Review: Between

Between (Crossroads Saga #2) by Mary Ting
Release Date ~ January 12, 2012
World Castle Publishing
ISBN13: 9781937593780
E-copy received from author for review

Goodreads Synopsis:
As the alkins head back to Crossroads, Claudia leads her normal life; but not for long. Having a special soul, Claudia attracts danger, and she soon finds out who Gamma asked to watch over her. The Twelve, known as Divine Elders on Earth, are very much involved when they find out that Aliah, one of the God’s first angels, escaped from the Abyss when the gates were opened by Aden. Needing Claudia’s soul to escape the only place Aliah can reside–a place between Heaven and Earth–he sends his demons in search of all Claudia Emersons on Earth. Taking her soul will enable him to be released from Between and cross over to Crossroads, which would give him immense power. As more secrets are revealed Claudia learns about the venators—nephilim, demon hunters. Now two opposing forces must work together in order to save Claudia and humanity from the most dangerous angel ever created. But along the way, trust becomes a big issue. Will love be enough to keep Claudia and Michael together? Who will make the ultimate sacrifice? Who will betray them all?

Mary Ting's YA debut Crossroads was one of the first books I read when I started getting back into reading last year. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, and it was one of the first angel paranormal books I had read; plus, I found the personal touches Mary incorporated in her story charming. So when I found out that there would be a sequel, I was curious to find out what would happen in the series and interested to find out what new information would be revealed.
I was optimistic when I started reading Between, but I found the beginning slow and difficult to get into; but after the first quarter, the pace of the story quickened and the stakes were raised. But I soon realized that there were far too many issues in the book that I was seriously unimpressed with.

  1. A great portrayal of friendships:
    The main thing that really kept me going is that I loved the relationships between the secondary characters, especially David and Vivian, but even Caleb. It is so enjoyable to read about characters who care about each other so much and have such strong relationships with each other. And the affection they feel for Michael and Claudia is evident as well. I LOVE that, and this was the main reason why David and Vivian are my favourite characters.
But that's where it ends for me. Unfortunately, I didn't find Between to be as well put together as Crossroads and found the writing and editing to be lacking. It was especially noticeable in the dialogue- I don't know any teenagers who talk to each other so formally (often using "shall", few contractions, formal vocabulary, etc). And much of the slow pace at the beginning of the story was due to the convoluted, lengthy descriptions of mundane details (such as Claudia's outfit).
Now, I will admit that it's been about a year since I read Crossroads, but I found myself so confused about the issues and difficulties experienced by the characters and how they related, and even their relevance to the story overall. To be honest, I'm still not really clear on WHY love between Michael and Claudia is forbidden - and there were too many plot twists that felt like they were thrown in to the story just to make things more dramatic.
There's one more thing though, and this is what I had a real issue with the book. I'm going to put on my super serious hat for a moment. This is a slight spoiler, but it honestly isn't important to the main plot, so go ahead and read it. Because I think it needs to be addressed; in fact, I chose to continue reading this book even when I contemplated marking it as DNF (did not finish) because I wanted to talk about this issue. I was seriously unimpressed, dismayed, and frustrated with Michael and Claudia (and even Austin) as characters. For varying reasons, but they all come down to one thing: Claudia's role as a love interest and a woman. Please don't disregard this as some silly feminist rant, because I think it's a very important consideration to make. At one point in the book, a guy (neither Austin nor Michael, I should add) forces Claudia to kiss him. He lures her into an empty, dark room and attempts to go even further - the implication I had is that he would go as far as he could get away with. That's sexual assault, plain and simple. And at first, Claudia fights back (bonus points for her!) but what disappointed me was her reaction to the assault - it's entirely brushed off. Claudia is supposed to be such a kind, forgiving girl that she makes excuses for this behaviour and it doesn't bother her in any way that someone would take advantage of her like that.
That's not okay. I had hoped this would be dealt with or resolved, but the only other time it comes up is when she mentions that she's relieved that it won't be "awkward" at school if she runs into this guy. What?! A guy assaults a girl, and she's worried it might be "awkward" since he was beat up? No, just no. That to me, is an irresponsible dismissal of a very serious issue.
Now perhaps my frustration with this event coloured my understanding of later incidents as well. For example, Austin is pretty handy with some mind manipulation that he definitely takes advantage of in his own way. Which, again, isn't dealt with but is supposed to be portrayed as somewhat romantic, I believe. Um, no. That's an invasion to an individual.
Finally, Michael completely irked me. For someone who is supposed to be so sweet and caring (and he often is very thoughtful of Claudia's wants and needs) I can't believe how often he complains about Claudia trying to fend for herself (such as learning defensive moves). He says she's stubborn for trying to fight and defend herself, and is actually ANGRY with her for doing so. That's not sweet- that's controlling and demeaning.
I don't like these gestures, which are quite harmful attitudes, being wrapped up and presented as something sweet and kind. I wish that this had been turned in to an opportunity to raise these questions and deal with these issues, but instead it seemed to be accepted, even praised, in the story. Instead, I would recommend a series like Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness Quartet which deals with these exact issues, even if it is a different genre, because they're handled very well in that story.
I'm aware that this series has its own following, but I was utterly disillusioned with the saga after reading Between. I just can't recommend this one.
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Angkarina said...

Ah, this one was on my wishlist and I'm so glad I didn't buy it O.O"
The summary sounds great, but I guess that's it.

Thanks for the review!

angkarina_angkasuwan at hotmail dot com

Andrea @ Cozy Up said...

Wow, I'm so sorry about your disappointment in this one Brenna. That issue is a big one though, I hate when assault is brushed off so easily in books. Thanks for the review, this is one I will definitely be skipping.

Natalie said...

Is it weird of me that I enjoy bad reviews much more then good ones? I find them so much more entertaining to read! Great explanation of your thoughts on this one! The way the author treated the assault issue definitely sounds pretty awful! Great review! :)

Michele // Just a Lil Lost said...

I was looking forward to reading this review after you mentioned it on twitter yesterday. I haven't read this series, but you have very valid points as to why you didn't like it.
I hate that you/we/anyone has to preface something like that with "It's not a silly feminist rant".. I often feel I need to say it too, and it's a shame that there are people who will "accuse" it of such.

Loved the review!

Christina Kit. said...

Oh no, it's too bad you were so disappointed, and not just because of the story. I know what you mean by some issues not being dealt with in a way that's a good example for everyone. Especially with something as serious as this.

At least you liked the secondary characters, who are often overlooked.

ccfioriole at gmail dot com

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