Thursday, December 19, 2013

Review: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea - April Genevieve Tucholke

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke
Series: Between #1
Genre: YA, paranormal, romance, thriller
Published on August 15, 2013
Published by Dial
Pages: 360
Read From: 11.29.13 - 11.30.13

Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White's sleepy seaside town. . . .until River West comes along. 
River rents the guesthouse behind Violet's crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard. Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more? Violet's grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery. . . .who makes you want to kiss back. Violet's already so knee-deep in love, she can't see straight. And that's just how River likes it.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? I must admit that the cover is what first caught my attention. It's dark and moody and there's a big cliff in the background . . . Which is a pretty good metaphor for this whole story: you're conscious of this impending fall, but it never comes.

Characters: I liked Violet's classiness - her appreciation for antiques and literature and the fine arts. But for a girl who was so well-read, she wasn't very cautious about strangers, especially strangers as creepy and screaming "red flag" as River West. As the story progressed, Violet became so nonsensical and and displayed such a complete lack of common sense that I ceased to care about her as a protagonist. I didn't necessarily dislike her, but she definitely got what she asked for. The other characters, meanwhile, weren't much better. Violet's brother was a jerk, her friend was a slut, and River and Neely . . . Well, they were entirely creepy. I didn't trust River and Neely was just too obviously a potential second love interest. I liked Gianni - he seemed nice and steady tempered. But he wasn't in it enough and I got frustrated with Violet for constantly brushing him aside.

The Romance: Ah, yes, the romance. Well, it was annoying, to say the least. Quite reminiscent of Twilight, in fact. I will not go so far as to say that Violet is as bad as Bella, but she came close. Here we have a young man that shows up with a wad of cash in his pocket, no real reason to be where he is, and who so obviously lies about his background every time Violet asks him something. Oh yes, and he requests that Violet snuggle with him on the couch about two days after they meet. Red flag, people! Violet later finds out just how much River has truly lied about his background, and she also discovers that he may in fact be responsible for the massacre of an entire town, as well as the apparent suicide of a local person and the bizarre behavior of the local kids after a girl is kidnapped. And yet Violet still hangs around River and even falls in love with him (well, in lust, at any rate). Many of the aspects of the initial storyline actually kept the romance from being too overwhelming. But once it became apparent that the romance would be the storyline, things got pretty annoying.

Plot: Violet's rich parents are traveling in Europe one fine summer, as usual, leaving her and her brother alone in the massive and ancient house that once belonged to Violet's grandmother. While the family is related to one of the many great families of old name on the East Coast, Violet's parents don't have much money, and she's required to rent out the guesthouse on the estate. Enter River West. A rich young man with an unknown past and a tendency to make Violet all fluttery in the gut with his easy charm and ability to relate so thoroughly to her. But with River West's arrival comes bizarre events. When a young girl goes missing, the local kids claim that the Devil took her away, and that he would be back for more of them. Is River West connected? The reason I don't lay this book flat is because the plot did initially keep me reading. I suspected that it wouldn't be as dark and creepy as it implied, so I hadn't set myself up for disappointment. But until the romance became the focal point, I was desperately curious to see what would happen next - and to find out if the Devil really was responsible - or if it was something else. So kudos to the Author for stringing her Readers along! Unfortunately, about halfway through Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, it becomes very evident that this was nothing more than a romance.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: First person, past tense. I did really like the Gothic novel feel of the whole story - I only wish it had stayed that way. There's no real complaint about the style itself. It worked for the book and wasn't necessarily bad.

Content: 14 s-words, 3 f-words. Content is more sensual than sexual, though it just walks the line between the two. There's lots of cuddling and barely managing to keep one's trousers on, and it is implied at one point that River and Violet do it.

Conclusion: Surprisingly, the climax was a bit exciting. I guessed the twist early on, but it was still made for a bit of an intense ending. And a little ridiculous. I can't say too much without giving things away, but it did yet again feel like Twilight. I didn't have especially high hopes for this book when I picked it up. I suspected it would probably be a waste of my time, but I was willing to give it a try. The style and the initial premise kept me reading, but the romance was aggravating and in the end, the story really didn't deliver. I didn't like any of the characters except Gianni, and I really wanted to smack some sense into Violet.

Recommended Audience: Girl-read, eighteen-and-up, fans of Twilight and like-minded books.

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