This is rare: two books I've felt the urge to blog about in as many months.
Today I want to draw your attention to 'Shift' by Kim Curran (from Strange Chemistry books). Again, usual rules apply - I know both the author and the editor vaguely and I'm not trying to suck up to either of them. I'm also not doing to go into an in-depth on the story. If you want the outline, go look it up on Goodreads or Amazon.
So, I've had this book for several months now, sitting the the 'read next' slot on the shelf, and I kept skipping it. There is a good reason for that. I was writing and editing 'Amunet' at the time. Now, Amunet is a very different story, and before anybody points the finger no I wasn't worried I would be overly influenced by Shift.
See, what happened was I read the first three pages and realized it was a 'confidence killer'. By that I mean its one of those books I occasionally get that hit me in the 'how will I ever get that good' spot, and I think it was Kim's debut novel. I didn't need that while I was in the middle of my own work, and so I avoided it.
I'm glad I did, 'cos I was right. I devoured this book. This book cost me sleep. This book took me back to when I was young, free and single and spent more time each evening reading than doing anything else. The underlying concept of the novel, the ability to change things based on being able to go back to previous decisions and take the other path is very well thought out and feels original (although I'll bet someone else has used it somewhere if you dig hard enough). The setting was believable, and the characters wonderfully well constructed. OK, so there's the trope of the the slightly bewildered, gifted boy meets the more-than-slightly wild, gifted, spunky girl, but its handled in a fresh, bright way that sucks you in and makes you care about the characters (even some of the bit-parts)
The thing that got me most was the pace, which was pretty much flawless. No periods of angst-filled inward assessment, no 'issues' to be worked through, and no 'hand me the bucket' romantic melancholia: just a great adventure that really was difficult to put down each night.
Having read this outside of one of my own projects, its no longer a 'confidence killer', its an 'aspire to'. A full 5 stars, and a full recommendation to both the target YA audience and older readers