Saturday, August 7, 2010

Book Review: Shift by Tim Kring, Dale Peck

Title: Shift (Book 1 of the Gate of Orpheus Trilogy)
Authors: Tim Kring, Dale Peck
Publisher: Crown
Release Date: 08/10/2010
ISBN: 0307453456

If you are a Heroes fan, you are sure to recognize Tim Kring as the creator of the series. For some readers this knowledge will either hurt or help your perception of the book. As for me, I've never watched the show, so I went into this book without any preconceptions about Kring or Dale.

Shift begins in the year 2012. A fiery figure appears in the sky before several witnesses. Many say that the figure seemed to be searching for someone but couldn't find them. The book then jumps to the 1960s when Kennedy was President. Chandler Forrestal is a rather average young man whose interests only involve such tame things as becoming a professional student. He meets the sultry Naz in a bar & from there Chandler is thrown into a top secret project involving LSD- a project only known as Project Orpheus. When he escapes, Chandler is followed by a homicidal rogue agent known only as Melchior, a man who is willing to do anything to get what he wants. Anything. But why are they doing this? And how does this tie into the assassination of President Kennedy?

Drawing on the fascinating mystery behind the Kennedy assassination as well as actual government experiments on LSD, Kring comes up with a story premise that is truly intriguing. In addition to the cool premise of LSD superheroes & JFK, Kring also gives us several fantastic characters, including the beautiful Naz. Despite her somewhat negative (but understandably so) outlook on life, her pure charisma managed to shine throughout her brief but important interactions in the book. And the LSD trips? Those are the moments when the book really shines & takes off. You can't help but be interested in what is seen & done.

Where the book veers off course is through the all too frequent character shifts. While each shift has something interesting to add, at times it just interrupted the flow of the book. Occasionally I would find myself getting into the actions of a specific character (Naz & Melchior being my personal favorites), only to find myself getting thrown off when the action would jump to Chandler or one of the other characters in the book.

This didn’t make the book bad, just a little harder to read at times & I can’t help but think that a reader looking for more casual fare would be turned off by this book. This is no leisurely beach read- this is a book that has a lot going on & expects the reader to read & interact with it. But for those willing to put a little effort into this read, it is sure to be rewarding.

(ARC provided by NetGalley)

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