Published by Orchard Books
Published on August 7th 2014
Genres: Death, Paranormal, Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Source: Net Galley, Publisher
The perfect life or the perfect love. You choose.
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?
A compelling psychological thriller about a girl who lives two parallel lives - this is Sliding Doors for the YA audience.
The perfect life or the perfect love. You choose.
Between The Lives or One Past Midnight is my first Jessica Shirvington novel, so I was quite excited to dive into the story. Based on the tagline of the book, I was instantly intrigued. Who wouldn’t be interested to find out how the two lives work? It’s not pretending to be another person, but you’re literally being thrown to another life at midnight.
We follow the mundane life of Sabine. Coincidentally, her name is the same in both lives. Every day at midnight, she shifts into her other life. For 17 years, she has lived it every day, knowing full well that material things don’t cross over, but whatever physical changes she has, do. When she turned 18, something strange happened. Sabine feels different.
In Roxbury, she lives with hardworking parents, and a sister, Maddie. She loves Maddie to bits, but she doesn’t have a perfect relationship with her parents, specially with her father. Her parents manage a drugstore, but they are struggling with money. In this life, she’s not the perfect daughter. She is a sort of delinquent, with nothing much going for her.
In Wellesley, her life is somewhat perfect. She has two brothers, Lucas and Ryan, her parents are divorced, but her mother dotes on her. They are wealthy, and she’s quite popular in school. She is in a relationship with Dex, one of the cool boys in her high school. Her future consists of Harvard, and she’s looking forward to graduating soon.
Sabine wants to choose between her two lives, so she conducts experiments to find out if she could leave the other life, and permanently live just the one life she chooses. There was a part in her experiment that made me cringe! She was self-harming, and was hacking her thigh with dull scissors. Did it make you cringe, too? With that in mind, I kept thinking, is she the only one living two lives? Is she living in the same timeline as her other life? Is she a scientific experiment? Do her parents, who manage a drugstore, know about her shifting?
To be honest, it was a slow start for me. I couldn’t fully grasp the book until I reached 20%. I think it was about the same time the character, Ethan, came into the picture in her Roxbury life.
That deep, ocean blue eyes.
Let’s talk about Ethan. He’s such a sweet guy, but he annoyed me at first. He had the I-don’t-care-about-anyone-but-myself attitude when they first met. I think that he is a good influence on Sabine. She was basically planning on ending her life from one of her lives so that she can actually live. But with Ethan in the picture, it made it harder for her to choose.
Ethan taught her the meaning of life, and that she needs to think things through before she does something drastic. I was actually rooting for them, because Sabine’s relationship with Dex in Wellesley is not as perfect as it seems. And clearly, Sabine doesn’t really want to be with him. (She counts every second of their kiss, which she couldn’t stand.) So anyway, I had this feeling that Ethan was hiding a secret, (and I wanted the secret to be that he also shifts, but it was something else.) and I was a bit wary of his character, but at the same time, I liked how it wasn’t instant love between the two. There was a build-up in the romance, and I really loved that they didn’t like each other right off the bat.
It was really hard for Sabine to live two lives without having anyone to talk to about it. What she wanted was someone to believe her, that she’s not crazy. And she found it in Ethan.
You said you wanted someone to know you. Maybe I just want to have someone to know me too. Without you in this world, the memories of every moment we’ve shared together will be gone. We only exist because others see us. Part of my existence…’ he swallowed, ‘…an important part, only exists because you are here to see it.
There were so many convenient coincidences, too, specially during the time when Ethan was testing Sabine. Like, hmm, I need to translate this Finnish phrase. Oi, the receptionist is Finnish! And I also encountered an inconsistency, which I let slide. There were twists in the book that kind of surprised me, but the major freaking twist was the ending.
I found the ending bordering on cheesy. I kind of predicted it, but I was hoping that I was wrong. Now, I’m not saying that it was a bad ending, but it basically made me ask more questions about the plot of the book. Like, if the same person can exist in both lives,*cough* Ethan *cough*, then there’s this whole possibility that Sabine is actually TWO persons! It seriously wrecked my theory.
I was discussing the ending with Aimee of Deadly Darlings. I asked her if she was bothered that Sabine’s shifting into another life wasn’t explained at all, and she said she was a bit bothered, but she let it slide. I really wanted the paranormal or scientific explanation of her shifting. If I had my way, I would have preferred that it ended with Sabine being locked up somewhere with schizophrenia. That would have given me the explanation of shifting during midnight, and living an alternate life. And I’d give this book a 5.
Overall, it was a good read. But I really wanted answers. Still, if you take away the paranormal element in the book, I’d say it’s something that you’d enjoy reading on a rainy Sunday afternoon. #
ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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