Book Review: Shift by Jeri Smith-Ready

Shift is the second book in the Shade series by Jeri Smith-Ready. It was published on 9th June by Simon and Schuster and the book is 384 pages long.

Plot
For a teenage girl, Aura has had to go through a hell of a lot, way more than any normal teenager would. Her rock star boyfriend Logan died not that long ago and now switches in and out of two different states, being a ghost and being a shade. Since his death, Aura has found it extremely difficult to deal with what has happened and can’t quite figure out how to move on, especially as she knows how much he needs her help. Even though Aura loves Logan, there is a connection with the hot Scottish guy Zachary that she cannot deny…and doesn’t want to.

Both boys are fighting for Aura’s attentions but only one of them can have her heart. Before she can decide anything, Aura needs to figure out the mystery of the Shift and how it all connects with her past…making her exactly who she is now. As the mystery unfolds, Aura’s decision only gets more difficult.

What I thought
The first book in this series, Shade, was the first book I ever got for review and it was also my favourite book of the whole of last year. I have been dying to read the sequel since putting down Shade a whole year ago and I was so happy when I finally got it in my hands.

Love triangles seem to be done to death in YA books over the last year and I honestly thought I had had enough of them but Jeri Smith-Ready makes me change my mind. The Aura, Zachary, Logan love triangle is such a fabulous thing to read about because it is so different from any other I have ever read about. As Logan is already dead at the beginning of this book, I was really wondering how the relationship between him and Aura could even continue but I was pleasantly surprised with how this was figured out. I really thought that the love triangle was going to be solved in a really simple way but as I was getting into the story, I realised that it was still anybody’s game when it comes to Aura.

As much as I loved Logan, (because who wouldn’t want a rock star hot guy playing a guitar with a swoon worthy singing voice?) the soft spot I had for Zachary just would not go away. I think that a big part of this was due to how real he was to me and that I could picture him perfectly. Having a (now ex) Scottish male best friend really helped me to picture Zachary and after years of hearing his weird slang, I knew exactly what was being said. The use of language was damn perfect for me from this character and it really helped me to have a whole picture of him in my head.

Now Aura was a character who I couldn’t help but feel sorry for. I can’t imagine everything that must have been going through her head when it came to choosing between these two fabulous boys. On each side, I could see why she would want to choose each one. Zach is obviously the hot foreign guy who is so completely different to her first love, Logan. There are also large parts of the story surrounding each character which makes her decision so hard. Aura can see the good in both Zach and Logan and in her head, has reasons for why she should be with each of them, even if there are difficulties on both sides too. There are some pretty major twists when it comes to the romance department in this book and I loved where Aura’s relationships were taken.

Shift is about so much more than a love triangle though. Learning more about the Shift was really what made this book for me. I had so many questions after Shade and while they weren’t all answered, a lot was. I really had no idea where the story was going to be taken and what the reasoning would be behind certain things but I was so happy with the way it did go. This aspect of the book made it so different from its predecessor but it also tied in extremely well at the same time. While not everything was a complete shock to me, most of it was and I really enjoyed finding out a little bit at a time instead of the whole answer being thrown at me in one go.

As well as learning more about what the whole series is about, there is something in this book for everyone. I really liked the fact that there was a large amount of mystery and action in a place where I wouldn’t expect it to be at all. Because of this change in pace, it makes the book a lot more exciting than the first and gives it a completely different feel. The pace of the book changes constantly due to the different themes running throughout and I thought that this was a nice touch. It always felt like the impossible could happen and that I would never know what was about to happen next. As well as the adventure side to Shift, it is also largely about love and loss and not just for Aura. Starting over and having to deal with some pretty terrible situations is something that a lot of the characters have to deal with.

The ending of Shift left me so full of hope for the third book, Shine but also with a lot of questions. A good chunk of the story was explained in this book but I can see that there is still a hell of a lot more to come and I can’t wait to see what is in store next for Aura. On a quick final note, Jeri Smith-Ready made me cry once again although not for the same reasons as in Shade. I really hope that Shine will be a tear free read but I can’t say that I am too sure that it will happen.

Shift is every bit as good as Shade and very high up on the list of my favourite books of this year. I wasn’t disappointed even a little bit!

Book Review: Shade by Jeri Smith Ready

Like everyone born after The Shift, sixteen year-old Aura can see and talk to ghosts. She’s always found this mysterious ability pretty annoying, wishing only that she could reverse it and have some peace. But when her boyfriend, Logan, dies unexpectedly, Aura is forced to reconsider her connections to the dead…Devastated by Logan’s sudden death, Aura realises that her ability to see ghosts might actually be a blessing. Surely a violet-hued spirit Logan is better than no Logan at all? But just when Aura is coming to terms with having a ghost as a boyfriend, she starts developing feelings for her new friend Zachary, who is understanding, supportive and, most of all, alive. Each boy holds a piece of her heart – as well as vital cues to the secret of the Shift – and it’s time for Aura to choose between loving the living, or embracing the dead...(from Amazon)

I’ve been having a bit of a reading slump recently combined with a hectic schedule. Over the last couple of weeks whenever I found time to pick up a book I really struggled to get into it and abandoned a few after just a couple of pages. Then I picked up Shade by Jeri Smith Ready and by the end of the first page I knew my slump was over.

The world where ghosts walk and talk among the living but are seen by only those born after The Shift is fantastically created. At first I though it seemed kind of cool, but quickly you realise how horrible it actually would be. With the government forcing children to translate in criminal investigations and such, those under 16 are faced with reliving some horrific and traumatic events. Besides, how annoying would it be really to have endless disgruntled ghosts harping on at you? After ten minutes, Very. I thought Jeri Smith Ready got the atmosphere and feelings of her characters spot on and I was able to fully believe in the world she created.

