Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke
Book One of the Between duology
Publication Date: August 15, 2013
Rating: 5 stars
Source: ARC borrowed from a friend
Summary (from Goodreads):
You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand…
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.
Blending faded decadence and the thrilling dread of gothic horror, April Genevieve Tucholke weaves a dreamy, twisting contemporary romance, as gorgeously told as it is terrifying—a debut to watch.
What I Liked:
I'm always terrified of writing a review for a book that I absolutely love and that is a new favorite because I know for a fact that I will not do this book justice. And I know that I will probably ramble a lot and say a lot of things and possibly too many things. And run the risk of spoiling things. But, here I go!
You all know that this book is my most anticipated debut of 2013, right? Heck, it's my most anticipated novel of 2013 in general (debut or not)! I've been dying to read this one since October 14, 2012, when YABC revealed the cover. I wasn't a blogger back then, but I was in AGONY, because I wanted to get an ARC. But as a reader and only a reader, I knew I would have to wait the almost-a-year wait for this book.
Well, I've been a blogger for seven months and I quickly realized that I still wasn't going to get any ARCs from Penguin for a while. And that's okay. But one lovely and amazing blogger (I won't name her, but she knows who she is) who has an amazing and very popular blog, took pity on me and mailed me her ARC.
What do I say about a book that I've been dying to read, and that I love so much? This book has met my very high expectations and standards, and then some. I almost cried when I finished this book, because I wanted so badly to love this book - and I did. The story, the characters, the feel of the book, the romance, the writing style.. everything was so, so perfect.
The story of this book isn't easy to describe, because there is more than one thing happening at once, making the plot complex yet very intriguing. Everything starts with River coming to live in Violet's guesthouse. Violet and her twin brother Luke live alone in the house, because their grandmother died, and their parents are still touring Europe. So, Violet decides to rent the guesthouse, and River appears and accepts the offer.
Strange things start to happen after River arrives. Little kids run around, talking about hunting the Devil. A man kills himself unknowingly. A girl disappears in a large, old, abandoned house. Things just don't make sense. And Violet feels herself drawn to River. She is unable to stay away from him and his hypnotizing touch. Little does she know that her touch fuels him.
This story is so much more complex than it seems! There is something else going on - Violet keeps looking for Freddie's (her grandmother) letters from when Freddie was younger. When she finds them, there is information there that Violet never knew. Something that ties Violet and Luke to a little boy, and a now-dead man.
The characters were so well-described and developed. Violet is the female protagonist, and the story is told from her perspective in first person. Violet is strange, but not in a weird way, if that makes sense. She cares a lot about her best friends, Sunshine, who only seems to care about Violet's brother, Luke. Violet loves Luke, though he acts like a rude, sexist, pain in the butt jerk of a brother. She cares about Jack, a boy that comes to live with her and Luke. But most of all, she truly cares about River, the boy that lies to her almost every time he opens his mouth.
I love how Ms. Tucholke portrays River. River is definitely my favorite character of the book, and not because he is the love interest. He is a complex and strange character himself. He lies about everything - to Violet, to Luke, to anyone. He doesn't tell Violet about who he really is. He doesn't tell Violet about his difficult past. When he does tell her about his ability, he tells her that hurting people doesn't really matter to him, and Violet thinks he is damaged.
River is not what I was expecting. In fact, none of the characters are what I was expecting. All of them have a small-town, old-time feel to them - as does the entire story. This book is written in a contemporary world, but the way the story is set up, it feels like the story is in a different, older time. Maybe it's just the small-town feel, or the spooky old house feel, or the Gothic feel. Whatever it is, I love it.
The romance is not what one would usually expect in Young Adult books. It's not a romance in which the love interests have to fight to be with one another. It's not a forbidden romance (not really). There is no love triangle. But, it's probably the most beautiful romance I've read in a while, and I'm sure why I think that! It doesn't FEEL like there is chemistry, even though readers know it's there between Violet and River. River almost never stops touching Violet, but readers are more intent on figuring out why, and what he is, and why he is touching her, versus thinking about the romantic side of him touching her. The romance sort of slips in quietly, and by the end of the book, it's obvious that River truly cares about Violet, and Violet truly cares about River, physical attraction aside.
The writing style - oh, the writing style. Possibly one of my favorites aspects of this book is the way Ms. Tucholke writes it. Her style is so beautiful and dream-like and unreal - I don't know how to describe it! It totally adds to the small-town, old-time, Gothic feel of the book. Ms. Tucholke's writing style is half of the reason why I love this book, because she twists the story together so beautifully. I was seriously so impressed by how well this debut author wrote - not that I expected her writing to be terrible or anything. I knew that when the synopsis and the early readers said something about gorgeous writing style, it would be amazing, but people. Ms. Tucholke's writing is... beyond words.
The climax is something that I did NOT see coming. Ms. Tucholke is kind of like a spider - she weaves a web around us and lulls us to sleep... and then BAM! She throws in the climax and a crazy character and things that we as readers do not see coming. I'm usually pretty astute with plots and characters and endings, but I didn't see any of that coming! All this time, everyone blamed River for everything, because what other reason could there be? Find out when you read this book...
Because I didn't see the climax coming, I guess I didn't really see the ending coming. Before I saw the climax coming, I honestly had no idea how Ms. Tucholke would insert a climax and ending into this book, but everything was just flowing along magically. But I understand why this book ended the way it did. It is a bit of a sad ending, BUT, I can say that while it seems sad, Ms. Tucholke has a way of writing the ending so that you don't think it's sad, necessarily. I know that makes no sense, but I feel like with any other book and any other writing style, I would have been ridiculously heartbroken, because of the ending. Instead, I'm all like, bring on the next book!
And there IS one more book to this duology, so yay for that! I'm so happy that this book is part of a duology and not a trilogy, because it would be really sad to see this book end like that (if it were a standalone), and I'm kind of tired of trilogies right now. So, I can't wait to read Between the Spark and Burn!
What I Did Not Like:
The fact that this book ended, and that I will have to wait a year to read the next one are two things that I dislike. Sigh!
Would I Recommend It:
My most anticipated novel of 2013 didn't disappoint - in fact, it was even better than I imagined!
5 stars, and believe me when I say that I would give it more than 5 stars, if possible!
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