Series: Changers #1
Published by Hachette Australia on January 13th 2014
Genres: Adolescence, Family, Fantasy & Magic, Fiction, General, Social Issues, Young Adult
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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 has had a lot of changes in his life recently. Relocating to a new state, preparing to start high school and leaving everyone he knows behind. He never expected to wake up the first day of freshman year in a new body! With a new face, name and gender, Ethan (now Drew) has to acclimate to being a teenage girl and all which that entails. All the while knowing at the end of the year he will change again and have no idea who he will wake up as.
Changers in theory is the ultimate book on acceptance. Drew – the first book in the Changers series – endeavours to challenge our preconceived notions of gender identity and sexuality.
In theory I loved this book. The idea of promoting understanding between the sexes by having one character living as both. For that character to still have a core sense of who they are as a person regardless of gender is kind of cool. There is this sense of loving self and others regardless of the packaging they come in. That the self “transcends” gender.
However I didn’t love Changers: Drew as much in execution as I wanted to. I felt that the characters fell back on gender stereotypes. Especially with regards Ethan and Drew. This amongst other things made Ethan/Drew feel like completely separate entities rather than one soul, different bodies.
I was confused by just how little support Drew was given. Waking up as somebody else and having no idea what was going on seems like it would be a little traumatic. Sending her off to school without even having a day to acclimate to having a new face, name and sex organs seems like it would be impossible to deal with. The Changers governing body felt a little cult like and more of a way to facilitate Drew’s meeting Chase than anything else. There was quite a lot of information given and at the same time not enough regarding the secret organisation and Drew’s situation. There were times when it felt like it was a bit of an information overload with all that we were learning. But it was more like an info-dump than a steady flow of learning.
And I had slight issues with Drew’s parents. Her father – a Changer who himself went through what Drew is dealing with when he was a teen – lacked compassion and was shown to be treating Drew differently as a girl than he had treated Ethan. For a book which tries to show that the self transcends gender, I felt this was wrong. I felt like of all the people in Drew’s life, her dad who knew his child as both and he himself has been male and female should have been the one character in this book to see the person underneath. But if this book has taught me anything it is that dads love their daughters like princesses and need sons to talk about baseball with. And mums all love to give daughters fashion advice…
Would I read the next book in the series? Yes. I’m curious to see what happens when Drew changes into her next version of self. There are a lot of unanswered questions I have about certain things in the book and the organisation of Changers which I hope to get answers to in future books in the series. And I’m eagerly awaiting to see if Drew’s new version has to interact with friends she made as Drew and how things go from there.
Should you read Changers:Drew? Look, I think it’s an interesting book with a great concept. But I think that the ideas this book wanted to challenge were somewhat contradicted by the way the story was written. Full of gender stereotypes, information overload and plot holes, this book could be a slight challenge to read at times. But I do believe this series will develop into something quite special. And plus – there’s an author endorsement by John Green on the cover (“Fantastic and Poignant”) so that’s something.
Many thanks to Hachette Australia for the review copy.