Wow. I am seriously delighted and impressed with this book. While it has some concepts in it that weren't exactly aligned with my own thought processes, and while it introduced some other concepts that were surprising, even when they made perfect sense once you had them introduced to you, it was a book that was overall wonderful with fantasy and imagination! It's so great to pick up a book and read about things that are so creative and wonderful. I love being able to experience a story that says, "Well, why can't we do that? Why can't we do this? We can do the impossible. Who's to say that we can't?"
That's what reading this book was like. It was like picking up a book that had been the very echo of my feelings and dreams and desires ever since I was a child and finding for the first time that I was not the only one who thought these things. There was a lot that went into the actual finding of one's self when you're able to use the abilities of a "Switcher" as they were called in this story, and I think for anyone who hasn't been too involved in this type of fantasy before, that this would be a perfect book to start you off on a well-grounded introduction of what it means to be able to shapeshift.
Now for some personal rambling. No need to read this part if you'd like. This is my own critique concerning Shapeshifting and Shapeshifters as a species. It has no bearing on the book or its enjoyability, so you can feel free to skip past this part to the next bolded section where I continue on after my own musings. If you're interested in more thoughts on Shapeshifters themselves though, feel free to read below.
On another note, I feel that they made this magical ability also too commonplace. Perhaps that is only my own viewpoint from this preference-- and in all actuality, I'm getting into my own rambling thoughts and not critiquing the book whatsoever at this point-- it made the point of saying that you were given this gift and could choose to be whatever you wanted, up until a certain age. They made it rare, but also made it easily accessible. And while it eases the responsibility of having shapeshifters come off as an entire race-- instead claiming that everyone could potentially unlock that ability-- it makes things feel incomplete. It doesn't separate shapeshifting itself from an Ability or a Gift. It remains simply as that.
Mind, there is nothing wrong with that whatsoever, but it ruins the rarity of a gift like this, and of the responsibility that comes with this ability. I suppose that was why the age-limit was placed into the storyline as well, to check those freedoms. But in the end, while the details of shifting in this book are so akin to the freedom and wonder of what this ability means, it still has a long way to go before it measures up to the thoughts that I've had of it.
End personal musings.
Altogether the book was really a fun read. It had the excitement and wonder that all fantasy books should contain at least a fraction of, in my opinion. It also dealt with the reality of things as opposed to the magical abilities that the two main characters were bestowed with, and I was glad of that. Likewise, I enjoyed the way that the author took the time to change the writing to suit the varying thought and speech patterns of the different animals that our main characters turned into. I even like the fact that she made a point of alerting us when traits from the animals that our two main characters liked to change into the most, began to be conveyed even in their human forms. I found it a very keen inclusion in a story that handled the ability to shapeshift and take on the forms of different animals very well altogether.
The funniest thing about this book is that, for its length, you'd think it would feel short. But I felt that the book ran just as long as was necessary and ended quite well. It was decisive in the way it handled important decisions that our main characters needed to make, and that rounded off the end quite smoothly for a story that just barely surpassed 200 pages.
Even if you're not big on shapeshifters themselves, if you like adventure and animals, some mythological creatures and moments of well-written excitement, I think you'd quite love this book. It's definitely one of those books that any fantasy lover should look into and even consider adding into their library. If nothing else, it feels like a very good book to me if you want a solid example of what Shapeshifters should be like and want a reliable source to point anyone's questions to.
My recommendation: Fantasy and animals lovers should definitely check this one out and even risk buying it right off the bat, because you'll find it has enough a mix of both to satisfy for the short read that it is. For all others that have their interest sparked a little by this review, definitely give it a shot! I found this one at my library, so I'm sure that you could track it down without too much difficulty yourself. And if not, ask the librarians to order it for you. I've never seen this book outside of the library though, so other than that, I'll have to point you eBay or the like to try to find it there for a fair price. But definitely give it a run if you see it around and these things are up your alley! Otherwise, if you want just an adventure, give it a go and see!
Hope some of you will like it as much as I did!