Published September 30th, 2008.
In fifteen year-old Adrian Havoc’s world, Homestate rules every aspect of society: identity cards need to be carried at all times, evolution is a forbidden topic of discussion, and religious education is enforced in daily “rapture” doses. If life weren’t hard enough, now come the threats that the end of the world–SHIFT–is quickly approaching. But Adrian refuses to accept things as they are. He sets out for the toxic Deadlands on a trip that may very well alter the course of the universe. (goodreads.com)
SHIFT had such crazy potential if you’re reading the blurb but getting into it, it just felt rushed. Scenes changed in a jolted, jerky sort of way and information was thrown at you without much explanation. Like how the US got to be in this Homestate situation to begin with. Apparently nuclear bombs dropped and took out all of Massachusetts. From what I could tell, Adrian was living in either Connecticut or Rhode Island. Based on driving distance and the directions they were talking about traveling and through which states, those are the only two options that made sense. What didn’t make sense was how the entire region wasn’t affected by nuclear fallout.
By the time I got to the end of the book I just felt like all of the information was dumped on me and then ran like water on Teflon. It could have been so much better if the pace was slowed down, situations were dwelling on a little more and things weren’t so forced. Odd and awkward inserts of curse words throughout the story made it a little weird to read. Every time I came across it it just felt misplaced and it was jarring to read as a result. The psychic sister was nothing more than a tool that helped advance the plot more easily and the penguin was just an excuse to get them to travel. Once it was set free, it stopped serving its purpose and to me it ultimately felt like a sorry excuse to once again further the plot.
Adrian is a bit of a non-conformist with a mother that apparently doesn’t care much about him because he disappears for days at a time without her so much as worrying. His whole character just felt like it was trying too hard so I never really connected with him. Shriek, as I said above, was just a plot-serving tool that made sure the pieces were set up for Adrian to nicely resolve the conflict. It felt way too easy and because it was so rushed I was left unsatisfied at the end.
There were some neat concepts and I think the world was broaching on something that could have been awesome but I just felt not enough time was spent in really digging into not only the story but the characters. They were caricatures in their own story instead of actual people. I couldn’t believe a lot of it because of the distance I felt. SHIFT felt like a paint-by-numbers story created to ride on the dystopian wave. It had potential, but it’s execution was weak and lacking. I can be left wanting in a book but there has to be some satisfaction there. Here there really isn’t much. The writing was decent but in a simple kind of way. There wasn’t much going on between the lines and I felt that was another area where it could have enriched the story more.
Ban Factor: High – With swearing and the breaking down of a devout Christian regime, the banners would be twitching.