Published by Egmont USA on February 11, 2014
Source: Edelweiss, Publisher
Genres: Horror, Young Adult
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In the tradition of Memento and Inception comes a thrilling and scary young adult novel about blurred reality where characters in a story find that a deadly and horrifying world exists in the space between the written lines.
Seventeen-year-old Emma Lindsay has problems: a head full of metal, no parents, a crazy artist for a guardian whom a stroke has turned into a vegetable, and all those times when she blinks away, dropping into other lives so ghostly and surreal it's as if the story of her life bleeds into theirs. But one thing Emma has never doubted is that she's real.
Then she writes "White Space," a story about these kids stranded in a spooky house during a blizzard.
Unfortunately, "White Space" turns out to be a dead ringer for part of an unfinished novel by a long-dead writer. The manuscript, which she's never seen, is a loopy Matrix meets Inkheart story in which characters fall out of different books and jump off the page. Thing is, when Emma blinks, she might be doing the same and, before long, she's dropped into the very story she thought she'd written. Trapped in a weird, snow-choked valley, Emma meets other kids with dark secrets and strange abilities: Eric, Casey, Bode, Rima, and a very special little girl, Lizzie. What they discover is that they--and Emma--may be nothing more than characters written into being from an alternative universe for a very specific purpose.
Now what they must uncover is why they've been brought to this place--a world between the lines where parallel realities are created and destroyed and nightmares are written--before someone pens their end.
All the negative and DNF reviews intrigued me to be honest, and I really wanted to give White Space a good, hot go. Now that I’ve finished the book, I’m not sure whether to be disappointed that I ended up reading it or glad that I read such a unique book. Most of all, I feel confused and frustrated.
White Space is a combination of a psychological thriller, a gory horror, and a physics based mystery about multiverses in storybooks. It’s told through multiple point of views from different characters in a dead writer’s books. Finding out who they are and their place in the story is part of the mystery, making it a disjointed, confusing read. What you’re told is constantly coasting between fact, fiction, or something else entirely. Chapters will end abruptly, continued by the next person’s point of view. I can see how this could have confused, frustrated and annoyed people, but I managed to follow the book until the halfway mark, when it all goes downhill from there.
Filled with physics based explanations, story book realities and discussions of the Dark Passages, Dickson’s Mirror and the Fog, at this point of the book I just wanted some answers. Rarely are we given straight explanations about what is happening, with us having to rely on what we are told is real through the different characters’ experiences, and what we think is real. The book blurb gives more clarity for what is happening than the book itself ever does. I was frustrated at the ending, which seemed to be completely deviant from the bulk of the plot itself and felt like a cop out.
Emma was the book’s shining character, she’s been in and out of psychological wards as she blinks herself into existence. She’s got Alice in Wonderland syndrome, where she perceives different images of herself and finds herself in completely different lives. Her only common denominator is Kramer, who always has a position of authority over her, and Jasper, her father. Emma is a link between the story book characters, and Lizzie, the daughter of the writer and creator of the stories, and the latter of half of the book converges their storylines together.
There were some truly creative ways of describing the gore and horror, which Ilsa J Bick seems to excel at:
Whenever she coughed, he kept expecting bloody hunks of gnawed lung or liver or intestine to come flying out of her mouth.
When he gave another moist, ripping cough, the spray that spattered the snow reminded him of those red sprinkles they put on cupcakes.
While certainly a creative direction to take a book, I think we would have benefited from a lot more answers and less vagueness when it came to the explanations. In order to be emotionally invested, we had to get to know the characters and who they truly were, which was a major barrier for my enjoyment here.
White Space wasn’t a bad read by any means, it was just a vague and confusing story that alludes to alternate realities and a blur between fact and fiction. It’s definitely a creative, unique book that reminded me very much of Sucker Punch, except with a lot less action and scantily clad women.
I received a review copy from Egmont USA in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 3 out of 5