I feel really ambivalent about this YA novel. Admittedly, it did have me at points and I was able to read and read and not get bored, wondering what on Earth was going on. There is plenty to keep you guessing. But in the end,I felt like I had just watched an entire series of a really trashy and overly-dramatic television series. The sort that some would consider a guilty pleasure -because they no it has little literary merit.
Shift attempts to be edgy and is clever in places, utilising an unreliable narrator. exploring mental illness in a variety of ways and finally just the suggestion of something unexplained – or unexplainable. But it’s just all too much. You have to throw believability well and truly out of the window.
The narrator Olive is struggling with her mental health and dealing with the stigma of this at school. She is a believable and endearing character, one who could have been the basis of a story all by herself. But then Bailey introduces Miranda, a new girl who quickly befriends Katie, the most popular girl in school and Olive’s former best friend. Miranda starts as an almost invisible girl, but as she grows more beautiful and confident, Katie starts fading away. When Katie dies, Olive finds herself with a possibly dangerous new best friend.
This will definitely appeal to some, but is unlikely to be the kind of teen fiction that finds itself a wide adult audience.