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The Between (Changeling's Choice) Paperback – January 5, 2012
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The Between is a moving tale of heroism and compassion. . . Lydia is a young woman utterly unprepared for the world she's about to enter--but she learns fast. She's a character you'll want to meet again, from a writer you'll want to read again.Take good note: LJ Cohen is a new voice to follow.
--Jeffrey A. Carver, author of The Chaos Chronicles
About the Author
LJ Cohen is the writing persona of Lisa Janice Cohen, poet and novelist. Lisa has completed 8 novels, in several genres, including YA, urban fantasy, fantasy, and speculative fiction. Lisa lives outside of Boston with her family and her dogs and is currently finishing TIME AND TITHE, the sequel to THE BETWEEN. THE BETWEEN is her debut novel.
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The basic idea of the story is a kind of golden child portal fiction tale set (mostly) in the already well established land of Faerie, familiar to many readers from fairy tales and other derivative works. A girl who thought she was just a normal high schooler is suddenly pulled into the magical world and find out that she is really a Fae child that has been raised by mortals. So far, pretty cliche setup. And it gets worse when we are told that she it's actually super-powerful, moreso than any other Fae because she is a "trueborn" (genetically pure) Fae which is very rare now that other Fae have lost the ability to reproduce except through humans (some kind of inbreeding problem - dunno, it's never really explained).
So far, it sounds pretty bad. But I hope you haven't stopped reading this yet because it does get better. To be honest, if that was all I knew about it beforehand I never would've bothered to read it. But fortunately I didn't have an annoying reviewer (like me) to go putting such thoughts into my head.
In spite of the unpalatable cliches weighing it down, the author has actually put some independent initiative into the development of the world and the characters in it. Faerie (the land of the Fae) has been cut off from the human world for some time now. So while it is still recognizable as the well-worn Faerie land we have seen before, it feels slightly different. The Fae "culture" has drifted away from what was before. None of this is really explained in the book, but it's there behind the scenes if you stop to think about it.
The main character's "super-magic" abilities are a bit bothersome to me. I would much prefer a tale where she had to work and fight in order to gain the power, instead of just having to get over herself and then boom-there it is. But the psychological aspect of the character is portrayed very well. At first she doesn't believe in magic at all. Then she's attacked, so she has to believe something happened, although it could've been faked - just not sure how. Then she's shown something she absolutely has to believe, but she still doesn't want to, so she tries to rationalize it, fails, and then tries to just not think about it. And so on, until she gradually gets to the point where she can fully embrace her own magical nature. That whole part is well done, and I know I've seen plenty of others do it badly. So it's worth something just for that.
The way magic works in this world is poorly explained. Although the visceral feel of it is fairly well portrayed, we are left mostly to conclude that magic has rules but we don't need to know them. I do get the impression that the author is working from ideas that are worked out but just not included in the text. There seems to be two basic "kinds" of magic, called bright and shadow, which are both really just aspects of the way the Fae have fractured the one kind of real Faerie magic. And then the part that really isn't described at all, there seems to be a third kind of magic that comes more from the human realm and is based on love and memories. Our supergirl seems to be able to access this human magic that the Fae don't even know about, and that may be why she is so much more powerful. The explanation that she is "trueborn" doesn't ring true because presumably Oberon and Titania (the villains, sorta) must also be trueborn, as long as they've been around.
The only completely unique part of this world is the part referred to in the title - "The Between". This is the surreal and very volatile space that you pass through when traveling from Earth to Faerie. It apparently has its own rules and is very distinct. I think the title of the book is probably chosen because the author has put some considerable thought into this space. But it actually plays almost no part in the plot of the book, and so I also think the title was badly chosen. Should have been saved for a later book that actually used the Between space more heavily.
So far I've been mostly critical (but then, isn't that the point of critiquing a book?) - so let's discuss what was good about the book. One very good part was in the characterizations. The characters in the book were all fairly well done. Oberon, the Faerie king, was sorta one-dimensional, but then he's actually pulled out of Shakespeare and I guess it's harder when you're dealing with somebody else's creation. But, for the rest, and especially for the unimportant characters, there was more attention given to making them seem real and rational than what I'm used to seeing recently. And that's a good thing. A very good thing.
Another impressive thing was in the editing. While I did find two errors, I've seen more than that in "classic" books. And the other, less obvious, plotting and presentation of the book was remarkably better than most Indie authors. That shouldn't affect my review in an ideal world, but it's still a good thing and worth mentioning.
Between that time and now, she also brought out Derelict, which I scooped up, read, and loved. After enjoying that story tremendously, I had high expectations for The Between.
And it was an okay story. To be honest, I almost put it down part way through chapter 1. Everything felt too familiar. The character in the story made several references to The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland, aiding in the overly familiar themes. Young girl has an immortal, sullen stalker... Angel from Buffy, anyone? It also had a bit of a Matrix vibe.
And I would have put it down if the end of the chapter hadn't caught my attention. What was going on with the iron key fob? So I continued reading, got to the end of chapter 2, and so on and so forth, eventually getting more invested in the story. There were some great elements in it, but that sense of familiarity never really went away, either.
I found the ending sort of confusing. In a faerie world where pretty much anything goes, I didn't understand what Lydia did, how she did it, or what the long-term ramifications were. It didn't feel closed to me - like there was a chapter missing between the last two.
It was an entertaining read, for the most part, so I still give it 3/5 stars, despite the things I didn't like. But I think I'll give the sequel a pass since I'm not really invested in this book, and wait for the sequel to Derelict (which I'm super excited about!).
Love and powerful magic combine to create a strong hero.
A teenager learns she is Fae when she is pulled into their world. When she finds why, she must decide for herself what to do.
I like the way the heroine is allowed to decide what to do. She is not portrayed as someone weak and indecisive, but as someone who will do what is needed to produce the best results. She does not fall over with each new decision to be made, but does not make perfect decisions every time.
LJ Cohen writes because teens and young adults need books to read. The better those books are, the more they want to read them. This is one of the best. I can honestly say I am thankful for authors like this one, because I really enjoy reading good books.
Do you like fantasy? If you do, combined with Fae and Faerie, this book is for you. Even if you hate Fae, this book might be for you. Like the other books by LJ Cohen, I liked this one and look forward to reading more by this author.
The main character, Lydia, thinks she's an ordinary high school senior facing ordianry challenges--where to go to college, how to get her own car, etc. But it turns out she's a trueborn fae, and she's about to get sucked into the ongoing political power play between Oberon and Titania. Cohen did a fine job of making Lydia sympathetic but not perfect. I really got behind her and her goals of protecting not only herself, but also her family and friends.
It uses some common tropes--portals, the chosen one--but they're used creatively enough that I never got the feeling that this book was a poor imitation of a greater writer's work.
I highly recommend it.
Most recent customer reviews
I found Lydia justifiably petulant.Read more