Having just finished this book in the past few hours, I can honestly say that my first overall impression is just. . .wow.
Honestly, I didn't want to read this book. It's been sitting in the bottom of my bag for about a week now, and I've been reading the TrueBlood books instead out of sheer procrastination. Well, Southern Vampire Mysteries. Same difference. But I left my Kindle at work last night and couldn't get it until recently, and I can't go that long without reading, so I started Between after all. I'm kind of glad I forgot my Kindle, now.
Between doesn't sound like my type of book, going by the summary on the back. The summary on the back makes this book sound like a typical murder mystery with the main suspect trying to prove her innocence, just with a YA setting. Being as I rarely like murder mysteries, I honestly would not have touched this book, based on that back cover. If I hadn't gotten this ARC from BEA, I probably would never have ended up reading Between at all, because I wouldn't have had a reason to look at it. That being said, Between is not your typical murder mystery, and the main character, Liz, is most assuredly not the suspect. In fact, she's the victim.
Between is the story of Elizabeth Valchar, who, shortly after waking up from the drug and drink induced coma she and her six close friends fell into after her birthday party, finds her own corpse floating bloated and pale in the water outside her father's boat. The only person who can see her is Alex Berg, a boy who died the year before Liz and who seems to hate her from the moment they start talking. After her death, Liz can't remember everything about her life, and instead has to slowly remember, one memory at a time, to figure out how she died and who killed her. But when she isn't remembering her life, Liz is observing those she left behind. Being an invisible spectator in the lives of her loved ones means the process of remembering and learning, though, is a lot harsher than Liz expected.
As I said, I originally didn't want to read Between. The back cover summary doesn't really touch on what the book is about, besides saying that someone dies and Liz has to figure out what happened. But I'm really glad I decided to read it anyway, because it's a lot better than the summary makes it out to be.
Between has one of the types of plots that I always find hard to put down. I couldn't seem to resist reading just a few more pages, another chapter, to find out what happened to Liz, and what would happen next. I loved speculating as I read, guessing at what I thought had happened only to have those speculations completely crushed or come true. The plot constantly twisted and turned, changing the reader's idea of what's going on in the story at the same time Liz's life view is changed by what she learns. I don't usually say this, but Between really is one of those page turning books that I couldn't put down until I'd finished, because I just had to know.
A lot of dark themes are touched upon in this book, though, and that means that I wouldn't suggest Between to younger readers or to anybody who just wants something light and fluffy to read before bed. Jealousy, eating disorders, murder, and cruelty are only a few of the themes that can be found within these pages. However, Between isn't just some tacky cesspool of a book designed to throw any and every bad thing at the main character as possible, like some other books I've read. (*Cough*Precious*Cough*) Between is also a book about love that's true and lasts, forgiveness, and acceptance.
I could probably sit here and think of half a dozen reasons why Between is a good book, but the simple fact is that I just really liked it. I liked the characters and the plot and the twists and just everything. The only thing I didn't like was the summary on the back of the book!
If you like books that represent an idea of the afterlife, you'll probably like this book. If you like darker YA books, this is something you should look into. And if you liked The Lovely Bones, this is definitely a book you should pick up when it comes out August, 2011.