Monday, January 28, 2013

[EARLY REVIEW] Between by Kerry Schafer

Title: Between
Author: Kerry Schafer
Genre: Urban fantasy/ High fantasy
Series: The Between #1

Mass Market Paperback, 304 pages

Publication: January 29, 2013 by Ace

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Source: Author

Vivian Maylor can’t sleep. Maybe it’s because she just broke up with her boyfriend and moved to a new town, or it could be the stress of her new job at the hospital. But perhaps it’s because her dreams have started to bleed through into her waking hours.

All of her life Vivian has rejected her mother’s insane ramblings about Dreamworlds for concrete science and fact, until an emergency room patient ranting about dragons spontaneously combusts before her eyes—forcing Viv to consider the idea that her visions of mythical beasts might be real.

And when a chance encounter leads her to a man she knows only from her dreams, Vivian finds herself falling into a world that seems strange and familiar all at once—a world where the line between dream and reality is hard to determine, and hard to control…

Vivian recently broke up with her boyfriend and decided to move to another state to work at Krebston Memorial Hospital. This enables her to start over independently away from her ex and ailing mother. During one of her shift, a young man comes in with an extremely high fever ranting about dragons. The next she know he’s burning from the inside out, Vivian thought she was hallucinating due to the lack of sleep but no, it’s really happening when she’s wide awake. Things get stranger when she meets Zee a bookstore owner, whom she never met before but in her dreams. He gives her a book which turns out to be from her deceased grandfather, and a message instructing her to find a ‘key’.  She eventually find out she’s the last of the dreamshifter, someone who is capable of walking through all three world; Wakeworld, Dreamworld, and the Between.  

Between is a blend of urban fantasy and pure/high fantasy and Schafer takes the concepts of dreams and spins it into a story of her own.  The story has three worlds; Wakeworld (our world/reality), Dreamworld (everyone’s dream), and Between (the exact time/space between the time the person is about to fall asleep or about to wake…conscious/unconscious). This is a really original idea that makes the book standout all on its own, with a very complex world-building with some characters taking on multiple roles (Wakeworld Vs. Between). While I love a book with complex world-building, there were times I couldn’t differentiate which world Vivian was in because she jumped from Wakeworld to Dreamworld and finally to Between where she resided for the majority of the book. In between these jumps there were also flashback scenes from different characters, which added another layer of confusion for me. About halfway through the book I figured out how I could tell which world Vivian was in, when she was in Dreamworld she didn’t have her protection necklace but when she was in Between she would have it (Wakeworld didn’t really matter because she was barely there).

Vivian was a realistic character, when thrust into this so-called Density she acted like any normal person would act…scared and confused. As the story went on she slowly started to accept her fate and while not the kick-butt heroine we usually get in UF novels she went from being meek to standing up for herself. Joining on Vivian’s trip through Dreamworld and Between was Poe the penguin, I honestly don’t know where he came from but I kind of get why he’s there. Vivian's totem animal is a penguin and he’s helping her find the key (I think lol). My favorite character was Zee a.k.a Warlord. He isn’t the typical hero…more like the antihero, and though he doesn’t really know-know Vivian (only from his dreams) he is willing to break the law and fight a giant bear/dragon to protect her. 

Overall a good read, I like Schafer’s unique urban fantasy and can see this series going far with the endless possibilities using dreams and the three connected worlds. This is a good debut novel, but with some minor flaws. I understand this is just the first book in the series but I hope that with the foundation already set in Between that the world-building in the next book will be more clear and organized. Then there was a rape scene in the book concerning the heroine, it wasn’t described in detail but I didn’t see the purpose of it. Then a couple of chapters later again, the same character attempts to rape the heroine again but this time she defended herself before it happened. I wasn’t keen on the rape/violence afflicted upon the heroine; it just made me so didn’t make a difference to the heroine or the story (hence why I took stars off). 

The book tied up nicely, Vivian accomplished the task given to her but there were some questions that were left unanswered (well, questions at least I didn’t know the answer to).  For examples, the key that Vivian had to find unlocks the ‘foverever’, which was never explained nor why it was important to Jehenna’s master plan, why is Zee known as the Warlord and Jared as Chancellor in Between, but Vivian and Jehenna were the same in both worlds (Wakeworld & Between)? Finally, where did Poe the penguin come from?! Regardless of the flaws I mentioned, I am curious to see what happens to Vivian and Zee in the next book. Between is labeled as an urban fantasy but I think it leans more towards the fantasy side. Bottom line this was good book with a few imperfections. I suggest checking out the excerpt or sample chapters before buying it to see if you’re interested. 

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