Monday, June 16, 2014

The Shifter by Janice Hardy

The Shifter
Author: Janice Hardy
Publisher:  Harperteen
Pages: 370
Release Date: October 1st, 2009
Source: Oyster Book Subscription Service

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?

The Shifter is an engaging read that's easy to pick up and finish in one sitting. The plot flows well and the characters, at least to me, felt believable. 

Nya was born with an ability she has to hide, but I like that it's because her powers are 'flawed', not because she has them at all. While many people can take pain and put it into pynvium, Nya can send this pain into others. The emotional struggles such an ability creates make the plot captivating to me. What would you do if you could take another persons pain? What would you do if you could then pass it on?

Nya isn't perfect as a heroine. She makes some choices right, the others wrong. She doesn't save everyone, but she tries her best to make the right decisions. In the end, she has to live with the consequences. It isn't a perfect ending, and it leads into future books without feeling like an unnecessary cliffhanger. I appreciate a book that leaves room for growth and doesn't feel too dense.

Nya's powers develop at an acceptable rate to me, which was another plus. While I've been frustrated in the past with books because characters feel overpowered, at least for now Nya seemed to fit the powerset she was given. The other characters aren't as fleshed out as her, perhaps, but I did feel Nya herself was dimensional. I also did see the potential for growth in the future without having too much in this first segment. 

Overall, I look forward to reading the next few books in the series. Not going to lie, they may have cheated their way up my reading list. 

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