Monday, October 19, 2009
REVIEW: THE SHIFTER by Janice Hardy
Nya is an orphan struggling for survival in a city crippled by war. She is also a Taker—with her touch, she can heal injuries, pulling pain from another person into her own body. But unlike her sister, Tali, and the other Takers who become Healers' League apprentices, Nya's skill is flawed: She can't push that pain into pynvium, the enchanted metal used to store it. All she can do is shift it into another person, a dangerous skill that she must keep hidden from forces occupying her city. If discovered, she'd be used as a human weapon against her own people.
Rumors of another war make Nya's life harder, forcing her to take desperate risks just to find work and food. She pushes her luck too far and exposes her secret to a pain merchant eager to use her shifting ability for his own sinister purposes. At first Nya refuses, but when Tali and other League Healers mysteriously disappear, she's faced with some difficult choices. As her father used to say, principles are a bargain at any price; but how many will Nya have to sell to get Tali back alive?
I've said this before, but I'm gonna say it again, dang it! I'm not very good at writing reviews. It feels like a book report, which feels like homework, and the idea of homework turns my brain to mush, even though I've been out of school for like... Well, we don't need numbers for everything. ;P But I read it, and I liked it, so here's my two cents, in all its awkward glory:
I was super excited when I won an ARC of THE SHIFTER (in case you couldn’t tell from all the previous posts about it). I first heard about it on agent Kristin Nelson’s blog. I liked the premise and the original title (UK title), THE PAIN MERCHANTS, sounded very cool, so I planned to purchase it when it came out.
But you can’t beat free, and it’s an ARC too! Woohoo! I did purchase a copy as well. More on that at the end. :)
First off, I have to point out that the book starts out with chickens. If you’ve read Janice Hardy’s blog or The Healing Wars blog, you know she has a thing for chickens. I think it’s awesome she found a way to work it into her book. It works perfectly too.
Chickens and all, the tension starts on the first page and keeps up a nice, steady build until the end. Nya is relatable and real, and I found myself rooting for her as she was forced to choose between using her ability to help or to hurt, in order to protect the people she loves.
While the story touches on some serious issues like poverty and discrimination, it’s geared toward a younger audience, so it was a relatively light, easy read. I breezed through it in less than a week, just reading for an hour or so each night. My kids (ages 8, 9, and 11) are excited about it, and I feel very comfortable with them reading it.
Unlike other books I’ve read recently, I didn’t find myself going into editor mode as I read. Yes, there were a few obvious typos, but I’m assuming those were caught and fixed before the final printing. I did notice a couple of similes that tripped me up, but I’m starting to think I might have simile issues. I’ll be discussing that topic further on Wednesday.
Altogether, it was a great read, and I’m looking forward to the sequel.
Now, for the reason I purchased a book I already have an ARC of. Tune in tomorrow for the first official contest on my blog! I have my 100th post coming up and the best holiday of the year (that would be Halloween) is next week, so it’s time to celebrate! :)