Shift by Em Bailey, published by Electric Monkey on 7th May 2012
Olive used to be the school queen-bee. But that was before her breakdown. Now she's the class loner, and can only watch as new girl Miranda latches on to Olive's ex-best friend Katie. Soon Miranda is talking like Katie, dressing like Katie - even going out with Katie's boyfriend.
And then Katie dies. Everyone seems to believe it was a tragic accident, but OIive isn't so sure. What if the wild rumours are true? What if Miranda really is a killer...?
'Shift' by Em Bailey is a psychological thriller which also features an incredibly sweet and tender romance. It was a gripping read and one that I couldn't put down until I'd reached the final page.
One of the main issues explored in the book is jealousy. All teenagers and people in general, occasionally copy or imitate each other and for the most part this is normally seen as flattering. 'Shift' however delves deeper and looks at what can happen when imitation goes too far and even becomes dangerous.
The main character Olive has been dealing with huge issues in her personal life when Miranda, the new girl at school arrives on the scene amidst a swirl of rumours that she murdered her parents. Miranda becomes friends with Katie, Olive's former best friend but as Miranda grows more confident and vibrant, Katie turns into a shadow of her former self. When Olive is too late to prevent a disaster from occurring, she worries that she may have become Miranda's next target.
I found Miranda thoroughly unsettling. She made my skin crawl and seemed really unpleasant. My knee jerk reaction was to wish that I could warn all the other characters to stay well away from her. Even when she wasn't doing or saying anything particularly wrong, I just had a sense that she was up to no good and messing with people's minds.
As well as the friendship between the two girls, one of my favourite elements of the book was the lovely romance which developed between Olive and Lachlan, a new guy at her school. They were so sweet together and I liked the fact that Lachlan wasn't scared off by the fact that Olive was dealing with personal issues. He gave her space but always made sure that she knew he was never too far away.
I would have liked to have seen Olive's relationship with her father explored a little more as I think this could have potentially been another interesting dimension of the story. There were also only snapshots of her family life with her Mum and younger brother Toby, although many of the issues she had centrered around them all.
Halfway through the book there is an unexpected twist which I thought was extremely clever and leads to a thrilling climax to the story which set my heart racing. A fabulous psychological drama, 'Shift' will mess with your mind as you find deception and betrayal every corner.