TITLE: Between The Lives
AUTHOR: Jessica Shirvington
PUBLISHER: Orchard Books
GENRE: Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult, Contemporary
RATING: 4.5/5 Stars
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?
What I Liked:
- I really liked the characters in this book. There was such a mix for me to love or hate! Sabin was a really great heroine, with a cool head and fantastic ability to deal with such a confusing situation, I really admired her. Ethan was a wonderful, appealing character too. His inclusion added a whole new level to the story's plot, and there's a big twist near the end that I saw coming, yet still blew me away emotionally. The people found in both of Sabine's lives each had their own little back-story too that made them interesting.
- The plot itself was really good, especially after things started going downhill in Sabine's Roxbury life. Despite the constant travelling around from place to place, I never once felt confused as to where I was. I was so gripped by and invested in what was going on, that I couldn't believe how quickly the story was over and how much I wanted more! There were plenty of twists and turns that kept me guessing, and none of them felt like they were there for the sake of it.
- Due to the weird nature of Sabine's situation, Shirvington had to deal with some tough issues in this book. Namely identity, freedom, illness and heartbreak. Suicide is frequently mentioned as Sabine's desperate plan to live one life without fear, but it is certainly in no way condoned by the author. I liked that Shirvington let her readers travel with Sabine, being first of all struck by the appeal and glamour of Sabine's Wellsley life, only to later become more attached to her situation in Roxbury. I liked that it wasn't a clear-cut, easy choice.
What I Disliked:
- The pacing at the beginning felt a little too fast. As a reader, I was totally thrown into Sabine's predicament, and before I had time to get my head round it, I was suddenly aware of a rule change in the way it worked. I felt like the 'broken arm' revelation happened a little too fast and I didn't get a complete picture of Sabine's desperation and misery before she found out about a possibility for change. Also, the reason for her constant life-switching was never really explained and that was a tad aggravating.
There were so many aspects of this story that I enjoyed, despite a slightly shaky start. The concept was a really good one, the idea of one girl trying to manage two completely seperate, parallel lives remained wholly original compared to anything I have ever read. The plot was really intriguing too, and kept me wanting more the whole way through. I liked the pacing and development of Ethan and Sabine's relationship, and best of all, the ending was heart-breaking but well-written. There remains a few unanswered questions and part of me wishes for a sequel. However, the way the story concludes does give a very 'blank slate' feel which is almost a happy ending for Sabine. I strongly recommend this read!