Between the Lives by Jessica Shirvington
Disclaimer: This review first appeared on my GR profile
**ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**
The thing about pretty outsides is that, more often than not, they cover up the ugly interior. Take, for example, those beautiful girls you used to go to school with. The angel like faces, the golden hair, the long, athletic legs with the bodies you secretly wanted to have yourself. Once you cracked through those beautiful shells, the insides are ugly, nasty and boring.
The same thing applies to books. With their gorgeous covers, they are able to trick you into reading their ugly, nasty, boring insides.
When I was trawling through NetGalley, this cover (look at it, just look at it!) jumped out at me and screamed, "READ ME! Love me! Hold me! I'll be the best damn thing that ever happened to you!" and with its intriguing premise, I didn't think twice about clicking the request button.
And it all went downhill from there.
Sabine has two lives. At midnight every night, she is shot into, what I assume (and I say assume heavily, considering we're never given an explanation for this) an alternate universe. Torn between her Roxbury life and her upper-class, #richwhitegirl Wellesley life, Sabine never understood why or how this happened.
But it's been happening all her life. Just her body, normal and whole as it was, is transported to a different life. Material things can't follow, which was never a problem.
Until, one day, in Roxbury, she breaks her arm. That night, she wakes up in Wellesley... with a very fixed, perfectly working arm.
From there, Sabine designs a series of experiments to carry out on her body. Surely if something so huge didn't transport, then... maybe... she could die in one life and survive in the other?
A sense of mystery works well in some books and if this had been done better, it might have worked here too, but it didn't. In my opinion, if you're writing about something so complicated, the reader should be told how it happens, if not why. I admit, by the time I hit 80% I began to skim read, hoping against all hopes that somehow it was explained somewhere, but it never was, which bugs me.
Let me get to the point: It was boring. SO boring. Terribly, stupidly, braincell-destroying boring. I couldn't get into it and struggled to get to 80% after four days. Sometimes, I would even forget I was reading it. Other times, I would stare at my Kindle in silent desperation, willing it to throw up something more entertaining, something better, anything to keep me awake. Alas, it was not to be. Unfortunately, I have a rule that I don't DNF ARCs because if the publisher put the effort into sending me a copy, then I should put the effort into reading it no matter how awful it turns out to be.
The good thing is that this isn't the worst book I've read this year.
But that's about it.
Although it has an intriguing plot, the lack of explanation, plot and suspense is really quite nerve-destroying. As an avid reader, and one who reads 4-5 books a week, I am appalled to say that this book needs:
a) A better editor. The amount of typos/misspellings/grammatical errors I found was really off putting. Bearing in mind Between the Lives had been previously published in the USA in 2013, and was an ARC because of its pending publication in the UK & Ireland this year, it really has no excuse for being so poorly edited.
b) A plot. This is a serious problem, people. If your book isn't well written, and it doesn't have a plot, what the hell are you writing? The plot, in this book, was completely lost amidst the abundance of insta-love and insta-get-in-my-pants-now. Instead of elaborating on the time travel/life leaping situation, the author decided to shove a lot of obscure sex scenes and hot make out sessions that it could've done without.
c) Trigger warnings. It's not that hard! Stick a little note on the first page that explicitly states that there may be mentions of suicide, self-harm and drug use. Don't let your readers walk in blind!
d) More developed characters. You know those cardboard cut-outs you see in cinemas? I present you the characters in this book. No depth, no emotions and zero emotional attachments.
Considering the way this book ends, it really pissed me off how vain, self-centred, whiny and bitchy the MC was. There are bigger, badder things in the world that people have to deal with every day than having two lives. Hell, Sabine gets four day weekends and 6 month summer holidays! What more could you ask for? Two Christmases, two birthdays, two New Year's, the list is endless! People die every day. Stop moaning so much! I can deal with self centred characters, but enough is enough.
I would recommend you read this book IF:
- You want to be inside an immature 18 year old's head and read her diary.
- You have trouble sleeping at night. Seriously. It'll bore you straight into Snooze Land.
If you're going into this expecting sci-fi, explanations and closure, don't bother. You will be left unsatisfied, annoyed and very, very angry.