Shift by Em Bailey [Goodreads]
Genre: YA > Thriller
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont
Release Date: 1st September 2011
Cover love? It's quirky and incredible and immediately drew me in. It fits the book perfectly, with the idea identity is always shifting, or shaped by others.
There were two things everyone knew about Miranda Vaile before she'd even arrived at our school. The first was that she had no parents - they were dead. And the second? They were dead because Miranda had killed them.
Olive Corbett is definitely NOT crazy.
Not anymore. These days she takes her meds like a good girl, hangs out with her best friend Ami, and stays the hell away from the toxic girls she used to be friends with.
She doesn’t need a boyfriend. Especially not a lifesaver-type with a nice smile. And she doesn’t need the drama of that creepy new girl Miranda, who has somehow latched on to Olive's ex-best friend.
Yet from a distance, Olive can see there's something sinister about the new friendship. Something almost... parasitic. Maybe the wild rumours ARE true. Maybe Miranda is a killer.
But who would believe Olive? She does have a habit of letting her imagination run away with her…
Even as the narrator, Olive Corbett’s past is shrouded in secrecy. While on the surface, Olive seems like your everyday teenage girl, with a fair share of problems at school and at home, there’s an unstable, insecure, but caring girl underneath. Without her best friend Ami to anchor her sanity down, she’d surely be lost. The beauty of her character was that she seemed to “shift” a lot between several personas, and I could never be certain who Olive was.
The question is, how did Olive fall from being one of the most popular girls in the school, to the paranoid “freak” that she’s now known as? Oh, and what exactly happened between Olive and her ex-best-friend Kate, the beautiful and popular queen of the school?
This book takes the toxic effect that high-school life can have on a person, to a whole new level. Miranda Vaile transfers to Olive’s school amid a flurry of speculation, and wild rumours. Some say that she killed her parents, and while Olive is sceptical, she knows that there’s something really off about Miranda. This pale, wisp of a girl somehow latches onto Kate, and over time, seemingly draws the life out of her, until Kate is a shadow of her former self, and Miranda begins to glow with the vitality that Kate had.
Em Bailey smoothly carries the reader forward on this rollercoaster ride of a plot, with her simple yet compelling writing style. The characters are flawed and therefore believable, and there is a cute romance between Olive and a hot new guy, Lachlan, that stumbles around as Olive keeps on trying to push him away from her, despite her growing feelings for him.
Shift is psychological thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat, constantly guessing and questioning the truth behind the story Olive tells. Is there really something strange going on with Miranda, or is it all in Olive’s head? I think I can safely say that have never, ever read anything quite as gripping and intoxicating. While this book isn’t for everyone, especially if you don’t like thrillers, it’s a refreshing break from mainstream YA, one which will creep up under your skin and claw at your heart, squeezing it at every thrilling twist and turn of the plot.