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White Space: Book One of The Dark Passages Hardcover – February 11, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—One of the marks of a classic horror story is the slow and insidious shifting of the rules within the tale's universe. Bick understands the power of this trope and uses it relentlessly in this sophisticated horror novel for older teens. A brilliant five-year-old watches her novelist father call horrors from a powerful mirror. A high school junior with static-filled gaps in her memory pens a horror tale, one that had already been written decades ago. A psychically gifted girl accepts a ride from a troubled but sweet boy. A marine and his younger brother head out on snowmobiles after accidentally killing their abusive father. Fleeing their separate nightmares, the cast assembles in a fog-bound, snow-filled valley from which there seems to be no escape. Lovecraft-inspired monsters inflict gruesome deaths and time and space are unreliable in this mind-bending narrative. Slowly, it's revealed that no one is quite who they thought they were, and the boundaries of this universe are definitely falling apart. Continuous references to fictional time and space travelers (The Matrix's Neo, A Wrinkle in Time's Meg Murray) add intricacy, leading characters to wonder if they themselves are made up. Bick is a master of the genre, balancing tension, terror, and tedium through repetition and fractured storytelling. White Space is filled with echoes of other horror stories, but the author manages to hold on to her own narrative voice, playing on readers' expectations through a series of reveals, some just predictable enough to inspire a false sense of security. The first of a series, it also can stand alone.—Katya Schapiro, Brooklyn Public Library
It’s an interesting premise: Emma Lindsayhas been called into Professor Kramer’s office to face his charge of plagiarism. She has written a short story virtually identical to portions of deceased author Frank McDermott’s unfinished novel, Satan’s Skin. Yet she has never seen the novel, which is stowed away in Edinburgh. How could she copy a portion of a novel she didn’t know existed? Is this yet another blink—a lapse in Emma’s daily routine that takes her into other realities, a possible side effect of the plates in her skull? With allusions to The Matrix, The Bell Jar, and The Shining, to name a few, Bick forces readers to face a complex question: Are Emma and others in the story simply characters in one or more books who somehow got trapped together in the white spaces between pages? Or are they real people? This is hardly an easy read. Bick pushes readers, moving between story lines and points of view with little uniting the disparate threads except Emma herself. With incessant violence and gore, this series starter is for the most hard-core connoisseurs of horror or world-shifting fiction. Grades 9-12. --Frances Bradburn
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Top Customer Reviews
Characters appear out of nowhere and one must constantly try to glean (from little to no information) what they are doing in the story. In similar books, if the writing is sufficiently compelling or the narrative begins, at some point, to become a story, the reader may choose to continue reading and hope that matters clear up. In this instance, there was lots of running around but little clarity even at the conclusion. I found much of the characters' activity, as in the gratuitously drawn out and ultimately pointless to-and-fro of the characters at the accident scene, to be simply boring. I struggled to keep reading as they dug themselves out of snow drifts and wandered around, trying to figure out (as I was) what was happening and why. The occasional foray into teenage romantic angst signified nothing but the writer's probable realization that her readers may have become tired at being led round in circles.
Although the author references various classics in this genre in an apparent attempt to suggest that her book belongs on the same shelf, the writing has no resonance and is merely competent. Although I wouldn't argue about what made-up category it belongs in, my husband places such books into the "Some Stuff Happened" category.
In the White Space (I am having an inside joke, with this pun :D), the construct is primarily of multiverses. It stands on the assumption that every idea, every imagination is thought-magic and springs forth a new Now, a world that is as real as any. So you see how it toys with your mind - any event in the book could be real or could be just a story, but real in another world. Hmmm...I can't explain this right. Basically, it echoes slightly of Jodi Picoult's Between the Lines but on a much more intense and twisted scale. There are characters within the book who live lives that feel real to them - as real as our lives feel to us. To reach them, one has to go through the Dark Passages, and for that, one needs the needed tools - one of which is the Dickens Mirror. Writers/creators can pull the characters onto the White Space, that is, where their stories exist. There is Emma - who can see glimpses of another litle girl's life, Lizzie - the daughter of a writer who created stories through the White Space, Eric and Casey - two brothers with an abusive dad, Bode and Cade - soldiers from the Vietnam war, Rima, a psychometric teen with the ability to soothe ghosts. All of these characters brought together onto a snowy mountain (winter is a kind of a theme with Bick's books?) and what continues is an adventure of nightmarish quality. They go through so much horror, each of their demons brought forth in a world where imagination is infinite and creation happens with a thought. It is gory and dark, intense and awful, I will warn this beforehand and scary as hell. It is like every bad dream come to life and makes you question reality. I was taking notes till about half the book just to keep track of all the developments, and there were plenty of them. Even though the book is dark and scary, it totally sucked me in (I don't really go for horror) and I kept coming back even though a little repulsed from the horror.
The beginning of the book plunges you directly into the storyline, no explanations whatsover and after a few initial minutes of what-the-heck, things get intriguing. The narrative keeps shifting perspectives and right at the most crucial moment, which means you are given mulitple cliffhangers throughout the book. It can make you go insane with the I-gots-to-know but in each POV, things are gettig more and more scary and everything just builds up to the point near the climax. The ending, whoa, hit like a wrecking ball (okay, okay, sorry for that) and as much as it was confusing and cryptic, it was also way too exhilirating. God, I want to really know what the deal is with Kramer! Right till the last line, I was going crazy with speculation - is he what I think he is? What will happen to Emma? What is going on? Why, Bick, why would you torture us so? It is almost cruel how the characters are each having such terrible pasts and perhaps that was necessary since the whole book is nowhere near the realm of sunshine and rainbows. There is also a tense moment of created-meets-creator, which makes you wonder how would a writer feel if they would meet a character they kill off or something like that. The book delves repeatedly into the ideas of perception, and the basis of realness. The world-builiding was elaborate, because it linked different book-worlds and I was really impressed by the way it was all explained - it was ingenious how Bick mixed in all that physics into thought-magic. Thoroughly enjoyed this book, even though it left me a little exhausted and a teensy bit horrified.
Audiobook provided for review by Audible.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
It was kind of like watching Inception or the Matrix the first time, and having no clue what was happening until BAM!Read more