I was tempted not to write a review for this book, simply because I didn't know how I felt about it, even now after finishing it. Sure, I liked it, but I didn't know whether or not I liked it enough. The sypnosis pretty much sets the book up in terms of what to expect.
Pretty and popular Liz Valchar wakes up on the night of her 18th birthday to hear a thudding noise against the boat she and her friends have been partying on. It turns out to be her body that's creating the noise - and Liz is dead. So what happened? This is what Liz needs to work out before moving on to the other side, with the help of resident ghost Alex Berg, who has been floating around town since his own death months before.
What makes this book not just another Before I Fall prototype is Warman's writing. She has this easing sense of being able to portray a story without revealing too much but at the same time letting the story unfold at a steady pace. She's really able to grasp her characters and force their personalities out. While the story plays out somewhat like a Greek tragedy - there are clues throughout the whole book that adds to the whodunnit mystery - everything remains interesting and after you've pieced the jigsaw puzzle together before Liz does, you don't feel frustrated at why she just doesn't get it, but more intrigued on how things are going to play out next.
For all that is good in this book, the rest is disappointing. The ending doesn't leave you with anything, it just finishes. I closed the book and thought to myself, "Right. What's next on the reading list?" I had no thoughts or emotions whatsoever after finishing this. You keep waiting for something exciting to happen, but after the mystery plays out. I haven't read Before I Fall yet - coincidentally it's on my list next to read - but from what I've gathered so far, there's a lot of self-redemption that goes on in Lauren Oliver's debut. Here, in Between however, it's literally just a case of let's find out who done the crime and then I can move on peacefully.
What is really a let down in this book is that it is not a book where you can easily relate to the characters, albeit maybe one or two. Unless of course, you are spoilt, rich, popular and hiding a deep, dark and dirty secret. Liz and her friends are incredibly shallow and really don't care about anyone apart from themselves. If this were a book about self-redemption, than the fact that Liz is, pardon my french, a complete bitch, then it would be okay. But it's not, so you can't help but not feel any sympathy for her and her current ghostly situation. Liz's choices as well are incredibly hard to accept. Drink driving, for one of them. Liz's choices - and those of the people around her, like her boyfriend and her step-sister, leave a lot to be desired. Sympathy is supposed to be given to Liz in the fact that her mother died when she was young from anorexia, and her father was possibly having an affair with her now step-mother. Yet you can't seem to feel anything for somebody who follows down that same path as her mother. I'm sorry, I've just got nothing.
The sad thing is, these characters seem to regret nothing about the decisions they make in life, especially the months before and after Liz's death. It's really hard to like a book but not the people in it, and I've only ever felt this way about a book before when it comes to the Bronte sisters (exception of Anne there, I've not read anything of hers yet!).
Jessica Warman's talent for writing is really what sets this book apart, and it is such a shame that the rest of the book is such a let down. While I enjoyed reading Between, it's not something that I would give a straight off recommendation to.show more