Thursday, July 22, 2010
The Shifter by Janice Hardy
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.