Shift: Natural Or Supernatural? Take It Either Way

Shift is written by Em Bailey. It was published in 2011 (in Australia) by Egmont (and in 2012 in the US). Bailey’s Goodreads page can be found here.

Genre: Realistic, Supernatural, Young Adult


“Olive Corbett is not crazy. Not anymore. She obediently takes her meds and stays under the radar at school. After “the incident,” Olive just wants to avoid any more trouble, so she knows the smartest thing is to stay clear of the new girl who is rumored to have quite the creepy past.

But there’s no avoiding Miranda Vaile. As mousy Miranda edges her way into the popular group, right up to the side of queen bee Katie—and pushes the others right out—only Olive seems to notice that something strange is going on. Something almost…parasitic. Either Olive is losing her grip on reality, or Miranda Vaile is stealing Katie’s life.

But who would ever believe crazy Olive, the girl who has a habit of letting her imagination run away with her? And what if Olive is the next target?”

~Inside Flap


Memory is such a weird thing. There are some things, like songs, that I literally only need to hear once and they are permanently locked into my brain. Other things, like algebraic formulas, can pass through my mind multiple times without leaving a trace. But sometimes you remember stuff even when you don’t want to. Some things you know will stay with you, in perfect detail, for the rest of your life.

This moment was like that, when I first made eye contact with Miranda, and I recoiled like I’d been stung. I’d never seen eyes like hers before. The pupils seemed to be made of metal, hard and brightly polished. Reflected in them I could see my own face, staring back.

~Bailey 15-16

My shoes made mouse-like noises on the polished corridor tiles. Room 8, Room 9. I tried to work out what to say to Katie that sounded halfway believable. You know your supposed best friend Miranda? I think she’s draining you of your personality and spirit. It was going to be tricky.

~Bailey 133

Cover Art

Warnings: Swearing, attempts of suicide

Recommended Age Range: 14+

Rating: 4/5

What I Liked:

Probably one of the best things I enjoyed about this book was the supernatural/natural aspect of it. Was Miranda actually a shapeshifter (the proper term really should be energy vampire, or something, rather than shapeshifter) or was it Olive’s meds? It could really go either way. Miranda is either literally sucking the life out of Katie, or it’s just a toxic, parasitic relationship. Either way, Miranda is a terrible person. It could be taken as either supernatural or natural, and that just makes it even more scary/creepy, in my opinion.

When I think shapeshifting, I think animals, not personality. But who knows? Sometimes redefinitions/new angles are a good thing. Energy vampire is still probably more accurate, though.

So, I did not expect that whole thing with Ami at all. Wow. Although, looking back on it now, you can totally tell with what Bailey does with interaction and response and things. Still, it was a shock to me, and reinforced the idea that maybe Olive really is imagining the whole shapeshifter thing—although that doesn’t mean that Miranda isn’t bad. It just means that Olive might be an unreliable narrator. And Olive’s realization that she might be an unreliable narrator just makes it that much better.

What I Didn’t Like:

The only reason I didn’t give this book a 5 was because Lachlan was a really cliché, hot romantic type. And the whole revelation thing about his family was just…ugh. Really? Really. Also, Bailey is an Australian German (or German Australian?) and so uses a lot of German and Australian slang that is a little difficult to understand. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it can be confusing to read if you’re not familiar with that vocabulary.

Overall Review:

Shift is a really, really good book. I’m starting to warm up to the whole supernatural genre, I think, which is good because I’m reading a whole lot more of it. I loved the conflict between the supernatural and the natural in this book and the either/or aspect of it. Lachlan was cliché, but Olive was great.

Coming Up Next: Shadowlands by Kate Brian

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