Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Review of The Shifter by Janice Hardy

Balzer + Bray
The Shifter: The Healing Wars Book I
by Janice Hardy
4 Stars
Some would argue that humans have the power to heal through touch—and in this story orphan Nya has harnessed this miraculous power. But the pain Nya takes when she heals another does not simply dissipate once it is taken; pain must be endured by the taker or disposed of. Unlike the healers at "The League," who can dump the pain of sickness and injury into a charmed block of rock called Pynvium once they have removed it, Nya must either endure the pain she takes or "push" it into another human being, two options that both have terrible consequences at best! Thus, her "gift" is no more than a curse that might get her killed by the ruling powers, and so she keeps her gift hidden—that is until her sister, Tali goes missing from The League, and Nya must risk exposure to find her.

The main character, Nya, jumps off the starting block on page one courting trouble and running from the authorities for her life, and this frenetic and exciting pace continues throughout. Hardy is a master at making every chapter end on a cliffhanger, thereby forcing the reader to plow on in anticipation of the next action scene or plot twist. Meanwhile, the circumstances of Nya’s childhood and the country’s past war are artfully and naturally woven into the dialogue, building a world where innocent Nya and her sister are hated underdogs and social outcasts. Perhaps it is this or Nya’s courage that endears readers to her, but regardless, Nya’s character is easy to identify with and love. Nya struggles with her choices like we all do, and discovers that sometimes circumstances don’t always allow for a perfect solution. Sometimes one must choose between options that are less than ideal. Couple the events in the story with an ironic twist near the end, and readers will be anxious to read the next two books in this series already on the shelves. Book Two, Blue Fire, and Book Three, Darkfall.

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