The Girl In Between by Laekan Zea Kemp
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Girl In Between (Series Book 1)by Laekan Zea Kemp
I can't claim to be a great fan of some series that include certain elements and this one could easily fall into that category. On the other hand I have to admit that the cover intrigued me; though it did almost put me off, because I rarely read horror fiction and this had that feel to it. As usual I read the sample, which was quite adequate this time and I recommend that anyone taking an interest in this series read the sample. For this reader the sample nailed it for me because of the good crisp writing style and the excellent character development. I've read a few paranormal fictions and this one might fall within that category as well as horror and the first book definitely has less elements of horror, though as the series progresses it seems to dip further and further into a dark sense that's tainted with horrific elements. In reading the sample I think that the thing to keep in mind is that the writing style and pace remain the same, which means that if you get easily hooked by the first book then you'll most likely enjoy the first three books and like the rest of us you'll be impatiently waiting for the Forth and possibly final book of the series. Still I must add the warning that this goes on my growing list of books that I love and hate at the same time and that is mostly tied with the Cliff-hanger-ish-ness of the endings.
With that in mind my suggestion for anyone hooked by the sample would be to buy the three as though they were one very long book. Since there is little value in buying the bundled version, which is the same price as all three books separately, I'd go with the three separate because that dispels some of the reality that as one piece they are a huge and perhaps epic volume. As separate novels it at least fosters the illusion of reasonable size. Because book one and two are clearly cliffhangers I have a hard time resolving them down to individual pieces. Honestly speaking the third novel also is cliff-ish in nature, but it has a specific unique flavor to it that would allow it to exist as an ending that allows the reader a wide range of personal thought about the whole.
To get to the story about Bryn: I have to admit that I had some reservations about the main character making use of a debilitating disease such as KLS, Klein-Levin Syndrome, as a main plot point although it does bring to mind Elizabeth Moon's The Speed of Dark in, which she has a main character who suffers autism and that was handled quite well. Both books tend to be about how the main character fights just for some small bit of normality in their life. The main difference might be that in this story it becomes clear that there might be something more going on with the main character and that it might not be KLS at all.
The story starts during one of Bryn's episodes where she sleeps for long periods of time. As it opens she's in her dream world alone as usual, but this time something, someone washes onto the beach and into her dream. A boy who has nearly drown ;and she brings him back to the brink of life just before she returns to her real life. This is the beginning of the most unusual part of book one with the mystery boy in her dreams who has no name or memories and for all intent and purpose could easily just be one more figment of her strange dreams. The dreams themselves are something that falls just outside the lines of the usual symptoms of the syndrome, but there is no mistaking that Bryn often falls to sleep for periods longer than a few days and is likely suffering something that has symptoms similar to KLS.
Book one is mostly the story of Bryn and her family as they struggle to create a normal life for Bryn. Bryn is a teen in her final year of high school and is hoping to go to college. But with the episodes still occurring and the possibility that they could be with her well into her thirties, things are looking bleak. All she wants is to be normal and to lessen the burden on her family. It is not until late into book one that the boy in the dreams and the nature of the dreams begin to become a catalyst driving the story toward the darker and more horrific elements to show up in the next book. Still without the horror there is something compelling about the authors handling of the story that drove this reader on through to the end. And though the ending is not quite complete I felt compelled to continue with reading into book two.
Book one is a good, well written, YA fantasy that addresses some of the issues of the debilitating disease and how it affects not just the patient but the whole family that surround her. It's also a novel that this reader had to pay particular attention to the many details because it was too easy to lose the way and have to check back to unravel some of my own confusion.
Though I managed to finish all three novels in one and a half days of reading over the weekend, it may take most readers a bit longer than that; but as I mentioned, if you're hooked by the sample then the rest of the writing should keep you hooked right through to the end of the third book.
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