Author: Kerry Schafer
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: The Between (Book 1)
Publication Date: January 29, 2013
Format: Paperback, 304 Pages
ISBN-10: 042526114X (Ace/Penguin)
ISBN-13: 978-0425261149 (Ace/Penguin)
Reviewed by: Anjelica
Vivian Maylor can’t sleep. Maybe it’s because she just broke up with her boyfriend and moved to a new town, or it could be the stress of her new job at the hospital. But perhaps it’s because her dreams have started to bleed through into her waking hours.
All of her life Vivian has rejected her mother’s insane ramblings about Dreamworlds for concrete science and fact, until an emergency room patient ranting about dragons spontaneously combusts before her eyes—forcing Viv to consider the idea that her visions of mythical beasts might be real.
And when a chance encounter leads her to a man she knows only from her dreams, Vivian finds herself falling into a world that seems strange and familiar all at once—a world where the line between dream and reality is hard to determine, and hard to control…
Quick & Dirty: Vivian knows dreams have no place in the Wakeworld, and when people start showing up dead Vivian is forced to step into a world she was once confident didn’t even exist.
Opening Sentence: Later, she will remember him so: impatient with the waiting, restless feet carrying him back and forth in the grassy place in front of the fountain.
Chaos and confusion. Those are the two feelings that totally dominated me the entire time I read this novel. Whenever a character is trying to discover some secret part of themselves, I expect to feel a little bit of confusion with them as they try to sort things out. In this book though, I felt more of that than ever before. I’m finding it a little hard to explain that while I enjoyed following the story, I didn’t enjoy the way I felt while I was reading.
Vivian started out as a very stressed out, over worked doctor who was also dealing with the added worry of moving her semi-psychotic mother to a nursing home. Add to all of that a healthy dose of insomnia born from the sheer fear of what could happen when she falls asleep and a bad break up with a controlling boyfriend, and I’m quite surprised Vivian was able to function at all. That stress translated so well that I actually felt fidgety while I was reading; something I can’t say I exactly enjoyed. A few times, I even had to stop reading because Vivian’s unease and constantly jumping thoughts, enveloped me in a way that made focusing impossible.
My reading breaks never lasted long, however, because the plot honestly had me hooked. There were a lot of questions: why did one of Vivian’s patients come to the hospital with a burn that only intensified with treatment until his skin finally just peeled off his body? Why is Vivian afraid to go to sleep? Is her mom really crazy or is there something more to her story? The questions just keep piling higher and higher as new characters are introduced. Jared, the controlling ex-boyfriend, Zee, the handsome and mysterious bookstore owner, and Jehenna, a suspicious woman who reveals her true power to Zee but merely poses as a junior partner at a law firm for Vivian.
Jared and Zee pose the most frustrating questions of all. As Vivian discovers her role in the war happening in what we learn to be called Dreamworld, it appears that there is a Dreamworld version of Zee named Warlord and a version of Jared named Gareth. Neither Dreamworld version of the men appear to know Vivian at first, BUT my big question comes as I read on, it seemed that both Gareth and Warlord had many of the same characteristics and even memories of their Wakeworld counterparts. Of course, I considered the fact that maybe it was just one of those things where there are separate versions of the same people in different dimensions, but certain events make me think that Jared doesn’t exist and was really only Gareth. That thought was blown away when Warlord and Zee appear in the same place. Which lends the question, why are there two of Zee and Jared but not of Vivian, her mother or Jehenna?
Basically, what I’m getting at is that there aren’t enough explanations which some people really enjoy, but I do not. I found there to be quite a few random scenes that didn’t seem to affect the overall plot in any way, they didn’t even develop the characters at all. Those few scenes just seemed to be something Schafer really wanted to write.
Something else I found distracting was the overuse of the “F-bomb”. Now, I’m certainly not a stranger to this word, and I don’t have anything against reading it in a book. However, this novel is littered with it in places that a less intense and yet still effective curse word could have been substituted. This obviously won’t deter many readers, but personally I felt it was a bit distracting.
All in all, I would say I liked reading this book, and maybe in reading it again I’ll find the answers to some of my questions. As first impressions go, however, “Between” doesn’t really impress me.
Power surged through Vivian from the rock at her back. Voices filled her head. The rage in her belly flared, burning, heating her blood. Her skin began to itch and stretch.
Smells bourgeoned into color. Mellisande appeared with breathtaking clarity- every scale a prism, emmiting a vibration not felt before. In the distance, Vivian perceived other systems of light, other beings of wings and light and fire. Each of them responding to this new awakening of power. Each of them altering their path to fly towards her.
The Between Series:
FTC Advisory: Ace/Penguin provided me with a copy of Between. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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