gif are from tumblr and the net. I don’t own them nor the tv shows it depicts* ( )
  aoibhealfae | Sep 23, 2013 |
Shift opens in a way that makes you think you need to cancel all plans, sit down and read until you get to the final page. Quickly you find yourself pulled into the book, the idea of being able to change a decision you’ve made and have reality alter as a result is an intriguing one and the idea that these changes could be disastrous as well as beneficial is well explored and left me thinking long after I’d finished reading. I already can’t wait for the follow up book, this is a world I want to visit for longer. ( )
  juniperjungle | Apr 16, 2013 |
Shift opens in a way that makes you think you need to cancel all plans, sit down and read until you get to the final page. Quickly you find yourself pulled into the book, the idea of being able to change a decision you’ve made and have reality alter as a result is an intriguing one and the idea that these changes could be disastrous as well as beneficial is well explored and left me thinking long after I’d finished reading. I already can’t wait for the follow up book, this is a world I want to visit for longer. ( )
  juniperjungle | Apr 16, 2013 |
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When your average, 16-year old loser, Scott Tyler, meets the beautiful and mysterious Aubrey Jones, he learns he's not so average after all. He's a 'Shifter'. And that means he has the power to undo any decision he's ever made. At first, he thinks the power to shift is pretty cool. But as his world starts to unravel around him he realises that each time he uses his power, it has consequences; terrible unforeseen consequences. Shifting is going to get him killed. In a world where everything can change with a thought, Scott has to decide where he stands.… (more)

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