The Cheerleader, The Nerd, The Jock, The Freak. What if you had to be all four?
Changers book one: DREW opens on the eve of Ethan Miller's freshman year of high school in a brand-new town. He's finally sporting a haircut he doesn't hate, has grown two inches since middle school, and can't wait to try out for the soccer team. At last, everything is looking up in life.
Until the next morning. When Ethan awakens as a girl.
Ethan is a Changer, a little-known, ancient race of humans who live out each of their four years of high school as a different person. After graduation, Changers choose which version of themselves they will be forever - and no, they cannot go back to who they were before the changes began.
Ethan must now live as Drew Bohner - a petite blonde with an unfortunate last name - and navigate the treacherous waters of freshman year while also following the rules: Never tell anyone what you are. Never disobey the Changers Council. And never, ever fall in love with another Changer. Oh, and Drew also has to battle a creepy underground syndicate called 'Abiders' (as well as the sadistic school queen bee, Chloe). And she can't even confide in her best friend Audrey, who can never know the real her, without risking both of their lives.
I was drawn to this because of the weirdness - I haven't seen anything like this before and was instantly intrigued. What I got was a lot more than I expected; not only was it Ethan turning into Drew and figuring out her new life, it also had this strange cult-like feel to the rules and regulations of being a Changer. Part science fiction, part religious, it did get a bit weird; I'm really hoping that later books will explain some more about the Changers Council.
Speaking of the Council, they abide over the Changers, made sure they were revealing anything secret or dangerous to people they shouldn't. The Council was all about being the best self you could be and held talks and wrote their bible on how the Changers were proof that people weren't that different and could be brought together towards peace. Then there were the Radical Changers (or RaChas for short), who didn't believe in the Council's view, they thought there was nothing wrong in revealing themselves to bring about change. All this political talk was kind of confusing and only came in every now and then, mostly (I'm assuming) because Drew didn't particularly care either way. She was more than happy to go about her life, figuring things out one step at a time.
Drew's narrative was very easy to read, almost train of thought style prose, as it was told by Drew's chronicle aka her diary in her head - yes, that's another reason I had problems with the cult/serious religion side of the Changers: she had a chip in her brain! But it was super funny and explores everyday sexism. As a boy for the first 14 years of his life, Drew is suddenly subject to leering and stupid comments, and she finds it hard initially to navigate life as a teenage girl. She also has to figure out her new wardrobe and her comments on the clothes she is now forced to wear caused me to fist bump the book, that's how much it made me happy to hear someone complaining about how utterly impractical women's jeans are!
All in all, a great start to what I hope will be an incredible series. It had great friendships, explored fluid sexuality as well as sexism, first love, the impact of religion and figuring out your sense of self.
Published 12th January 2016 by Atom. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.