Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Review: Between the Lives by Jessica Shirvington

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I received this book for free from Hachette Children's Books UK in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Between the Lives by Jessica ShirvingtonBetween the Lives by Jessica Shirvington
Published by Orchard Books on August 7th 2014 (UK)
Genres: Sci-Fi, YA
Source: Hachette Children's Books UK
Buy on Amazon

The perfect life or the perfect love. You choose.

For as long as she can remember, Sabine has lived two lives. Every 24 hours she shifts to her 'other' life - a life where she is exactly the same, but absolutely everything else is different: different family, different friends, different social expectations. In one life she has a sister, in the other she does not. In one life she's a straight-A student with the perfect boyfriend, in the other she's considered a reckless delinquent. Nothing about her situation has ever changed, until the day when she discovers a glitch: the arm she breaks in one life is perfectly fine in the other.

With this new knowledge, Sabine begins a series of increasingly risky experiments that bring her dangerously close to the life she's always wanted. But if she can only have one life, which is the one she'll choose?

A compelling psychological thriller about a girl who lives two parallel lives - this is Sliding Doors for the YA audience.

Thought provoking and compelling, Between the Lives is a story about a girl with two lives. One is seemingly perfect, but the other has him…

At first this novel reminded me quite a bit of Lucid by Adrienne Stoltz and Ron Bass which I loved, but it ended up standing on its own. While Lucid was more about the mystery, this one is more about big choices and love and life. Often throughout this book I would stop and think about what I would do if I had two lives. Imagine the possibilities! Being able to basically get an extra 24 hours every day to be a different person, yet the same. I just loved this idea, although I could also understand her wanting to give one up, to be able to fully live in one life instead of having to live a lie twice.

The double life aspect is built with fantastic attention to detail – though it isn’t at all difficult to understand like some sci-fi novels can be. It just has many layers to avoid plot holes or endless questions. Like, what happens with injuries and memories and how both worlds work in terms of each other (if she goes to her “other” home, or tries to find people from the other life, for instance). I also loved how different she was in each life. In one, she seems to have it all. A wealthy family, a future at Harvard, tons of friends, popularity, and the perfect relationship – on the outside (I don’t get why she stayed with him if he made her so queasy – I know that he’s a constant to her but bleh). In the other, she’s kind of a delinquent with nothing much going for her in comparison. But then she meets Ethan just when she decides she’s done with this life. Sabine is an 18 year old girl, and teenage girl priorities she has. Her outlook on life is superficial and she can be selfish at times. She may not be the most likeable protagonist, but she’s certainly realistically constructed.

While in one life the romance makes you kind of uneasy, in the other, we’ve got a wonderful love interest: Ethan who is full of charm and larger-than-life questions. I loved how he gave her a reason to stay, but he didn’t make it about himself. He made her think of her double-life as a gift instead of a curse. He also comes with baggage of his own that gives the book some emotional depth as well as a sense of realism that you don’t always find in YA romance. Other than romance we have family and parental presence which I appreciated, but what I enjoyed most was the sibling relationships in both lives. One is a young sister who’s adorable, the other is the older brother with whom she finally forms a bond. With a smaller role but just as well developed, her friend Capri bring a lot of life to the book and quickly became a favourite of mine.

Romance, family, life, and second chances; Between the Lives is a wonderfully crafted contemporary story with a sci-fi twist. I would recommend it to those who like stories with a meaning.


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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25 Responses to “Review: Between the Lives by Jessica Shirvington”

  1. Kelsey

    This sounds pretty good actually, I kind of want to see what kinds of choices she makes now. I have added it to my wishlist 🙂

  2. Amanda @ Book Badger

    I actually have this book and have been nervy about trying it, but now? Now I think it’s going to be one I jump into pretty quickly, man, why have I been putting it off?! I’m excited thanks to your review hunny, so thank you! 🙂

  3. Savannah

    I had no idea that she released another book. I’m still got to finish her other series which I’m in love with. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Kyra @ The Review List

    Oh good, you liked it too! I thought the story was amazing and didn’t really notice too many flaws in her character, she really was just your usual teenage girl, just with some added abilities. I’ve linked my review if you wanted to take a look 🙂

  5. Haley @ YA-Aholic

    Ah yay SO glad to hear this turned out so good!! I have this for review on my kindle and I cannot wait to get to it now!! Who doesn’t love a story with a meaning? Great review hun! ((:

  6. jazmen

    I really like Jessica Shirvington so I’m glad this one went over well. I actually have the book so I’m even more excited to read it!

