November 16, 2013

Book Review: The In-Between by Barbara Stewart

The In-Between

Author: Barbara Stewart
Genre: YA Paranormal/Thriller
Release Date: November 5, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Source: Paperback from Publisher


When Elanor’s near-death experience opens a door to a world inhabited by bold, beautiful Madeline, she finds her life quickly spiraling out of control

Fourteen-year-old Elanor Moss has always been an outcast who fails at everything she tries—she's even got the fine, white scars to prove it. Moving was supposed to be a chance at a fresh start, a way to leave behind all the pain and ugliness of her old life. But, when a terrible car accident changes her life forever, her near-death experience opens a door to a world inhabited by Madeline Torus . . . Madeline is everything Elanor isn’t: beautiful, bold, brave. She is exactly what Elanor has always wanted in a best friend and more—their connection runs deeper than friendship. But Madeline is not like other girls, and Elanor has to keep her new friend a secret or risk being labeled “crazy.” Soon, though, even Elanor starts to doubt her own sanity. Madeline is her entire life, and that life is drastically spinning out of control. Elanor knows what happens when your best friend becomes your worst enemy. But what happens when your worst enemy is yourself?

With her debut novel, The In-Between, Barbara Stewart presents a bold new voice in teen fiction.

The In-Between is a creepy and mind-bending young adult debut novel. It follows main character Elanor "Ellie" Moss as she and her parents set out for a fresh start in a new state. On the way there, Ellie and her parents are in a terrible car accident. When Ellie wakes, she learns that her father survived the wreck but her mother did not. Ellie and her father move into the new house and try to move on with their lives, with Ellie's father growing more and more despondant and Ellie growing lonelier and sadder every day. That is, until Madeline shows up one day at Ellie's house. Madeline is everything that Ellie wants to be - thin, beautiful, outgoing, brave. She can't understand why someone like Madeline would want to be friends with a girl like her. But Madeline understands Ellie better than anyone else in the world and Ellie feels like she has been completed. Things begin to turn even stranger when Ellie wakes again to another life - one where her mother survived the crash and her father did not. She remembers bits of her life while she was "in-between" - her life with her dad, things that happened at their house, and Madeline. Ellie tries to remember more about the mysterious girl from this other place and eventually Madeline comes back to her. Ellie begins to experience strange happenings and occurrences, which makes her doubt her own sanity as well as Madeline's intent. Is she really crazy like everyone thinks? Or is Madeline right about the two of them and their unusual connection?

This book is a hard one for me to review. It was really different and unique - like nothing I've ever read before. I didn't know what to expect and I was kind of confused the majority of the time. It was hard to tell what was real and what wasn't - what was true and what was imagined. I suppose that was part of the author's plan for the book, in which case it was executed with great precision. The plot was truly original and mind bending - a blend of paranormal, contemporary, and thriller all at once. The relationship between Ellie and Madeline is fascinating and really intriguing - I really loved how the author took it somewhere unexpected. The ending blew my mind - Madeline's plan and the events that take place - it all fit perfectly with the rest of the book. The characters were well written and had great personalities with distinct flaws and strengths, which helped them to be realistic and accessible to me as a reader. The author used vivid details and descriptions to really engage the reader and bring them into Ellie's world and mind - so much so that it was hard to get back out after the book was over. There's so much to this story - some makes sense, some doesn't until after you've finished, and some continue to puzzle me long after finishing. I know this review sounds really vague and confusing, but I don't want to have any spoilers or ruin anything for readers. Overall, this was an exceptional debut and an author you'll definitely want to be watching. Definitely recommended for fans of strange and creepy thrillers along with paranormal fiction.

*A big thanks to St. Martin's Griffin for sending me a copy for review!*



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