Monday, April 29, 2013

Review: The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff

The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff The Space Between
By Brenna Yovanoff
Publisher:
Razorbill

To Sum It Up:

The daughter of Lilith and Lucifer, Daphne has never ventured outside of Pandemonium, a city in Hell. That changes when her brother, Obie, goes missing, and Daphne must go to Earth to find him. In a world that is new and strange to her, she seeks out Truman Flynn, a troubled mortal boy and the last person known to have seen Obie. Daphne may have set out on a mission to help her brother, but it may be two lives that she ends up saving.

Review:

First, I’d like to ooh and aah over the cover for a bit. The design is just beautiful, even more so when you see it in person, and it certainly caught my eye when Goodreads recommended The Space Between to me over a year ago. And the cover art is actually relevant to the book for a change. Daphne, the protagonist, is the half-demon/half-fallen angel daughter of Lilith and Lucifer and lives in Pandemonium, a city in Hell where everything is made of metal (Pandemonium does have its own furnace, after all.). I think that the cover is an imaginative, accurate visualization of Pandemonium.

This book seriously blew my mind, and in a good way. It’s such a creative take on angels and demons and heaven and hell (mostly the demons and hell parts). I loved how some of the conventional notions involved in this type of story were maintained, like Hell being hot, while others were completely reversed. Daphne doesn’t want to be like her numerous sisters, the Lilim, who go to Earth for “a fix;” they prey on human men and take their dreams and memories from them. Whereas half-demon Daphne demonstrates a conscience, Azrael, the Angel of Death whose duty is to destroy demons on Earth, is portrayed as quite merciless. He calls upon his vicious monster, Dark Dreadful, to dispense with the demons who dare invade his turf. Dark Dreadful is every bit as scary as she sounds.

This novel had some creepy moments and some bizarre moments in it, yet I was 100% sold on the world. When Daphne first arrives on Earth, she’s rather overwhelmed. Her knowledge is limited to what her brother, Obie, whose job entails spending most of his time there, has told her. Daphne is pretty na├»ve to the ways of the human world, like when she thinks the guy behind the deli counter has said “Salome” because she doesn’t know what “salami” is. But this scene and others like it totally work and don’t make Daphne look silly because Brenna Yovanoff has written them in such a way that you couldn’t expect anything else from a character who’s lived in Hell all of her life.

The characterizations in The Space Between are incredible. Here’s a statement that I don’t think I could have gotten away with during my thirteen years of Catholic school: I really liked Beelzebub! He heads up Hell’s Collections Department; i.e. he’s in charge of reaping souls. He’s just cool and is the person whom Daphne turns to for help and advice. I also liked Obie and how strong his sibling bond was with his sister. The two look out for one another and are very much alike in the compassion that they both have for others.

I loved Daphne. I loved how she strove to be better than the Lilim and how big her heart was despite her doubts that she’d ever know what it meant to love. I just wanted to tell her, “But you already know, Daphne! You already know!” Even though her search for Obie takes her to a place that is alien to her and she’s nearly mugged soon after setting foot on Earth, Daphne keeps her wits about her. As she begins running out of time to help her brother, some cracks start to show in her poise, but it’s then that she finds support from an unlikely source: Truman Flynn.

Daphne first sees Truman when he makes a brief appearance in Hell following a suicide attempt. He’s sent back to Earth with Obie, who’d been looking after him and whose job it is to help the Lost Ones, the half-human offspring of fallen angels. Truman is Daphne’s only clue to Obie’s whereabouts, and when she encounters Truman again, he’s in really bad shape, passed out on a bathroom floor from too much drinking. Since his mother’s death, he’s set himself on a path to self-destruction that is heartbreaking to behold. Daphne, who so wrongly believes that she’s incapable of human empathy, has felt exactly that for Truman from the moment she met him. Truman, who so wrongly believes that he has nothing to live for, very slowly comes around to helping Daphne with her task. The relationship that gradually builds between these two is exquisitely crafted. My shabby description of it can’t even begin to properly capture it.

