A First Person Win | Review of ‘Shifters’ (Shifters #1)

By Cynthia Ayala

Shifters by Douglas and Angela Pershing
Pershing Books
Image Credit: Goodreads

Brother and sister, Tanner and Ryland have not only discovered that they are adopted, that have discovered that they aren’t even from Earth. They are Shifters, rescued by Ordinaries forced off their planet by savage laws and brutal dictatorship of their rulers. Now on Earth, Tanner and Ryland’s lives are in danger not only by a sec of the government called Keepers, but also from Shifters who are trying to keep a prophecy from coming true.

Published on August 1, 2013 by Pershing Books, Shifters is the first novel in the young adult sci-fi Shifters series by father and daughter Douglas and Angela Pershing.

So the basis of this story is not terribly unique: kids from a foreign land are relocated to save them from death. Even the fact that they are aliens doesn’t make it unique or the fact that there is a prophecy that forces their emigration. These various elements are in different forms of literature, and for this story, these are the foundation of the story and the entire premise. That being said, what makes it unique is the narrative.

Douglas and Angela Pershing were able to create to distinct narrative to tell the story. In each chapter, the POV shifts between Tanner and Ryland, brother and sister. However, it’s not in the third person, it is in the first person, giving the reader a more intimate look at the story through the eyes of these characters. Sometimes there are slips between the narratives where it turns omniscient, but they are rare, and even in those occasions, it looks as though it was hard to build the scene fully by only looking through the eyes of the characters. That can be a struggle for some authors, and is often not forgivable, but here, the voices are just so incredible that if one is not reading closely and carefully, they will miss those moments completely by being absorbed in the scenes.

The relationship between the characters is believable, and the voice is there between them and they are talking to the reader, breaking the fourth wall, creating a connection with the reader. It’s not only the fact that the story is told in the first person, but it is also the fact that the voices of the characters resonate so strongly that it feels like an actual story someone is telling by sitting across the table. It is so incredibly detailed and structured that makes reading this tale amazing.

There are some drawbacks, however. As pointed out up above, because everything is in the first person, some of the scenes lack specifics. Those scenes move fast between all the action and “shifting” that makes reading it a little jarring, taking the reader out of the story. It breaks up the momentum that is brought out by the voice. Then there are the scenes that make no sense at all. Their adoptive mother has just realized her children are in danger and is worried about them being captured and killed, yet she still lets them walk to school the next day. Is this a plot device? Yes. Is it a good one? No. They saved the kids by flying to another planet, that is how much they care, but when danger is that close, no, it just does not work. Then there is the cliché of pairing up three guys with three girls romantically. Romance is spilling onto every page detracting not just from the plot but also from the characters as if they are not “real” unless they are in a sort of romantic relationship. There is nothing wrong with being friends; they don’t all have to be romantically interested in someone else.

Nevertheless, the powerful and different voices of the characters make the novel a fun and energetic read. Moreover, even though each romantic relationship detracts a little of who these characters are, they also bring out something in the others, a strength that makes them the heroes they are meant to be. (★★★☆☆ | B-)

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