“You might think you’re all master-of-your-own-destiny and whatever,” Aubrey said. “But really, you’re caught up in a huge game of Top Trumps.”

Scott’s never been one to show off before so he’s not quite sure why he’s climbing a pylon to impress a girl. When he slips, he really thinks he’s a goner, but instead of breaking all the bones in his body, he comes round lying on the grass with a memory of falling over the fence. Did he climb the pylon or not? Next thing he knows, he’s being dragged off by the girl, Aubrey, and being told off for shifting in public. If he can just avoid being captured by ARES, his knew found gift to change his past decisions is cool, right? Instead, he learns that every shift has consequences…

Shift is like a British, young adult version of The Butterfly Effect with just as chilling effects and served with a side order of humour. Scott’s your average teenage boy, and despite his new found powers, he never really gets past his averageness which makes him a refreshing narrator. He is a little more unusual than the average shifter; he is late to discover his powers and he can remember past realities. He doesn’t come across as the brightest spark, being a little bit gullible and not thinking for himself. Of course the secret organisation has his best interests at heart! Bless him.

As secret government facilities went, this one was a little disappointing. I had been expecting something… well, something more. I had been expecting chrome and glass and ultramodern angles like you saw on spy dramas on TV. I would have happily settled for green leather and wooden panelling like in James Bond films. But this was just like one of the sixth form colleges I’d gone to see last year.

I wasn’t entirely convinced by the covert groups of children using their shifting powers to aid the government. Shifters reach entropy when they get into their twenties and their power fades away. So the shifters are all young adults or children, some as young as nine. Was it all a charade? After all, shifting only changes personal decisions and what decisions do children make that would change the world? Maybe I missed something here but it wasn’t clear.

There’s a pretty terrifying villain too and Kim Curran has done a great job in creating a character that gives you the chills. Later on, some of the unpleasant revelations are rushed over but I imagine this is done for the younger audience. Though I must say near the end, it does go a bit James Bond, where one of the bad guys stands around and tells them his dastardly plan in the belief they’ll be dead any minute now…

Shift is due to be published on 6th September 2012 by Strange Chemistry, the new young adult imprint of Angry Robot. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.

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