Title: Between the Spark and the Burn
Series: Between, #2
Author: April Genevieve Tucholke
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Publisher: Dial Books
Release Date: August 14th, 2014
Length: 320 pages | 7 hours, 24 minutes
Source: Borrowed from my local library
Freddie once told me that the Devil created all the fear in the world.
But then, the Devil once told me that it’s easier to forgive someone for scaring you than for making you cry. The problem with River West Redding was that he’d done both to me.
The crooked-smiling liar River West Redding, who drove into Violet’s life one summer day and shook her world to pieces, is gone. Violet and Neely, River’s other brother, are left to worry—until they catch a two a.m. radio program about strange events in a distant mountain town. They take off in search of River but are always a step behind, finding instead frenzied towns, witch hunts, and a wind-whipped island with the thrum of something strange and dangerous just under the surface. It isn’t long before Violet begins to wonder if Neely, the one Redding brother she thought trustworthy, has been hiding a secret of his own.
I remember loving the first book, for the gothic atmosphere, the interesting presence of a long-dead character (not as a ghost, but as an influence on the atmosphere and the main character), and the fact that the romantic interest was a bit of a sociopath. It was a unique set of elements that offered no easy storytelling ‘out’. But it’s also been YEARS since I read the first book, so the shine has worn off.
This one felt like a pretty different beast entirely. The setting is a road trip, so right away the gothic air was gone. There were some eerie, horror elements, but nothing as striking as I’d hoped for. The past plays perhaps an even bigger role in this book, but it also felt more disconnected. I appreciated that it turns out Freddie is not a good person, at all, in terms of that being unique (we like to think of loving grandmothers as infallible creatures). But her influence on the current storyline didn’t seem very necessary.
Also, and this may just be because of my age, it bothered me that these kids were so unrealistic. I probably found that charming in the first book, but this time around I kept thinking “they drink too much coffee, they hardly ever sleep, they cuddle naked without having sex, none of the food they pack on this trip ever goes bad, they have some terrible instincts, and they’re horrid to one another……why do I care?” Luke and Sunshine are still pointless, and mean. River is still a liar and a villain, even though Violet is still attracted to him and pines about “last summer”, which was apparently three months ago but always referred to as “last summer”. Neely is the only decent character in the entire book, but even he isn’t very interesting.
So overall, I was underwhelmed. And I have the sneaking suspicion that if I read the first book again, I’d be underwhelmed by it, too. The writing is a bit purple, which can be enjoyable as a poetic experience, but the characters, the tension, and the mystery fell flat for me.