Sharon Shinn: Still Life With Shapeshifter
So, remember when I reviewed THE SHAPE OF DESIRE and didn’t know if it was part of a series? Well, it seems it is, because this one follows it. (Good thing I read them in the order I did, even though I got SHAPE OF DESIRE out of the library when STILL LIFE WITH SHAPESHIFTER had been on my bookshelf at home for months…) You can read either first, but if you start with the second book there will be definite spoilers for the first book.
So, my (only kinda spoiler-free) thoughts on this one? I really enjoyed it. As with the first book, I was interested while reading the first half of the book or so, but not completely hooked yet. Yes, I wanted to find out what happened to the characters. Yes, I wanted to finish the book. But yes, I could easily put the book down when it was time to go to sleep or my lunch break was over. And then, half-way through? I could not stop reading. I hit the big hook at the very end of my lunch break (which was torture), thought about reading for the rest of the work day, and then devoured the remainder of the novel between getting home and cooking dinner. (Dinner was only slightly late that night.) As an interesting point, the same thing happened with book 1, where I was interested but not fully caught until the halfway point.
As to the plot and such, you find out early in book 1 (and again in book 2, though I forget where) that Shinn’s shapeshifters don’t live as long as normal humans. I really appreciated this detail of her shapeshifting. It just makes sense. Most animals have shorter lifespans than humans, so for a shapeshifter who spends half their time as an animal, wouldn’t that impact their lifespan? This is the first shifter series I have read that incorporates this, and I appreciate it. I think it was Isaac Asimov who said that good Sci-Fi only changes one thing, and everything else has to fit in with reality. Well, to me, Shinn’s shapeshifters fit in better with this idea than any other shifters I have read. (Granted, shapeshifters aren’t usually considered Sci-Fi, and Fantasy or Paranormal Romance don’t have the same rules. But still, I appreciate it.)
Right. About the book and not just the concept… Our main narrator is Melanie, though there are sections added by Janet periodically. (These will be explained by the end, I promise.) Melanie’s half-sister Ann is a shapeshifter, and Mel’s life has been arranged around trying to protect her sister. Well, enter in a boyfriend for Ann, a reporter asking questions about Ann’s shifter nature, and a possible illness, and there’s plenty going on to make protecting Ann much harder. The details would be too spoiler-y, but I do have to say that I really like the character of the reporter, Brody from the first book. (I didn’t like him then, but you get to know him a lot better here.)
Anyway, this is a fun read. Not super romance-heavy, though it is present without going into tons of detail. The biggest annoyance for me (which admittedly was not a huge annoyance) was the comments by various characters about “I don’t know what to do without you” or “I don’t want to live without you.” Yes, it’s common in romancy-novels. No, it’s not any more believable here when the characters saying it aren’t dramatic teenagers. This wasn’t enough to make me not enjoy the book, but since it did bug me (and I know it’s a pet peeve for some) I thought I should mention it.