I love the genius premise of Changers: each year of high-school, the main character turns into a completely different person. In the case of the main character in Changers: Book One, 13 year old skater dude Ethan Wakes up to discover he has become a blonde girl!
Now, I am always most interested in gender changes, and especially of the unwilling variety, and for Ethan it is most certainly an unwilling change. He actually had been shy around girls and uncomfortable with them, but had set down as one of his goals for his freshman year to get a girlfriend. Now, he suddenly finds he is a girl, and he has no idea how to be HER.
Now, I call it a genius premise because many young people do go through different identities during their high-school years, sometimes willfully and sometimes, like Ethan, now called Drew, in a way that feels unwilling and haphazard. So, I feel that Ethan’s seemingly supernatural experience neatly parallels and explores the real life experiences of young people, especially now that they are more free to explore their gender identity.
In the first part of the book, we get to see Drew as she adjusts to the expectations of girl teen culture, becomes a junior varsity cheerleader and explores relationships with other girls and boys. It’s fun and contains many of the beats we expect, while at the same time offering grounded characters who seem psychologically real.
In addition to her learning how to be a high-school girl, she also has to deal with the fact that she is part of a secret society of kids who are all changing identities just like her, and that this society has a LOT of rules, along with a lot of ominous threats about what will happen if she breaks them.
Which brings me to one thing I didn’t love: I felt the rules of the Changers world were too complicated and limiting, and that too much time was spent dwelling on them. I didn’t find the Changers’ culture believable. For example, all of the changers are sworn to keep their nature a secret, and yet they are then given a tattoo on their butt which makes it easy to identify them. It makes little sense. The character also has to attend an incredibly dull and boring seminar which I found agonizing to read about, and which ended with a huge party for all the changers where they were encouraged to mingle even though they were forbidden from having relationships with each other. So, those section did not shine, especially compared to the other stuff, which was all really great.
I like the book and recommend it. There is even talk of a series, so this could be a really fun TV show one day! Check it out!!!!
Changers Book One
New York Times Feature on the Authors
T Cooper’s Website