This review does not contain spoilers! Please keep them out of the comments as well.
Title: The Girl In Between
Author: Laekan Zea Kemp
There are some clear formatting issues from the first page. As this author is self-published, I’m giving her a pass; however, she’s placed a number of books on Amazon, and this one is meant to be her free hook, so I’d be curious as to whether she put extra effort into this one or not. If not – I suspect the rest have overlap issues to the point of being unreadable in places.
There’s a known trope of waking up in YA novels. Agents have written about it. Others disagree, pointing to debated ‘exceptions.’ I’m generally of the throat clearing mindset. That being, if it’s just something to warm up before getting to the meat, don’t use it. If, however, it has a purpose in and of itself (e.g. tone setting), you do you.
Kemp’s entire story forms around a sleeping disease, so I moved on with bigger concerns like why the prolonged sleep wasn’t causing bed sores, repeat hospitalizations, feeding ports, or muscular atrophy. Some of those were touched on – bed sores. Others were completely ignored in favor of less physically defining brush offs. I assumed, at first, I missed a suggestion that the sleeping disease also altered the muscle freezing found in deep REM. Or maybe she had major therapeutic intervention to avoid the atrophy each time that the narrator never mentioned even though the narrator mentions her mother’s struggles to even prevent bed sores. Instead, we find out the narrator simply loses weight during her sleeping. Again – no food port? Our only solution is a vague platitude that she can still eat and “function” but only so much as to not need the above interventions – which aren’t mentioned.
Side note – people comb coma patient’s hair all the time. It’s completely possible. If her paranormal disease allowed her to struggle against her mother clipping her nails, what about bathroom? Does she have a colostomy bag? Or should we just assume she can make it to the bathroom and “function” there as well as the obvious inconsistent eating she does while unconsciously conscious?
I love fantasy of all types, but I don’t suspend my disbelief when authors attempt to support their reality defying aspects with science. If you’re going to tiptoe around medicine or any science, I’m going to judge the holes.
On the more believable end – a teen with a life-threatening, chronic syndrome doesn’t tell her doctors peculiarities which likely could have assisted with her treatment. But then she does. It’s a strange – doctors don’t know / flashback to her telling her doctor. At worst, it’s a continuity error. At best, it’s muddled dialogue.
The entire manuscript flows like a meandering stream. You get somewhere eventually, and there’s a misleading depth to it, but I think it could have easily have been made into a contemporary along the lines of John Green’s work without losing anything at all. Ultimately, that would have been more honest with its pacing.
All in all – not a horrible book but definitely not a series I’d continue. It’s free at the moment, so it’s not really a problem to check out, and the writing has its moments despite continuity issues, repeated lines, erratic pacing, and unsound medical care. On the plus side, the cover’s pretty.