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Shift: Volume 1 (Shifter Series) Paperback – 6 Mar 2015
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About the Author
Kim was born in Dublin and moved to London when she was seven. She got her first typewriter when she was eight, had a poem she wrote about a snail published in a magazine when she was nine, and that was it – Kim was hooked on writing. Because shenever thought she’d actually be able to make a living as a writer, she decided she needed a trade to fall back on. So, naturally, she went to Sussex University to study philosophy. While Kim’s plan of being paid big bucks to think deep thoughts never quite worked out, she did land a job as a junior copywriter with an ad agency a week after graduating. She’s worked in advertising ever since, specialising in writing for videogames. She can be found at www.kimcurran.co.uk and on Twitter @KimeCurran.
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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!
Imagine if you had the power to go back and change those decisions that had such an impact on your life - whether to save a life, to have on a dry pair of shoes, to not do something totally stupid, to win at a game, or give yourself a future. If you had this power, then you would be a Shifter. Shifters, it seems, have a place in all levels of society and government, helping to steer companies and countries. But only the young can shift; with adulthood it disappears and then, should you choose, you could be a Regulator, helping to stamp out accidental illicit shifting and seeking out those who would use shifting for deviant or mere nuisance ends. The chances are that as a Shifter and/or a Regulator you would be employed by ARES - the Agency for the Regulation and Evaluation of Shifters.
Scott Tyler is our hero and narrator. Discovering relatively and dramatically late that he is a Shifter, Scott is guided into ARES by the enigmatic and tetchy Aubrey Jones. When it is discovered that Scott has an extra power - he can remember the result of past, revoked choices - he is promoted up the ranks and the two work together to investigate a rumoured threat to Shifters; that Shifters might be prey for a lethal and odious enemy that has its own use for their skill. All the time, though, Scott has to learn about the reality of his own shifting and the fact that it can have the most terrible consequences - and not just for him. This is the steepest of learning curves and not all mistakes can be undone. It's an exhilarating lesson.
Shift is a first novel but you wouldn't know it. It is a densely plotted and vigorously enthusiastic read, full of humour, thrills and vile monstrousness. Its premise is fascinating and the narrative and plot delivers on it. Apart from all that, though, the real strength of Kim Curran's wonderful descriptive writing and worldbuilding is in her characters. Both Scott and Aubrey are brought to life with the lightest of deft touches and the dialogue is both natural and real as well as Scott's colourful narration. And not just them either. The supporting characters are all well worth getting to know. They can also be a little more complicated than one first expects.
The villains of the piece are as nasty as any I've come across in a novel and how my skin crawled. The locations are vividly pictured and the premise of shifting stays true and clear throughout. There is such humour in Shift, though. Kim Curran never tries too hard and she never talks down to her readership. Shift is exciting to read but it is also such a fun experience, with the pages tripping through the fingers. I am so pleased that I have Control to read now. I'll then have to wait for the third which will be called (wait for it!) - Delete.