Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Between the Lives by Jessica Shirvington...

Title- Between the Lives.
Author- Jessica Shirvington.
Publish date- April 22nd 2013.
Publisher- Harper Collins (Australia).



What I thought:
The main word that comes to me when I think about this book, at least the main non-spoilerly word, is "intriguing", and it was a word that fairly well summed up my thoughts on it before I read it and, though in a lesser way, after.
The premise of Between the Lines is, taken right back to basics, this: a girl has lived two lives, one middle class, one wealthy (both in the same city)- ever since she can remember. She doesn't know how to make it stop, which is all she has ever wanted. But when she breaks her arm and it doesn't transfer to the other world she starts to wonder and test the link. Also there's romance. 

I love the idea of someone living two lives and I saw it pitched as her living a "Cinderella existance" somewhere, which really excited me, but it isn't something I would suggest getting your hopes up about because I did not see it (she's not poor in her less wealthy life, just average middle class) and was left waiting for some kind of Cinderella link to appear for the first third of the book.

I had quite a few problems with the characters and never particularly liked any-
Sabine is the protagonist; she is desperate, from the off, to cut away one of her lives and I immediately assumed which one it was and was shocked to see how wrong I was, because her actual choice didn't make any sense.
She doesn't get along well with her parents in her less wealthy life, but she has a really great friend in Capri (who was in the story hardly at all and felt like a character of convienence more than anything, not being built upon and coming in once when Sabine needed help, but really being a pretty vacant piece, which disappointed me) and lives for her little sister, Maddy, and in her wealthy life she has everything she could want, yet never seems happy. She is just doing things, even if she doesn't like them, because she has a reputation to keep (something she repeats on numerous ocassions).
I felt that Sabine was a pretty vapid character and she never clicked with me. I didn't outright dislike her, but she was a little whiney at times and I disliked her harsh, on the spot judgement.

Ethan is essentially the only other main character, apart from Dex who despite being a fundamental character to the storyline never really got much of an explaination and seemed very one dimensional.
 I found Ethan pretty frustrating, too- he and Sabine gradually see each other in a new (and cliche ridden) light, but I found them to be tiresome, full of predictable and potentially swoony and sweet but for me only cringworthy dialouge when they're together, but never really saying anything really important.

I thought the storyline would have much more of an impact on me than it did- for me it was very much a medioca read, easy going for the most part but with a few scenes that just really made me force myself to continue reading, some just because they were eye-roll inducing and some because they were pretty darkly awful (see below).

One of my main problems with the book is a scene where Sabine is "testing" what will travel through the worlds after her arm got broken in one world and was fine in the other. She gets a variaty of sharp utensils and, sitting in her room, begins to cut herself; it was fairly detailed and lasted two or three pages, and I absolutely hated it. Okay, maybe it was the only way of testing the connection, but I wish it didn't last that long, wasn't in such great detail. It really annoyed/unsettled me and I considered stopping there.

I thought the ending was pretty forseeable, for the most part, and I really didn't get anything from it, though I did find myself surprised during a few scenes towards the end, but because I never really connected with the characters or felt like I was truly invested with their stories by that time it didn't feel all that important to me what happened to them.

Despite the things that riled me there were a few things I did really appreciate about the story- I loved the relationship, however brief, between Maddy and Sabine; it was very sweet and felt like one of the real-est things in the book.
I appreciated being able to feel hooked in some of the more intense scenes, where something exciting or terrible or whatnot would happen and then BAM Sabine would switch in to a different life and I had to wait anxiously to find out what would happen. It happened perhaps a few too many times for my liking, but I generally did like this- it made the novel very fast paced and kept me going.

Between the Lives is certainly not what I hoped it would be, is very much a case in which I think it had great potential that, at leats for me, it never quite lived up to; a strange mix of light, easy going reading (clothes shopping, trying on clothes, eating delicious food, wearing pretty dresses, wearing pretty dessses for parties, lots of costume changes) to being dark and the polar opposite (drugs- stealing drugs, hiding drugs, taking drugs- and other harder issues) and yet, despite that massive transition in either world Sabine lived in, I never felt like it was necessary. Sabine chose to do what she did, for the majority, and she could have done things differently and been happy.

Rating: Poor.
Throughout the book I found myself picking up on a lot of little things I didn't like, which made it a difficult read for me; it was fairly easy and not wholly unenjoyable, but I wouldn't re-read it and often wondered if I should persist. In a few words it is Darkly Fluffy.

Thank you to Harper Collins for sending me this review ARC!


  1. OK, so I was going to begin this comment with a "Aw, such a shame" and then I read this: "In a few words it is Darkly Fluffy." and it made me snort in unladylike amusement. I like this category. I like it very much. Excuse me while I collect myself.
    So anyway, aw, such a shame. Everything sounds so frustrating - esepcially the characters, and the light/dark mix - that's a pretty crazy contrast between those lists. And I don't like the sound of the self-injury scene. I'm always wary of authors including that element - I think it's too easy to get it wrong and over/underplay it or glamourise/normalise it.
    I really love your review though, I think you do a fantabulous job at picking out what works for you and what doesn't and why.

    I've read Shirvington's paranormal series - the Violet Eden Chapters (Well, I read the first three books, skipped to the end of the fourth, and finally gave up on the series) and I really didn't like them - although I should probably mention that I seem to be in the minority in that. I should also probably mention that despite the fact I LOATHED the heroine of that series (LOATHED, I say) and found the love triangle deeply irritating and much of the major drama pointless... despite all that, I could not stop reading them. Until the fourth book, when it was finally too much. And from the sounds of it, this one got you hooked too, at least while you were reading it.
    What is it about Shirvington's writing that does that?
    Anyhow, this review has me decided that Shirvington's books and I are just not meant to be. I am fine with that.

    1. It would be so fantastic is bookshops the world over recognised this category. It is an important thing to... be aware of.
      (Thank you so much for that compliment- it really makes me incredibly smiley and just thank you so much!)
      I haven't come across it in my reading that much, actually, and this was certainly the most in depth scene and it was pretty horrible- I didn't feel it was really underplayed, at the time, but thinking back it really is something Sabine does without all that much reaction. She knows what's she's doing, she does it very much as an experiment and it causes her a lot of pain, but it's not addressed as I would have hoped and doesn't really get dealt with in the end.

      It's quite strange, isn't it? We both kept reading despite highly disliking (I didn't quite loathe her, but there was a lot of dislike) the protagonist- it's very strange.
      I think I agree with you on that- unfortunately we won't be meeting again in the future. /:

  2. We did have really different opinions, which is great, no one ever feels exactly the same about a book.

    I thought the same about which world she would choose, too! And I suppose the cutting scene might be triggering to people who do it/have previously done it.

    1. I completely agree- I found it really interesting seeing what you liked about it and whether our likes and dislikes lined up, which they did ocassionally if I remember correctly.

      That was a strange twist, wasn't it? Especially early on when she mentioned which one her mother would want her to choose... it seemed like that wasn't something she was going to be doing. I certainly hope it'll have some kind of Trigger Warning when it's published, though I'm not sure...


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