Sunday, October 4, 2015

Book Review: "The Shifter" by Chris T. Acadian

Reading The Shifter on my computer.

Book: The Shifter by Chris T. Acadian
Genre: Contemporary fiction, science
           fiction, young adult
Awards: None
My rating: 4/5 stars
One word description:  Intriguing

I had the privilege of meeting Chris T. Acadian in my creative writing class at Evangel University. Acadian spoke to our class and first proposed the potential of the fourth dimension, a topic that has baffled yet fascinated me from a young age, especially when connected with another book Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions. But that’s a book for another time. Then Acadian introduced The Shifter and blatantly told the class we would not like the main character, Faedra Madison Mae. My original thought on that: “Challenge accepted!”

This fall, I dove into The Shifter, determined to enjoy reading about this protagonist. Three chapters in, I discovered Acadian was right. I didn’t like Faedra. She is arrogant and dislikes nearly every other character in the story. But, hard as it may seem, I found myself relating with her in so many ways, especially concerning her awkward nature around other people and the way she rarely voices her feelings. Ultimately, though an unlikeable protagonist, Faedra remains a character of strong convictions, making her admirable in other ways and contrasting her faults.

The story starts out in a seemingly ordinary way, filled with the everyday life of Faedra attending school. But the Institute for Dimensional Studies is not just any school, and Faedra isn’t your typical three-dimensional being. She’s a shifter with fourth-dimensional capabilities, and the story soon becomes about anything but ordinary life, with hints of super-human abilities. While the plot builds up to encounters with other shifters, the book never loses its touch of ordinary life with its supporting characters. 

At first, Acadian’s writing style was a little jarring. The story is written in first person, past tense (not unusual if you ask me), but there were very few of Faedra’s actual thoughts. She saw things and reacted. Life seemed to merely happen to her. The descriptions were rather minimal, and Faedra acted far more than she thought, even when she was alone. But, as the story progressed, Faedra spent less time letting life happen and more time doing something about it. Even Acadian’s writing style plays in with one of the novel’s major themes that one of the characters, Nic, mentions:
“I don’t care what bubble of self-pity you’ve lived in until now. I’m not going to let you be a little baby any longer…take my advice as you will. But life doesn’t happen to you; it happens because of you. Stop being so helpless and make your life happen.”
I gave The Shifter 4/5 stars for its slower place and seemingly confusing climax. There was a lot of build up throughout the story, but very little is actually resolved. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the story more and more as it progressed. My only complaint? When will there be a book two? Chris T. Acadian, you can’t end it there! In other words, I look forward to the sequel. I’d recommend this book for anybody interested in the possibilities of the fourth dimension or even a good book with human characters and adventures.

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