Speculating on SpecFic

Fantastic Literature: From epic fantasy to fairytales to myth-making


Shift - Kim Curran I opened up Shift intending to just read the prologue. Four chapters later I was still reading, completely hooked. It’s an explosive, addictive read that I couldn’t bear to put down. Scott Tyler finds out he’s a Shifter – a teenager who possesses the ability to undo any conscious decision he makes and alter realities – and a rip-roaring adventure ensues. Along side him is an unlikely ally – Aubrey Jones – a tough, sarcastic girl who takes no BS from anyone.I think Kim Curran does an absolutely wonderful job of writing convincingly through a male perspective – Scott is neither absolutely perfect, snarky and attracted to every girl he meets, nor an arrogant, selfish bully – he’s a normal guy, who reacts in predictable ways to being told he has amazing powers. Although he begins as a lonely, sulky teenager with a difficult home life, the discovery of his powers gives Scott an inevitable sense of invincibility. In many ways Aubrey is his opposite – but they bond initially over their less than ideal family lives, and later because they are the only ones that realise that someone is Shifting realities to cover up grave crimes.One of the things I loved is Scott’s attraction to Aubrey, because it makes sense that he falls for someone so exotic after his mediocre life. I think, however, that Scott become too embroiled in his secret life at ARES – he doesn’t interact with his family any more and doesn’t see his best friend anymore, even going as far as to avoid their calls. I would have liked to see him begin to patch up that aspect of his life too. So while the character development was good, I thought it wasn’t taken far enough.I loved the world of the Shifters that we are slowly introduced to through Scott’s training. He is taken to the Agency for the Regulation and Evaluation of Shifters (ARES), and educated in self-defence, the use of his powers, and the rich and complicated history of the Shifters. Through these lessons we get a glimpse into the Shifter world – Mappers who map out the consequences of every decision and its permutations, Spotters who identify potential Shifters and Regulators who train and then keep track of them. We also learn about the Shifter Liberation Front (SLC), who oppose the regulation of Shifters, and their charismatic and handsome leader Zac. The world is beautifully created, with internal rules that I enjoyed learning about, and fascinating in its complexity.Shift is a wonderful debut novel from Strange Chemistry: the exciting new YA imprint from Angry Robot. It’s a perfect book for fans of YA looking for something different, and I think it will be enjoyed equally by male and female readers. I, for one, am looking forward reading the sequels Control and Delete (that’s exclusive intel from Kim herself) and following Scott’s adventures as Shifter.A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.You can read more of my reviews at Speculating on SpecFic.