Title: Somewhere In Between
Author: Katie Li
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Fantasy, Romance
Somewhere In Between is Katie Li’s debut novel. It is a story about two unlikely friends who, other than their walks home together from school, do not spend time together (i.e. they never invite each other over or hang out during school hours). During one of their walks, they discover a strange door – one that contains an ever-changing alternate reality. Later on, this location is referred to as the “in-between” place. As the two main characters continue experiencing what the portal to a parallel realm has to offer, they are forced to rediscover themselves and each other.
The in-between place was always waiting for them, but they never knew what to expect on the other side. When they opened the door after school, they could be anywhere—old country towns or abandoned cities, always in a state of decay.
The premise is fascinating. And the manner in which the blurb was written – perfect hook. I found the idea of using a portal as an “in-between” place to be interesting and enticing. Really, I expected this to be an engrossing read.
However, just from reading the first chapter, I could already tell that this book would not be everything I hoped it would be. And true enough, as I read on, I continued to struggle with fully immersing myself in the plot and developing any kind of attachment to the main characters, Magnolia and Rom.
In my opinion, the major factor that attributed to this lack of attachment is the writing style itself. This is not to say that the book was poorly or incorrectly written. It’s just that the story jumped between the past and the present frequently and with little warning. This, together with the multiple viewpoint changes between Magnolia and Rom, stirred a lot of confusion as to what was actually happening. In fact, I’m pretty sure that if I hadn’t read the book’s blurb, I would have never noticed that the portal is capable of altering reality. The indications were subtle.
On a more positive note, I did like the dream-like quality the story has. This novel definitely has its moments. This is perhaps my favorite exchange between Magnolia and Rom.
“What do you remember?”
“I guess it’s like what you said yesterday,” she says. “It’s more of a feeling than any particular moment.”
“Powerful.” She doesn’t even need to think about it, the memory is still strong in her chest. “I felt like we were unstoppable.”
And my favorite part in the entire novel:
The way he is—and the way she feels when she was with him like she could be whoever she wants to be.
That is what she has learned love is. She has seen so much, especially coming to the in-between place. Her ideas of what is real or not real have become malleable, but she wants to believe the definition of love has never changed.
In summary, I did not enjoy the book as much as I thought I would. The narration lacked detail, and the characters weren’t fleshed out well. I would have appreciated a deeper insight into their individual backgrounds and a more elaborate story-telling. In numerous aspects, the book fell short of its premise. But it certainly has potential, and it will definitely keep you guessing.
I’m not well-versed in speculative fiction, but I think this may be a worthwhile read to those who are.