Thursday, July 22, 2010

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 really enjoyed this story. Nya was an interesting character with an incredibly strong voice. I loved her humor, as well as how she viewed her world. Watching her grow from a survivor, to a reluctant heroine, to a purposeful rebel was just wonderful.

The world that Nya lives in is just as intriguing as she is. I love the idea that the ability to heal others comes with a price. In Nya’s case, it’s mental anguish from knowing that, in order to heal one person, someone else must suffer the pain. She’s presented with very difficult choices and does the best she can with them. She doesn’t let her choices endlessly torture her (they bother her, but don’t incapacitate her), which I found very believable since she’s a survivor, and survivors quickly learn how to compartmentalize. The fact that she’s always quick to make amends, and goes to a great extent to do so, shows how much she wants to make things right with the world.

The political aspects were sometimes confusing, and there were a few times where I had to go back and figure out who was connected to who and how/why. But that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story. The villains were evil, but with a clear purpose, which kept them from being flat. Nya’s friends were strong and likable, with plenty of flaws that kept them interesting.

Nya’s gradual discovery of her skills upped the stakes in wonderful ways, and paved the way for the next book in the trilogy. Which I am very much looking forward to. Definitely recommended.


S.A. Larsenッ said...

Great review! I've heard really good things about this book. I hopped over here from YAlitchat. I moderate the MG Lair. Nice to meet you.

Beth Fred said...

Great review.

Tabitha said...

Salarsen - nice to meet you too! I lurk at YAlitchat often, so I've seen you around. It's a great site! And thanks for stopping by!

Beth - thanks!

Tere Kirkland said...

Great review! I've been eying this book on my e-wishlist for a few days now. When I finish my revisions, maybe this will be the next book I download. Thanks!

cleemckenzie said...

I think reading about Nya's decision process would be interesting.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great review. I got this book for Christmas after asking for it and LOVED it. I can't wait for the sequel.

Janice Hardy has a great blog on the craft of writing. I really recommend it.

Michelle D. Argyle said...

Great review! I've seen this elsewhere and wondered what others thought. Thanks!