I was all set to unequivocally give The Space Between five stars until the novel started winding down toward its conclusion. It’s not that I didn’t like the ending itself; I just didn’t like the way events leading up to the ending unfolded. In fact, I was like, “WTF?!” I think this is just a case of me being me, though. Every single other aspect of this stellar novel deserves five stars, and that’s what I’m rating the book overall.

All in All:

There’s so much to love here: the writing, the story, the characters, the world, the spin on demons and angels. I love paranormal reads that make the impossible seem plausible, and this one fully succeeds in doing so.

16 comments:

  1. I must admit that I am VERY curious about this one. I love the cover - it was the first thing that drew me in when it came to this book. And now that you've reviewed it and basically told me things that I think I'll love about it, I want to read it too!

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    1. I love how dramatic the cover is! It ties into the story perfectly, too. I hope you love this as much as I did!

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  2. The cover is gorgeous! And the premise sounds very interesting- I love new takes on angels and demons. Great review!

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    1. I was beyond impressed with how Brenna Yovanoff put her own spin on these supernatural beings and made this story so unique.

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  3. I didn't read the review as I want to go into this without knowing much of anything, but did skip to your rating and I'm so excited that you loved this! I have it out from the library and plan on reading it very very soon. I hope I love it as much as you! :)

    ~Merin @ Read and Reviewed~

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    1. This was a library borrow for me, too, and I definitely want to buy my own copy. Can't wait to hear wait you think of it, Merin!

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  4. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the book so much!! I have this on my bookshelf and haven't read it yet. But this review has really inspired me to put it higher on my TBR list. I just love Yovanoff's work. Great review :)

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    1. I really enjoyed Paper Valentine, but The Space Between just blew me away. I hope you get to read this soon!

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  5. This is the only Brenna Yovanoff book I haven’t read yet, and everyone seems to agree it’s her best. I really need to pick this up. I’m so excited that you loved the characterization and world-building. This seems like such a slam-dunk for me.

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    1. I've only read this and Paper Valentine, but I'm really impressed with how she writes paranormal, making it feel so real. If I didn't have two fairly large library books at home, I'd be running to pick up The Replacement. Next library haul, for sure.

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  6. Wonderful review! As I was reading, I counted in my mind the amount of TBR books I'd have to read until I can buy and devour this one - that's how much your review made me want to read it :) Brenna Yovanoff must be a true genius - I hear it everywhere!

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    1. I put this on my to-buy list as well. I yelled at myself for waiting so long to read it!

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  7. You know, I'd had this on my reading list for so long, I'd almost forgotten about it until I saw your review here! I'll be moving it up my to-read list after reading your review!! I loved how, despite the fact that the ending was along the WTF lines, the overall feel of the book still garnered a 5-star rating! I'm really digging the sound of the world-building and writing style - even though I haven't read anything by Brenna Yovanoff she's made a few appearances on my reading list :) To top it all off, the characters sound very memorable and that's always a big plus! Thanks for sharing your thoughts & insight so brilliantly once again Lee :D

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    1. I'd let this sit around on my TBR for a while, too, and only decided to finally read it because demons were the featured supernatural being last month for the Paranormal Reading Challenge. I wanted to kick myself really hard for not getting around to this much sooner because it was amazing!

      At first I was quite upset with how the ending was going down. It was one of those, "No, this can't be happening!" type of moments. I'm OK with it now, though, and that I had a strong reaction in the first place says a lot about how invested I was in the characters, lol.

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  8. I really enjoyed the developing relationship between Truman and Daphne. Truman is so hurt and damaged and Daphne is really relatable, even though she is half-demon. This is all thanks to Yovanoff's beautiful writing. I haven't read Yovanoff's The Replacement yet, but I hear good things about that too.

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    1. That's one of the things I loved about Daphne- that she was half-demon yet so compassionate, especially toward Truman. The Replacement was also excellent, though The Space Between remains my favorite Yovanoff novel by a slight margin.

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