Sorry, I have to shorten the title somewhat. If I typed it out, the title and the chapter heading would take up half my review.
Anyways, I promised I’d try to stay away from Twilight for awhile. Unfortunately Twilight is everywhere.
While I wouldn’t say that Twilight was the first series to appeal to a young adult audience (I’d give that distinction to better series like Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl) it was the first to appeal to a massive mainstream audience. While the books got progressively larger, the plots were fairly simple and the writing easy to understand. It made people feel accomplished to have read four books in a rather short amount of time. It also left a hunger in its wake for more of the same.
Twilight was the pioneer in YA paranormal romance. Rarely to you find a book in the genre that doesn’t follow the same formula. Now there are some exceptions of course. You have standouts like Vampire Academy, Divergent, and Hunger Games that adhere to only enough of the tropes to draw in people who only want to start shipping wars, but on the whole still have good plots.
You can see Twilight formula all over Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. It’s a Twilight knockoff. I’m intensely torn on how I feel about this book. For all of its shortcomings it’s…alright. Our main character Violet certainly has more personality than Ms. Swan. Even so, many of the YA romance problems are still there.
On the other hand, these problems are glaring. And the melodrama is dialed up to eleven in this book. It’s actually unintentionally hilarious how pretentious this book can get. Much in the way of Tommy Wisseau’s The Room its actually so bad it boomerangs back on itself and becomes entertaining.
Onto the glorious masterpiece of YA cheese.
“You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand.”
Freddie said this to me, when I was little.
Why? Why would she do that? Does she like scaring you? Couldn’t she have imparted this wisdom much later on?
We meet our main character Violet White via flashback to an interaction with her grandmother, a woman she just calls Freddie. We learn that Freddie is since deceased and makes no more appearances in the books. It’s a shame, since Freddie is undoubtedly more interesting than Violet. I would have liked to have the cantankerous old lady around, if only for comedic value.
Straight away I have a problem with this chapter.
Then she asked me if I loved my brother.
“Luke is a damn bully.” I said.
I’m gonna start a gratuitous swear word counter. Violet (and everyone else really) interjects curse words into the narrative quite a lot, and I’m going to help the reader keep track.
Above sentence pretty much sums up Luke’s entire character. He’s an asshole. For no other reason that he likes being an asshole, for the majority of his presence in this book. There was a point when I thought it was leading up to something, but no, not really. For 4/5 of this book, Luke is an utter twat-waffle.
We get some brief exposition about Violet’s looks. It’s unnecessary, since she’s going to repeat it for us again next chapter.
Apparently Freddie used to be quite the party girl in her youth, but had a sobering encounter that she never talks about. It drove her to religion. Only not really, because she still swears like a sailor, never prays, and never goes to church. She just develops an intense fear of the devil, and scares her young grandchildren with cryptic, spooky messages about evil.
Honestly, I don’t see why this surprises Violet. It’s completely plausible for someone to have a wild streak in their youth and settle down when they have kids. What was she expecting her grandma to do? Drink and do crack until she dies? With her relatives being what they are I wouldn’t blame her, but still…
It could also be that she lost a child during that time. The loss of a child is devastating, and you can’t blame anyone for dealing with it in their own way. Religion is as good as anything else.
Freddie talked about the Devil all the time, almost as if he were her best friend, or an old lover.
Subtle as a sledgehammer. You might as well have hung a sign that says THIS WILL BE IMPORTANT LATER.
Violet prays to her grandmother all the time. Because our main character has to be whimsical and sort of mystic in order for any of the bullshit plot to make any sense.
As we find out later, Freddie practically raised Luke and Violet. Their parents are complete tools, and Freddie ends up being something of a parental figure in Violet’s life at least. I understand that Freddie’s death, which predates this book by five years, would have had an impact on her. Some of her habits I can put down to grief and wanting to remember a family member. Other things like the prayers just don’t make sense to me.
The way that Violet talks about Freddie makes me think she’s got a little Freddie shrine tucked into her closet. I can’t recall the details well enough to say if she does. If so, expect a rant about it.
The prayer bit is so we can get a bit of backstory on Violet’s situation. Her parents are gone all the time, about the finances running low and being unable to reconcile with her brother. For some reason. It seems like you’d come together to fix your situation but no, you have to write him as an utter asshole.
And I prayed to Freddie about the Devil. I asked her to keep my hand out of his. I asked her to keep me safe from evil.
But for all my praying, the Devil still found me.
Safe from evil? That’s pretty rich. Violet lives in a small seaside town, away from everyone but the next door neighbor. The only evil they should ever face on a day to day basis is a dog coming to poop on their lawn.
It seems to me that the author wanted Violet to be somewhat religious, but then thought better of it. The religious symbolism was blatant in Twilight and it seemed like this author didn’t want to be off putting by having her main character have any sort of faith. I think it would have been better if she’d committed one way or the other. It’s just odd and seems like a really odd way to contribute to the gothic atmosphere she is trying to build.
Alas, we have more stupidity to face down in the next chapter. We meet our main protagonist, and we get a look at how high on herself Violet really is.
Page length: 3 pgs.
Gratuitous swear words: 6