Genre: Psychological Thriller

Friday, October 18, 2013

Review: The In-Between by Barbara Stewart

Posted by 21 Comments

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!


4 Hot Espressos