“It’s time to go hunt some devils!”
This is the sequel to “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” by April Genevieve Tucholke. I gave the first installment four out of five stars. You may notice that I have rated this one half a star less than the first. In honor of my first review on this blog, I'll be giving away a paperback copy of the first book via the Rafflecopter after the jump (US ONLY, sorry). There are spoilers after the jump, so proceed with caution!
“Between the Spark and the Burn” is just as poetic, moody, and dark as the first book in the set, I enjoyed this book for its emotion and excitement. However, I felt that, similar to Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, it required a great deal of forgetting reality. It made this installment slightly more difficult to get into because Violet wasn't set in the fictional Echo and bound to her home of Citizen Kane--but out in the world, causing the believability to be even more difficult. In addition, the action, especially towards the end, was confusing and sometimes very hard to follow. I struggled to determine actual events from daydreams and emotional ramblings. While beautifully written, it defiantly should be read in front of window framing a storm with a cup of coffee or tea in hand.
Spoilers and Rafflecopter after the jump.
Okay, first, let’s discuss the small fact that no one besides the teenagers seem to remember the damage done by Brodie. Sunshine was almost beaten to death by her own parents, to the point that she was apparently in a coma for a short period. How was this explained to their parents?
“Oh your daughter? She’s in a coma, she fell over shaking her hips like the harlot Violet compares her to. Yeah, that’s not her blood on the bats. And those flashes of memories that you’re having because the ‘glow’ is wearing off? That’s not you beating her to a pulp.”
Where is the Department of Social Services on this one?
Not to mention—how is Jack still living with them? No one followed up on the drunk, known for abusing his kid, who killed himself in front of the entire town. Not even to confirm the suicide was preceded by child murder. He just lives there now, with no explanation to Violet and Luke’s returning parents. They just accept that there’s another kid, an extra mouth to feed when they can’t seem to feed the two they have a rightful duty to.
Next I should mention that I am totally Team Neely. I could care less about River, who I think is a bad bite of French bread away from becoming a psychopath. So I do enjoy that Neely has a better role and there’s some chemistry in this installment. I especially enjoyed the moments between Violet and Neely throughout the search for River—especially during their stay in Carollie. That’s a big positive, and likely why I went with a rating a half star higher.
Carollie was my favorite part of the entire book. Canto was a welcome addition—especially with the group’s newest member Finch being in tow. The absorption of Finch into the gang was another aspect that I found to be too far beyond belief to even discuss at length. I will just say that it was overly eerie, simply for the sake of being creepy. There wasn’t any connection to reality at all, and it caused me to struggle with the novel even more. Not to mention, we got rid of Luke and Sunshine, who I don’t enjoy.
However, Finch is a member of the group none the less, and I liked him regardless of where he came from. He added a touch of sweetness and attachment to the ground that the other characters seemed to lack. The same can be said for Canto—her tone and delivery paired with her impatience and unwillingness to be accept lies were much needed for Violet and Neely.
I won’t lie; I was disappointed when they found River. As I previously mentioned, I prefer Neely, but I didn’t write the book and I’m sure that Tucholke had her reasons. However, I did love the action leading up to River’s discovery. I was excited by the dreams and memories Violet had of River in the shack prior to finding him. Knowing the dreams were real immediately after Neely and Violet shared their first kiss was heart pounding and worth all the mess leading up to it.
This was another example of being unable to decipher action—I had to re-read the section four times before figuring out they saved Finch. It made little sense, and was actually kind of disappointing. Although, it was even more disappointing given the activities at the end of the book…
On the other hand, the same can’t be said for the actions following River. His insanity was great at first, but just plain silly after a while. In addition, I understand that Neely’s glow would be taking the brunt of everything, but I don’t really understand how or why it was never noticed before. In fact, Neely had a vested interest in River not returning to health because they would then be competing for Violet. But Neely, being the doormat that he apparently is in this installment, decides to almost die instead.
Also, River’s glow isn’t physical. As in, it doesn’t cause him physical pain to use it. It causes psychological pain (apparently), so why would soaking up River’s glow use in order to help him get back to his previously somewhat sane mental state cause Neely bruises? Especially in specific places? Why does his power work on River’s glow but not Brodie’s, given that Brodie was actually with them the entire time?
I liked the inclusion of Freddie’s diary entries, but we already knew the story that she told. It would be different if she talked about Will’s sister soaking up Will’s burn, and that being what really killed her—so that it would parallel when we are reading the present day. But it’s the same story about her throat being cut by the same person, for a just as vague reason.
All in all, I felt that Tucholke could have gone so much further with the story and the characters. The conclusion—where everyone is back in the same boat, is just plain disappointing. A vegetable Brodie seems like a missed opportunity for justice. Brodie killed hundreds of innocent people, including children, with no reason. If we’re not going to kill Brodie after he caused River’s insanity, almost killed Neely, and essentially raped Canto, then it’s just too little to be called a conclusion.