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Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff

The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff
Fantasy/Paranormal, 352 pages
Expected publication: November 15th 2011 from Razorbill
Everything is made of steel, even the flowers. How can you love anything in a place like this?

Daphne is the half-demon, half-fallen angel daughter of Lucifer and Lilith. Life for her is an endless expanse of time, until her brother Obie is kidnapped - and Daphne realizes she may be partially responsible. Determined to find him, Daphne travels from her home in Pandemonium to the vast streets of Earth, where everything is colder and more terrifying. With the help of the human boy she believes was the last person to see her brother alive, Daphne glimpses into his dreams, discovering clues to Obie's whereabouts. As she delves deeper into her demonic powers, she must navigate the jealousies and alliances of the violent archangels who stand in her way. But she also discovers, unexpectedly, what it means to love and be human in a world where human is the hardest thing to be.

This second novel by rising star Brenna Yovanoff is a story of identity, discovery, and a troubled love between two people struggling to find their place both in our world and theirs.

Brenna Yovanoff is quickly becoming one of those authors whose books I will buy without even knowing what they are about.  In just two books (The Replacement and now The Space Between), she's convinced me of her skill and understanding and finesse as a writer and made me trust that, whatever she's writing about, I will want to read it.  I was a little fearful of the dreaded "sophomore slump" with The Space Between, and clearly there was no need for me to worry.

As she did with Mackie in The Replacement, Brenna captured Daphne's "otherness" in a really interesting, authentic way.  It was never over the top, but it was always clear that she was not quite human.  So many people write garbage where the MC is supposed to be Other, but is really only in name.  Daphne feels Other and seems Other, but still remains relatable.  But what's really interesting about her is that she is 'Other' from both sides - she refuses to be like her demon "sisters" but she certainly isn't human, either.  She processes things differently, reacts differently, is always enough of an odd duck to feel authentically demonic in origin, but as the story goes on, she sort of becomes more human.  She thaws out a bit, lets slip her demonic reserve and shows some passion.  More than relatable, she's likable.

Truman has a fair amount of Otherness about him, too, but it is in the very human, relatable way that we all sometimes feel like we don't belong or there's nowhere to turn.  What is most appealing about him is the struggle and the small sparks of hope that begin to come through.  I think what it comes down to is that Brenna understands show don't tell - or show AND tell - and she understands that the emotion and the core desires have to be real, both for the audience and the characters.  Daphne and Truman make such great main characters because the reader can see his/herself in both, and can feel for them and pull for a happy ending, no matter how unlikely it may seem.  For all of the characters, human and non alike, I loved the struggle, the almost-humanness, the sadness and the overall message of love, even from those who have no hope of it, or want it more than anything.  I said in my review of The Replacement that I don't really find the book itself scary, but that "It's more that it can be so unsettlingly real and human in the best and worst ways that it gets under your skin. And that can be scary."  I think this is true of The Space Between as well.

[Note, this is not to say that both books don't have their scary elements and scary moments.  Where The Replacement had The Lady and The Cutter - one of my all-time favorite villains - The Space Between has Azrael and Dark Dreadful.  There is definitely some scariness and twistedness, and it is delicious.]

I think once you've got a solid connection to the characters, everything else in a story can be nearly incidental.  There are plenty of times we read a story and love it purely for the characters, even though there is nothing out of the ordinary in the plot or worldbuilding.  Fortunately, Brenna doesn't slack when it comes to these things either.  Her Hell and its inhabitants were really interesting and visual.   I really liked the transition from Daphne's home in Hell to Truman's here on Earth, and the way the two came together.  The use of religion and history, and the mythology that Yovanoff builds is absolutely perfect for the story, fully realized and interesting.  And where some people do the whole gritty urban thing for shock value, Brenna's reads much more authentic and just a matter of course, in a sad way.  It's an extension of her characters and their minds, and it worked brilliantly from that aspect. There is an icy realness to her writing, and a heartbreaking truth, always.  Like she just reaches into the heart of things and lays them bare.  There's no cloying sentimentality, no pandering for emotion.  Her books are real and raw and lovingly executed, and that's why they always end up on my list of faves.

One thing, too, that was pleasantly surprising was the dual narration.  I am not always a fan of multi-narrators because I think the story can seem disjointed or muddled.  But getting both Daphne's and Truman's perspectives actually really worked and added dimension to the story.  And there's this ominous feeling that comes from the "countdown" on Truman's chapters - each of Truman's chapters is headed with X-amount of days/hours, but the reader never knows what the countdown is counting down to until it happens... It was like having a steadily ticking clock in the background that you know is about to erupt in an alarm, and you don't know what the alarm is for, or when it will go off.  It made it a bit unsettling and provided such wonderful tension.  I actually felt anxious; I was so terrified of what was going to happen and then when it did -- I said at the time that Brenna ripped my heart out, waited a few beats, and then put it back in.  I can't say any more than that, but man!  She had a tight fist on my emotions, I'll give her that.

So. If I haven't convinced you that you need to read this by now, I'm not sure what I can say that will convince you.
Oh, other than the fact that I'm giving away a copy... ;P

[If you're reading this after Nov. 5, 2011 - TOO LATE!]

[Thanks to Alexis for letting me borrow this!]

Oh, and um... I made a bookmark for this!  It has metal flowers! =D

Click here to be taken to the Helluva Halloween Main Page!


  1. I'm really glad to read that the dual narrator worked for you in this novel I didn't actually know it was told from two POVs but I generally like books better that are. I think you hit it just right when you talk about Yovanoff's ability to capture "otherness" in a unique and relatable way. Can't wait for this one! Thanks for the awesome review!

  2. I'm not generally a big fan of demons, but I must say your review is rather convincing! The way you describe it makes me think I might quite enjoy this one, and her other novel The Replacement too (which I actually have a copy of but just haven't gotten to yet...I should remedy that!)

  3. I believe you!!! I already wanted to read this one, you've just cemented it! Entering the giveaway!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Thanks for sharing your thoughts this looks hauntingly interesting thank you so much for the giveaway ^_^

  6. WOW! SO glad to see another book from Brenna Yovanoff!!! I loved The Replacement and I'm adding this to my To Read list RIGHT NOW! :)


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