Paranormal Young Adult
309 pages/367 pages
Received courtesy of Big Honcho Media for review
No one really knows why the Shift occurred, just that suddenly children born after a certain date were able to see and speak to ghosts, and those born before were not. For Aura, seeing ghosts has always been a part of her life, but when her boyfriend Logan dies, it becomes a way for her to hold on to what she's lost.
When exchange student Zachary shows up at school around the time of Logan's death, Aura's entire world changes yet again. Working together on an assignment researching possibilities for the cause of the Shift, Aura and Zachary discover shocking information about their pasts, their families, and their involvement with the Shift itself.
Though Aura is grateful she hasn't yet lost Logan forever, his continued presence is tortuous as she struggles to come to terms with her residual feelings for him as well as her new attraction to Zachary. But important people are starting to take notice of Zachary and Aura's connection and their link to the Shift, putting more than just their hearts in jeopardy as they seek answers.
Despite its paranormal element, the world of Shade and Shift is one that's easily believable, the existence of ghosts explained in such a matter-of-fact way we have no choice but to accept the parameters set for us and get immersed in a tale of love and loss, pain and joy, and life and death. Because we know Logan's passing is inevitable from the beginning, the weight of this knowledge draws us into this story almost instantaneously as we mentally and emotionally prepare ourselves for his demise, and attempt to steel our spines in order to be a vicarious support system for Aura when the time comes. Our preparations don't spare us the pain of his loss as we'd hoped though, and we read on with heavy hearts to see what awaits us now that Aura's relationship has changed so dramatically. Ms. Smith-Ready does a lovely job of interrupting our pain with the distraction of a new possible love interest and the mystery surrounding Aura's connection to him, ensuring we never get lost in the churning tide of misery but always have a lifeline to pull us out of the despairing blackness.
Logan is a fascinating character–a young man who seems rather selfish in his pursuit of music to the exclusion of all else (including Aura) during life, and then who, after death, glories in being a ghost despite the pain his presence causes those around him. Because of this, as well as the fact that we are introduced to him a point in his and Aura's relationship where she's beginning to have doubts and reservations about her place in his life, our connection to him is troubled. Though his death is agonizing, it's fairly easy to shift our focus and affection to Zachary as we don't have the benefit of years of memories that Aura has from their shared childhood. Then, just when we think Aura should move on and let Logan go, he either voices a sentiment or makes a gesture that sucker punches us in the gut, the ethereal violet tendrils that comprise his ghostly form suddenly becoming tangible emotional links instead of whispering through our fingers as we grasp for connection. This surprising rush of feeling makes us realize we're not quite ready for Logan to pass on, and we begin to see more clearly why Aura has been waffling with her reactions to both Logan and Zachary.
Shift is a bit heavier on the angst than Shade, Aura's continued confusion over her affections for both boys becoming more prominent, and just as she seems to have a decision made, new information pops up with regard to the Shift to the keep the drama going. When a third romantic player enters the picture, we do begin to question the state of things, but luckily for us his presence is short-lived and the angst is toned down in favor of some very interesting revelations about both Aura and Zachary's pasts. We're given just a few more hints as to what makes these two so special, and our tumultuous emotions are given a brief and welcome reprieve while our minds churn over the possibilities this new information has provided. When the Logan gut-clenching moment does come back at the end to blissfully torture us, we find ourselves ready for the onslaught and finish the last few pages greatly looking forward to the future.
Shade and Shift are very quick reads that deny us any other option than to be involved with characters and story, working us into a frenzy of teen drama and then shifting our attention to an intriguing enigma surrounding our two main protagonists. The combination of romance and suspense is beautifully executed, and Ms. Smith-Ready seems to know just when the Logan/Zachary competition is about to become too much and then relents, allowing us to breathe again and immerse ourselves in the story in a different way. The final installment in this trilogy cannot release soon enough, and I will be at the bookstore the moment it's available.
Overall Series Rating: 4/5
Thanks to the wonderful people at Simon Pulse and Big Honcho Media, I have one copy of both Shade and Shift to give away to one lucky winner today! To enter, just leave a comment with a valid email address so I can contact you if you win. This contest is open to US residents only and will run through midnight EST on June 11th after which time a winner will be chosen by Random.org and announced on the blog. Good luck everyone!
If you haven't had a chance yet, be sure and check out the series trailer!