  7. P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

    Story with meaning? Sign me up! I’m super interested to see what kind of choice she makes, and I haven’t read too many stories about double lives. Sounds like a great read, thanks for the review!

  8. Meredith

    I have been seeing this novel floating around lately in the blogging world. It seems like it has an interesting twist on it. Awesome review!

  9. Cait @ Notebook Sisters

    I’ve heard so many good things about Jessica Shirvington…I even saw one of her books at the library the other day, but my TBR is so. darn. tall at the moment, I resisted borrowing it. I WILL CHANGE THAT ONE DAY SOON THOUGH. I like the mix of contemporary and sci-fi elements, so this is definitely on the tbr. 😉

  10. Rashika

    I completely agree with everything you said but to be honest, what killed the book for me was the ending. I was loving it up till that point and then I was just sad. It wasn’t just the sadness though. I don’t know how to explain it without spoiling so I won’t but yeah. .-.

    Gorgeous review, Giselle and I am really glad you enjoyed this! 🙂

    • Giselle


      Haha yeah I know what you mean! I had a feeling something like that would happen though. It was kind of bittersweet to me. She met him in one life so that he could show her that she was living with a gift, not a curse – that life was precious. So it’s like they needed to meet in one life so that she could accept her ability as a good thing, and then meet again in her other life to live HEA (that’s what I think anyways :P) And also since he believed her in one life, she can prob make him believe her in the other and live a full, happy life without having to lie to him about herself, you know. I liked that it was an ending with a lot of possibilities and hope 🙂

  11. Alex from Electrifying Reviews

    This one does sound really interesting! I enjoyed Embrace by Jessica Shirvington, but haven’t heard that much about Between the Lives/One Past Midnight. What I have read about this book (including this review) has got me really intrigued, however. As always, great review!

  12. Michelle

    This is such a beautiful book, and it really does sound like one, too! I’ve read the first book in the Violet Eden Chronicles, and it wasn’t the best paranormal read, so I kind of stayed away from this author’s books. But since this is a sci-fi read that deals with parallel lives and universes, I’m definitely in. You should try Erica O’Rourke’s Dissonance, it’s the best book that I’ve read that was released this year!

    • Giselle

      Ooh I have Dissonance on my TBR list and it’s coming up soon! I’ve heard great things about it so far I can’t wait! 😀

      I also wasn’t a big fan of her angel series but more bc of the angel aspect which has always been a hit or miss for me, and also I didn’t like the love triangle (that’s about all I remember lol).

  13. Hafsah

    That is a very interesting cover! And I’m glad to see you enjoyed the book! I’m curious about that uneasy romance in one of her lives though. I really enjoyed what I read of the Violet Eden Chronicles, and I’m excited to read this one by Shirvington. Great review, Giselle!

  14. Jessica @ Rabid Reads

    Jessica Shirvington is one of those authors that I haven’t managed to read yet, but am extremely intrigued by. So intrigued that when I saw that book cover, and didn’t recognize it, I was like, “Ooohhh?? She has ANOTHER book coming out?” and immediately clicked the Goodreads link. Which is a good thing, b/c I’m actually supposed to read this book, LOL. My version has a different cover AND different title though. So, I didn’t read your review yet, b/c I’m trying that as a new thing to see if it helps my reading experience, but I’m encouraged by your rating 😉 I’ll be sure to come back once I’ve finished it myself, I promise!

  15. Pili

    Hmmm, this reminds me a little bit about Pivot Point, although the set up and the how’s and why’s is completely different.
    Sounds like a quite interesting read, and it might end up being my first Jessica Shirvington book, cause I still haven’t read anything by her!
    Great review, Giselle!

  16. Preethi

    Usually I don’t go for the emotional books and stick to paranormal romances and high fantasy, but you make this book sound intriguing. Like Pili said, it actually does sound a bit like Pivot Point, but at the same time it’s so different. I may have to give this book a try now just to figure out if it’s something I’d like or not XD Thanks for writing the wonderful review!