Shift is one of those books I first heard about when I started looking into the titles released by Angry Robot’s new imprint, Strange Chemistry. Already excited about several of the titles, I was going on a pre-ordering spree when I came across Shift. The cover made me think of science-fiction movies like Push and I couldn’t quite decide what I thought about that, until I read the synopsis. And then, suddenly, Shift sounded like it was going to be very cool.
Scott Tyler is a sixteen year old loser, by his own admission, who lives a boring life in between parents that don’t get along anymore, a little sister that is way cooler than him, and a best friend that, as it turns out, might be willing to turn his back on their years of friendship to have his chance at popularity.
So, when pushed and dared into climbing an old pylon, Scott does what most boys his age would do, he decides to give it a go, especially given the pretty face that seems interested in his antics. But Scott slips and falls. On his way down, he starts to wonder what would have happened if he had let go when he was climbing the wall, not the pylon, and finds himself flat on his back, everyone laughing at him, at the bottom of said wall. The thing is, he clearly remembers climbing the pylon.
That’s when the pretty face, Aubrey, grabs him and drags him into a world Scott had no idea he was part of. She tells him he is a Shifter, which means he can undo any decision he has ever made. But Shifting is regulated, and Scott either has to accept joining those that monitor Shifters—ARES—or become a runaway, forced to never Shift again in case of discovery. Overwhelmed by all this, Scott finds himself Shifting by accident, and that’s when his life gets turned upside-down.
Forced to Shift to save his sister’s life, Scott has to promise to join ARES and after a disturbing encounter with someone too gross to ever let close again, Scott is thrown headfirst into something bigger than him, bigger than most Shifters, and that will require all of his wits, and skills, to get out of on top.
Shift would make a brilliant, fast-paced movie. That’s not to say that it doesn’t make for a brilliant, fast-paced book either, because it does. Scott is someone who feels like he’s worthless and has nothing to look forward to in life as he meanders aimlessly through it trying to find his place. And then, when he does, Scott finds himself and discovers that there is a lot more to him than he ever thought there was. It’s a tale of growing up, not so much in terms of age, but in the way we see ourselves and our place in the world.
The book throws us at rather breakneck speed into Scott’s life as he discovers who and what he is–and how he is potentially the only person who can stop what is going on: because he’s special and unlike any Shifter, he can remember each reality that he Shifts from and to.
With a likeable cast, a solid plot and action at every turn, Shift is a fun and enjoyable adventure as likely to call to teenagers and young adults as it is to older readers who still remember what it’s like to be sixteen (or at still sixteen at heart!). I’m definitely looking forward to book two in the series!