Saturday, 11 January 2014

Review: Between the Lives by Jessica Shirvington

I picked up Between the Lives a little while ago, after finding it on the discount pile at Kmart. I do not know if other Kmarts do this, or if it is just my local, but sometimes if a book has been sitting on their shelves for a certain amount of time, they mark the price down. If it remains on the shelf, they mark the price down again. And again and again, until you can (sometimes) find a new paperback for a just a couple of dollars. Over the years, I have picked up some very good books this way--The Bride Stripped Bare by Nikki Gemmel is one example--and there has been the odd dud. The author of Between the Lives has also already made a bit of a name for herself as the author of a YA paranormal series. So when I saw this book marked down, I thought that I would give it a chance. I won't say that I was disappointed, as the story was interesting enough, though the ending was a bit unsatisfactory. 

Sabrine is a young woman with a very interesting problem. She is living two lives. Every twenty-four hours Sabrine shifts from one life to the other and must live the same day over again, as a different person. She dreads the shifts, resents the fact that she is the only person in the world who must live like this and wishes that she could choose just one life. In each life she is known as Sabrine, and she looks basically the same, but each life is also quite the opposite of the other. In her life in Wellesley, Sabrine comes from a wealthy family, has two older brothers that she hates and a bright future ahead, though her boyfriend is a bit of a dud. In her life in Roxbury, Sabrine's future is starting to look very dim, though she is able to find true love with Ethan, a fellow patient at the clinic where she is an inmate. From there, what we see is a love story, where Sabrine feels forced to choose between the perfect life or the perfect love. 

In many ways, Between the Lives feels like a purely by the numbers YA romance with a bit of a paranormal twist. There are the usual themes of fitting in and first loves. Exciting if you're, I don't know ... fourteen. I found the supposedly emotional parts of the novel a bit ... well, about as flat as Sabrine's personality to be honest. I never got a real sense of who she was. 

The main strength of the novel is also its greatest irritation. The fact that while in Roxbury, Sabrine is placed under medical care and is thought to be suffering delusions after she starts cutting herself and taking drugs as an 'experiment' and then begins to tell her family about her life in Wellsey, coupled with the fact that both lives are in contrast with one another, offers us a pretty big hint as to what is going on. So too does the fact that Ethan turns up in Sabrine's Wellsey life shortly after he passes away. Wellsey, it would seem, is a product of Sabrine's delusions. But the author never really makes that clear, or tells us that yes, both lives are real. As a reader, I was left wondering and that just made me annoyed, rather than making me ponder all the different possibilities ...

Anyway, this book is entertaining enough, though the ending falls a little flat.