Friday, October 18, 2013

Review: The In-Between by Barbara Stewart

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

Review: The In-Between by Barbara StewartThe In-Between by Barbara Stewart
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on November 5th 2013
Genres: Psychological Thriller, YA
Source: Raincoast Books
Buy on Amazon

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?

Wow this book was… something. After a near-death experience, Elanor has a new visitor. Someone who becomes her best friend, almost like a sister. But this person is not actually real, is she? Is Elanor mentally unstable? Or is she being haunted? Also, what is happening during her blackouts? This story was so strange at times; definitely a mind-f*ck. Nothing is ever made clear, leaving you to question every single thing – her sanity especially. It’s what I loved most about it, but unfortunately it’s what will make this book a hit or miss for many.

The In-Between, based on the generally low rating from my friends so far, is obviously not a book everyone will enjoy. Its got a fairly slow pace with ambiguous string of events and a lack of concrete answers. There’s a lot of “make of it as you wish” conclusions. However, instead of being irritated by this I was thoroughly fascinated. Mental illness is, in actuality, very hard to diagnose, not to mention constantly questioned by the sick person in many cases. I’m sure you’ve heard of a case where a schizophrenic person refused to take meds with full belief that the doctor was a conspirator and the meds were used to control them. When you’re sick, you don’t get black or white answers. You question you sanity, you question you diagnosis, you wonder if what you’re seeing is real and everyone simply refuses to believe you. Told in the voice of a perturbed teenage girl, this is the uncertainty we journey into inside this novel. I, for one, found this incredibly compelling. Elanor is your perfect unreliable narrator; she unsettled me, and I loved it.

As a narrator, Elanor was brilliantly written as a mentally ill character. Her thoughts felt very disordered, often as convinced of the truth as she was questioning her mental stability. Her story is told through several journals spanning different stages of her post-accident recovery. This allows us to get deep within her thoughts. We know only what she knows, we question everything she questions. Not only is she seeing this sister of hers, she’s also experiencing blackouts, death threats, and other ominous happenings that turn this story into a disturbing thriller.

Now, don’t expect an action-packed, intense read. This book’s pace is kept on the slow end, where we spend much of our time into the psychological side of things. It’s an exploration into the mentally ill… or is it? Those who are big fans of psychological thrillers do need to check out this one!


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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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21 Responses to “Review: The In-Between by Barbara Stewart”

  1. Chel @ The Procrastinator's Corner

    I’m on the fence with this one. I’m a huge fan of unreliable narrators and I would really love to read this. I don’t think I’ve heard of anything like this before, but I’m not really fond of “make it as you wish it conclusions.” I’ll probably go schizophrenic myself if I were presented too many questions without concrete answers.

  2. JennRenee

    I am currently reading this book and I think its amazing. You are absolutley right…. at times no clue what is going on. I love tring to figure it out and coming up with my own theories… I am sure I am wrong with them all though cause I have no clue. It love the way its written, the tone, and the voice. I am loving it. Great review!

  3. kimbacaffeinate

    I love unreliable narrators. That feeling of being on edge and never really sure what to believe. It sounds like the author did an incredible job with Eleanor. Wonderful review Giselle.

  4. Savannah

    I never heard of the book but the cover looks weird. (In a good way) It sounds so good. Psychological books with mental issues always capture me. Nice review.

  5. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    I’m glad to hear you enjoyed this book despite the low rating from your friends, Giselle. It does seem like an absolutely fascinating book and it sounds like the author tackled the mental illness pretty well. I hadn’t heard of this before, but I’ll be looking more into it.
    Lovely review.

  6. Mary @ BookSwarm

    I’m not fabulous with “make it what you will” books — I want concrete, solid answers and endings. So, while this book isn’t for me, it sounds like it definitely worked for you so yay!

  7. Christianna

    I love mind eff books, so this one sounds really interesting to me. It sounds like it could be hit or miss for me, but I like taking a chance on books sometimes. Plus, I tend to like the books that you rank high on this blog! I’ll have to look into this one soon! Thanks for the great review!

  8. Candace

    Books like this are super hard for me to determine if I’ll like them. It’s very hit or miss, like you said. I am super curious though so I’ll definitely watch for it at the library!

  9. Jack

    I absolutely LOVE psychological thrillers, but for some reason I don’t think I’d like this. It sounds a bit boring, and not sure if it’s the most original of novels, but maybe I’m wrong. I’m really glad you enjoyed it! If I see it around, I may pick it up. Lovely review!

  10. michelle A - Novels On The Run

    See when you start off a review with WOW!! I go ooo Giselle with a ‘G’is impressed! I just finished Consequences trilogy. Not sure if you have read it by Aleatha Romig. Psychological Thriller too and WHahhhhhHHHHhhhHH!!! It blew my mind. But you have to read 1-3 to really get the whole picture. Glad you enjoyed this one. I am a bit spent after COnsequences, Truth and Convicted. So I shall wait a bit and get back on the P/T train ;)Mich

  11. Emily

    Haha, would you say this one was something like Another Little Piece? It definitely looks like a mind-(yeah you know)!
    Now that you mentioned it, if I’m looking for a book of … that sort, I’ll be sure to pick this one up! 🙂 I don’t mind a rather slow ride, as long as it has that element!!
    Fantastic review, Giselle! <3

    • Giselle

      Hmm it’s a mind-f*ck like it but Another Little Piece was clearly a paranormal whereas this one you’re never quite sure if she’s insane or really seeing things. I think I liked ALP a little better too.

  12. Nuzaifa @ Say It with Books

    I do enjoy psychological thrillers but I think I’ll pass this one up for now.
    Sounds a little ‘Beautiful Mind-ish’ and that movie left feeling absolutely uncomfortable!

    Great review,Gieslle-Glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

  13. Amy @ Book Loving Mom

    This sounds like a book that I would love!! I really enjoy when you aren’t sure what is going on with a characters mind. I always enjoy a good mind f*^$ so I think I will definitely pick this one up at some point. Great review babe!!

  14. Neyra

    This sounds, to me like the book Insomnia by J.R. Johansson minus the “haunting”. I really enjoyed that one so this one might do it for me to, I have no problem with slow reads if they have a captivating storyline and set of characters. Love your review Giselle!