The country is at war. Beset by enemies within and without. And all because of the decisions changed by one boy, Scott Tyler. In this ravaged alternative reality, Scott hardly recognises himself. He's a war hero, a leader of a unit of Shifters and maybe the only one who can prevent the country's frail defences from crumbling.At the end of Control, Scott made a massive shift to undo the events caused by Frankie, the main "bad guy" of that book. Well, actually, Scott forces her to undo her choices, so that he can save his girlfriend. Delete opens just as that shift has been made and Scott finds himself in a worse reality, one where world war three (although they don't call it that) is ravaging the UK. All shifter children are recruited to the army to fight, Scott is in charge of the whole fighting shifter department, and Project Ganymede, the programme cutting up kids' brains which Scott stopped in the previous reality, is in full swing on a greater scale. Turns out Frankie's manipulations of world political events, while self-serving, were at least holding war at bay.
But all Scott wants to do is find a way back to the world he knew, without losing the girl he loves. With every Shift he makes, Scott edges closer towards oblivion. With no one to trust – not even himself – how much is he willing to risk to get home?
It's immediately clear to Scott that the reality he finds himself in now is pretty crappy, but he resists shifting back immediately because he doesn't want Aubrey to be dead. Instead, with slight confusion since he doesn't have any memories of the war world, Scott tries to slip into the role he finds himself in until he can work out what's going on. It was established in the earlier books that Scott is special for being able to remember other realities for more than a few minutes. In the past, he eventually slots the new reality memories into his mind but this time the shift is so big (or something) that he spends the entire book not fully remembering everything. And also not undoing it until the very end.
However, new reality Scott does leak through, providing us with some character contrast. Old Scott didn't grow up on rations or during a war, while new Scott did. Old Scott never had to learn to make human sacrifices for the greater good while army-trained new Scott did. Actually that last one is something our Scott picks up worryingly quickly and I can't say I was happy to watch him let people die that he probably could have saved.
Delete is a fast-paced action story and if there wasn't so much going on in it, I'm sure some of the people around Scott would have had more time to worry about his psychological well being — or at least to stop him being so involved in everything. As it is, they weren't even overly concerned about him running around on a gun-shot leg, so I suppose they're all used to putting the war first. I don't want to go into spoilers, but I found the end a little bit frustrating. I don't think it was a bad ending — it resolved everything and lived up to what we've come to expect from the series — but emotionally it was a bit distressing, possibly because of, well, reality whiplash. (Haha.)
Each book in this series has upped the stakes and Delete certainly continues that trend, this time putting the whole world on the line. I'd say that if you liked the first book but didn't think the stakes were high enough, keep reading!
If you enjoy fast-paced action books then I definitely recommend this series. And if you read Shift and Control, then forgot about Delete because of the delayed publication, then definitely pick up a copy of Delete. The re-released covers have been updated but still use the same art as the original set, so they won't even clash much if you bought the first two books from Strange Chemistry. Win! If you haven't read the earlier books but still read this review, I strongly recommend starting at the start of the series. I don't think it would make much sense otherwise.
4 / 5 stars
First published: March 2015, Xist Publishing
Series: Shifter series, book 3 of 3
Format read: eARC
Source: Courtesy of the author