'Between' isn't actually released in the US until August and October over here but I thought I'd review it now whilst it's fresh in my mind. Perhaps once I've been blogging longer I might have the foresight to make notes as I read but at the moment I'm just winging it!
'Between' arrived with a plain blue cover with hardly any blurb and comparisons to 'Before I Fall' and 'The Lovely Bones' (both books I really enjoyed), so expectations were high. At over 400 pages in paperback 'Between' is something of a beast and pacing-wise it's a bit uneven. I don't think I'm spoiling anything to say that the book starts with a bang as at the end of the first chapter Elizabeth discovers she has died, but after this initial revelation the book spends the first 100 pages dragging its feet until picking up again around the 150 mark.
My initial problem was with the character of Elizabeth Valchar herself. She's the typical mean girl those of us exposed to American teen books and movies know so well, a spoilt brat who thinks the world owes her a favour. She's similar to the protagonist in 'Before I Fall' in her selfish popularity but rather predictably she starts to grow as a person as she learns a few life lessons.
To begin with the aspects I've outlined above felt too familiar and left me frustrated, however as Elizabeth became accustomed to her existence as a spirit and began to remember more of her life before things became intriguing. Crafting the idea that after death Elizabeth and her companion Alex's memories of their lives are hazy was a clever turn as the reader fits the pieces together at the same pace as the characters do.
'Between' is a difficult book to discuss without giving away surprises the plot hinges upon but I really enjoyed seeing Elizabeth develop beyond a spoilt stereotype into a traumatised girl who spends much of her time feeling lost. The love story element referred to in the press release also took me by surprise and doesn't follow the usual path of the anguished paranormal love story.
By the end once all of the pieces were firmly in place I felt quite touched by Elizabeth's sad story and was really glad I'd persevered through the difficult beginning to get to the heart of the story beneath. 'Between' is a different take on the life beyond death theme and has shown me there is breath left in the telling of paranormal stories.
Rating: 4 out of 5