Between Review

Monday, October 10, 2011

Title: Between
Author: Jessica Warman
Publisher: Walker & Co
Publish Date: August 2, 2011
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 464
Source: Publisher

Elizabeth Valchar--pretty, popular, and rich--wakes up the morning after her eighteenth birthday on the yacht where she'd been celebrating with her closest friends. A persistent thumping noise has roused her. When she goes to investigate, she finds her own drowned body is hitting the side of the boat. Liz is dead.

She has no memory of what happened to her, and can only observe in horror the fallout of her death. She's also soon joined by Alex Berg, a quiet boy from her high school who was killed by a hit-and-run driver. The two keep each other company, floating in and out of memories and trying to piece together the details of what happened to each of them.
Liz was perfect in life. She had the looks, the friends and the money to buy popularity and keep it. Beneath the surface though, Liz was more than just a pretty face. Born to a mother plagued by anorexia, Liz learned from an early age that eating equals control, and when her life spun out of control, she controlled her eating habits. On the morning of her 18th birthday, Liz wakes up to see her body floating in the water, but she has no recollection of what's happened. As she wanders the "between," she meets a fellow classmate, Alex, and together they begin to unravel the mysteries of their deaths. But Liz was wasting away in life, biding her time to the inevitable conclusion of her life...what was destroying her?

Between is one of those books that you probably see at the bookstore but pass over for the big-name book you've been coveting for a while. It's daunting in size and, frankly, despite the gorgeous cover, Between doesn't necessarily pop from looks alone. It's unfortunate though because Between is a breathtaking and haunting story about love, truth and the ability to live with oneself at all costs. Jessica Warman is no stranger to issue-driven books. With Between, she's crafted a story that chronicles a teenage girl's life spinning out of control as we, the reader, are helpless but to watch as her life falls to pieces. Gripping and emotional, Between captures your attention from page one through the tragic and troubling conclusion.

From page one, Between is well-written. We're given a snobby, conceited MC that we somehow have to relate to and feel for, but we're challenged throughout. Despite the fact that we want to feel for Liz, we want to know why she has become the way she is, as well. Her story is a downward spiral of darkness that spins and twists throughout, leading us into a darker maze of lies and lack of control, which is compounded upon by the great supporting cast of secondary characters, including Alex, Richie, Josie and Caroline. The dynamic of Liz's relationships in life directly impacts Liz's relationship with Alex in death, which is a strength in Between, showing us character growth and potential. The writing of Between is also well-executed. At times rich and descriptive, we're painted a picture of a girl that's lost in her own life and death. At other times, Between is sparse and puritan, giving us nothing but the clean, essential facts. The two writing styles play off one another to provide depth and intrigue. I will say that the anorexia story, although extremely well-done in Between, was difficult to read. The emotions that anorexics feel and the painstaking details about control and lack thereof are difficult to read and hard to swallow. As one who is, and will always be, in recovery from an eating disorder, Between can be triggering and painful. That said, while it's painful to read, it was executed well and provides a shadowed layer to an already riveting novel.

Between was a beautiful book that crosses genres, giving us the best of contemporary, love and ghost stories in one fast-paced read. The adult themes of drugs and eating disorders should, however, be known when approaching this book. I give it a 4.5 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to fans of YA and adult books, especially those who enjoy mysteries, contemporary fiction and ghost stories.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

23 comments:

  1. Great review! I'd been unsure about this book, but now I'll definitely be picking it up. It sounds like a thought-provoking read.

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  2. I definitely would have passed this by. Thanks for the recommendation. Well written eating disorder books are always difficult because they feel so familiar and are triggering, but it's comforting to read your own experience through a character's eyes and know that you're not alone.

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  3. I love how you described the way the two different styles play off each other to create the depth and intrigue that this emotionally charge story contains. I remember how difficult it was for me to get through Wintergirls and Between sounds like it would be emotional packed too. A very insightful review.

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  4. I loved this book - definitely one of my 2011 favourites! I flew through it as it's such a page turner - and I enjoyed it so much as I went and ordered Breathless by the same author for my e-reader straight away. Hope this one is just as good!

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  5. Beautiful review Melissa, this one sounds rich and complex and honestly, just like you said, I've been passing it over in my TBR stack for some other books. I think now I'll need to go back and pick it up:)

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  6. Great review. I didn't think I would love this one and I'm not sure why I thought that. But quess I was wrong, because it really sounds great. I'm going to add it to my tbrlist. :)

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  7. I just started reading this one last night, and I'm definitely intrigued! Thanks for sharing your review.

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  8. I completely agree! I loved how well Between handled the issues, and how it gradually made an unlikable protagonist lovable. Great review, Melissa! :)

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  9. Ok, yes I would like to read it but at the same time, she is dead! That is just sad and I am sure I would not like the end

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  10. I had no idea that this one tackled contemporary issues. I just thought it was a straight up ghost/mystery. Your review made me reconsider picking this one up and adding it to my tbr pile. Thanks for the recommendation, Melissa!

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  11. Wow, great review. This book is going on my TBB list.

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  12. It's so hard when a main character is supposed to be snobby and conceited but we're still supposed to like her. It takes some serious writing skill to pull that off and totally makes me want to read this book. You're right, though. The cover doesn't pop -- I don't know if my students would choose it over another, which is sad.

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  13. Great Review of what must have been an emotional book for you to tackle. And yep, that's a lot of pages of emotion, but done right, it doesn't matter. Sounds like I'll be adding this one to my list. Thanks for the recommend.

    Heather

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  14. This is a book I have had my eye one. The cover is catchy. Thanks for the review. I really like how this book is emotional and tackles certain issues.

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  15. Sounds like such a powerful read! That premise has me hooked.

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  16. GREAT review! I've almost bought this book SO many times, but for some reason the back of the book blurbs didn't seem to match the cover (I must not have paid attention well because I didn't realize she died, which the title and the cover seem to imply and I always thought the back of the book went against that.) I'm going to buy this next time I'm at the bookstore

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  17. I've thought this one sounded really good but I've seen some mixed reviews and haven't worried about rushing out to get my hands on it, but since you liked it so well I'm going to add it to my WL so I can be sure to read it in the future, I'm definitely excited to do so now!

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  18. I had read an advanced copy of this and thought it has such a great opening hook. Thanks for the review!

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  19. I didn't know this was a ghost story! I might pick it up from the bookstore then. Great review. I really like the sound of this book...both spooky and harrowing at the same time.

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  20. I'm definitely going to check my libraries YA section to see if they have this. It sounds amazing.

    Fabulous review, Melissa! :)

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  21. Hmm, wasn't aware this one was a ghost story, I just fell in love with it because of the gorgeous cover.  Sounds like the story inside is really fascinating, too.

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