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Yes... I know this one has been around since 2012 and indeed, collected The Inky Awards for Gold in that year. But it turned up as a NetGalley arc and I opened up the first couple of pages and was lured by the smart, funny writing which had me laughing aloud.
Olive Corbett is not crazy. Not anymore.
She obediently takes her meds and stays under the radar at school. After "the incident," Olive just wants to avoid any more trouble, so she knows the smartest thing is to stay clear of the new girl who is rumored to have quite the creepy past. But there's no avoiding Miranda Vaile. As mousy Miranda edges her way into the popular group, right up to the side of queen bee Katie -- and pushes the others right out -- only Olive seems to notice that something strange is going on.
That is part of the rather chatty blurb, which gives you an idea of the book. Olive is back at school after suffering a major, traumatic upheaval in her life -- which means she is no longer best friends with Katie. Or even on reasonable terms with her... Instead, Ami features in her life and between them, they provide a lovely, snarky commentary on Olive's current life. Until Miranda arrives...
I am aware that I am waaay outside the target age for this book, so Olive's fluttery response to the new boy somewhat slid past me. Miranda's appearance is far more intriguing -- until the last third, when the plot seemed to slightly lose momentum, allowing me to guess the outcome of the main storyline.
That said, Olive's character pings off the page, with an enjoyably grumpy take on the world around her -- it was a delight to find so much wit alongside the teen whinge about school, erstwhile friends and family. I also thought the family worked well, too. It was refreshing change in a YA book not to have a monster for a mother, but a rather nice, if rather frazzled newly-divorced woman trying to hold down a job with two children. Her vegetarian recipes are hilarious -- so long as you don't have to eat them...But this book is as much about the main antagonist as it is about Olive. Throughout the story, this character steadily gains in compelling menace -- although I felt we knew far too much about their capabilities early on, which robbed the latter part of the book of some narrative tension. However, it is still an enjoyable adventure that I devoured in one sitting and would be an ideal beach read.
Click here to buy Shift, by Em Bailey on Amazon
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