Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Review of Betwixt

For three teenagers, dark mystery has always lurked at the corner of the eyes and the edge of sleep. Beautiful Morgan D'Amici wakes in her trailerpark home with dirt and blood under her fingernails. Paintings come alive under Ondine Mason's violet-eyed gaze. Haunted runaway Nix Saint-Michael sees halos of light around people about to die.
At a secret summer rave in the woods, the three teenagers learn of their true, changeling nature and their uncertain, intertwined destinies. Riveting, unflinching, beautiful, Betwixt shows a magic as complex and challenging as any ordinary reality.
[from Goodreads]
Rating:  1 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Someone tired of the same-old, same-old paranormal
High point:  It stands out from the YA paranormal crowd
Low point:  Mixed-up mythologies
Reader maturity: 15+

Betwixt was, like the word, kind of strange. Aside from the title, however, I wasn't impressed. There were several things that really stuck out to me as confusing, frustrating my efforts to enjoy the novel.

From page one, I was confused. The reader is switched back and forth between several different characters, and at times, it was several pages (pages, not paragraphs) before I figured out the POV. Surprisingly, my favorite character was Nix (the male POV--collective gasp, everyone!), but the two girls weren't much competition. Reading through Morgan's sections made me feel slimy, and Ondine didn't do much for me.

Since it was so hard to follow a character chronologically, it took me a while to figure out what was going on, and even then, it didn't make sense. For one thing, the book starts out as a contemporary, and then all of a sudden, it's a paranormal involving something called the Ring (capital R) and the ring (little r). I'm not sure what that was because the phrase "the ring" was actually used for three different things, and half the time, I couldn't figure out which of the two lower-case rings was being referred to.

Betwixt also didn't keep its own mythology straight (well, I don't think it did; what with all those R/r/rings, maybe it did, and I just didn't notice). In one section, we're told that the changeling fay (fay, not fey) must join in the Exidis (their version of a rapture, I think) by a certain age (early twenties or so) or their bodies will wear out and they'll live forever in pain. Later on, it's explained that one of the changelings that stayed behind (something to do with a R/r/ring), but one of the main characters is older than the age where his body should've worn out already...so how was he still walking around as a main character??

And [spoiler alert] in Betwixt, the fay "borrow" human bodies until the Exidis, and then the humans live out the rest of their lives in the bodies. What happens to the humans while they're being inhabited? Do they know it? Do they remember what happened in their first 20+ years? Or do their families think they've all gone insane overnight when they can't remember two decades worth of stuff because their lives were being lived by changelings?

And how do the fay know that if their bodies wear out, all that's left is pain, pain and more pain? It's not like any of them "died," so to speak, and then came back and told everyone else what it was like. [End spoiler]

I wanted to like Betwixt because it's different from what I've been reading lately. Unfortunately, it just wasn't my cup of tea.

Title:  Betwixt
Author:  Tara Bray Smith
Genre:   Teen Fiction - Faeries
Year:   2007
Book Source:  Purchased

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