I really liked Aura as a character too. She’s feisty yet incredibly compassionate. I was a little sceptical at first about the love twist between Aura, ghost boyfriend Logan and Scottish Zachary, thinking it may not come across as truly appropriate and real. Would I be able to accept another love interest while she was grieving and her dead boyfriend still hung around as a ghost. Well surprisingly yes, because the author ensures Aura is complex enough and struggles with both her grief and growing attraction in a believable and sympathetic way. As for the love interests, Zachary is amazing-I love him! I live just on the border of Scotland and thought Jeri Smith Ready got his ‘Scottishness’ spot on, down to his wry sense of humour. He was also a lot deeper than I expected and it seems he has an interesting part to play in future sequels. Logan on the other hand didn’t really grab me. He’s a rock star in the making before he dies and extremely self indulgent and spoilt.

The Shift itself remains a bit of a mystery and it’s not clear how it came about, but neither is it to the characters. Throughout the book Aura and Zach find out more about that strange night seventeen years ago and their own involvement in it and their investigations set the scene for a tremendous series ahead. One very very slight complaint I had was the ‘shading’ aspect of ghosts. When a ghost trapped in the real world can’t move on and becomes bitter and angry they Shade, becoming feared dark shadows, yet I didn’t fully get what was so fearful about them as they were quite vague. I’d have possibly liked more explanation and terror here to fully appreciate them. It’s a small niggle though and possibly something that’s followed in the following books.

Overall though Shade was an excellent read and the perfect book to bring me out of my slump. It’s fast paced, original, witty, racy (yes, there’s a particularly steamy scene or two) and sad all at once, with more than a couple of tear jerking scenes and a complete shocker of an ending. I didn’t see that one coming at all! The characters are complex, interesting and I felt I could really care for them. Shade is a fantastic start to an exciting new and fresh paranormal series. Highly recommended!

Published in the UK by Simon & Schuster Children’s Books 2nd September 2010

Guest Review: Shade by Jeri Smith Ready

I’d like to welcome the wonderful Sya, fellow book blogger with her guest review of Shade by Jeri Smith Ready

Shade was one of my most anticipated reads of 2010. I’ve never read any of Jeri Smith-Ready’s adult books, but I really liked the premise laid out for this one. Recently, I’ve had a couple of disappointments with books that I’ve been desperately waiting to read – Shade was not one of them.

Firstly, the premise is compelling in its simplicity. All children born since the Winter solstice seventeen years previous to when our story takes place, have been able to see ghosts. Some of these ghosts are nice but most are pretty disgruntled at their present condition and some become so embittered that they become nasty shadow-creatures known as Shades. As the story progresses, it becomes more complex – particularly regarding how the powers that be deign to deal with the problems that psychic kids and nasty shadows create. There are interesting riffs on duty and exploitation running throughout the story, giving it more depth than it might have otherwise have.

Character-wise I have few complaints. Aura is our main protagonist. During the story she is approaching her seventeenth birthday and dealing with the sudden death of her boyfriend, Logan. Cleverly, while Logan’s death occurs almost immediately, the author then allows a period where he does not appear to Aura, letting the reader get to know her on her own. Her grief is very believable, as is her friendship with new boy Zachary and the struggles that she has with it. I liked Aura a lot – for a YA protagonist she is pleasantly flawed, refreshingly blunt and realistically mature for her age.

Logan, however, is a different kettle of fish. While I could see why Aura was attracted to him, I didn’t find him particularly likable. At seventeen, he is a talented musician and has that tunnel vision that can come with the drive for fame. He also lacks the maturity that Aura displays – jaunting off in his spirit form with nary a thought for the grieving relatives and friends that he leaves behind. It all kind of works, though and I started to warm to him towards the end of the book.

Then there is Zachary. At first I was suspicious that he had been inserted into Shade simply as a love interest for the grieving Aura, but as the story progresses we see that he has a far larger part to play. Again, he is pleasingly honest and charmingly straight-forward regarding his feelings for Aura. He strikes me as the kind of guy who says exactly what he thinks, although not without caution. The relationship between the two of them is particularly well-realised. At no point does it seem rushed and the way that it is left was very pleasing, feeling both realistic and hopeful. I have no idea where it will go next. Also, Zachary is Scottish and so am I. This means that Zachary and I are destined to be together so keep yer mits to yourself. Talking of Zachary’s Scottishness, maddest of mad props to Jeri Smith-Ready for getting it right. I recently reviewed a certain book which, while excellent in most other respects, got the Scottish vernacular of the teenage Scottish character so badly wrong that it almost ruined the entire book for me. In Shade, Jeri gets it exactly right. Particular woot woots for the excellent usage of the words “wean” and “pure hackit”.

The writing in general is a joy to read. The author handles issues such as teen drinking, drugs and sex with honesty – never shying away from the nitty gritty. Throughout Shade, interesting questions are thrown up regarding the balance between an acceptable period of grief and the peace of mind gained by letting go. For Aura, there are difficult decisions to make between her love for Logan and her own future – how do you let go if the person you’ve lost is…well…not so lost? The cliffhanger ending took me by surprise – I hadn’t even realised that this was a part of a series but I am certainly glad that it is. For anyone looking for a ghost story with a modern twist (and why wouldn’t you be??) then this is for you. Absolutely the best paranormal read of the year so far.

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Thanks Sya for a brilliant review…I’m looking forward to reading this myself! (My copy is currently available on UK Book Tours for anyone who’d like to read it)

Sya can usually be found at her awesome blog, The Mountains Of Instead. I highly recommend going to check out more of her fantastic reviews