I first head about Shift through Inside a Dog, an Aussie literature organisation for young people. Em Bailey is an Aussie author, and I’m glad to have discovered her. Now on with the book review!
This book took a while to get going. The first hundred pages were a bit slow, languishing on back story and things that weren’t really applicable to the plot. Shift has its moments of brilliance, but they’re in between stretches of nothingness.
The good bits, though? Well, they were awesome. For example, right in the middle of the book, there’s a plot twist that I NEVER would have seen coming. There are parts when I literally shivered because it was so tense.
A bit of background: so Miranda’s this new girl. Olive, the main character, thinks there’s something weird about her – there are rumours that she killed her parents. Miranda starts hanging out with Olive’s ex-best friend Katie, and the relationship turns sort of…parasitic.
I won’t say much more, but there are telltale signs that Em Bailey is an exceptional writer. Though Olive’s the narrator, sometimes she’s an unreliable one, and it’s obvious from the way it’s written that the reader is supposed to know this. So it gets even more creepy, because we know what’s happening to Olive but she doesn’t know herself.
I think the book is let down in that it doesn’t linger on the best bits. There are long periods where nothing much happens, then great pieces of writing that end too quickly. The penultimate creepy section, I thought, was much better than the final one, which seemed anticlimactic.
I don’t read a lot of books like this, but I’m glad I did. Shift is deliciously creepy.