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Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
by April Genevieve Tucholke

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

By: April Genevieve Tucholke

Release Date: August 15, 2013

Our Rating: 1 star

Summary:

You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand…

Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town…until River West comes along. River rents the guesthouse behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard. Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more? Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery…who makes you want to kiss back. Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.

Blending faded decadence and the thrilling dread of gothic horror, April Genevieve Tucholke weaves a dreamy, twisting contemporary romance, as gorgeously told as it is terrifying—a debut to watch.


A Note From Your Reviewers:

Normally, we have a lot of fun reading a book together. A lot of the time we disagree. This was not one of those times.

The writing is very simple. Haven’t decided if I like that since its supposed to be Gothic and all beautiful or whatever.

Katy – 1 minute in

Whoa I just caught myself nodding off.

Katy – 8 minutes in

I think Maggie Stiefvater would’ve done better.

Ugh still haven’t finished Raven Boys sequel.

Lol OK nvm Dream Thieves was not that great. Sarah Rees Brennan then.

Katy & Mitch – 15 minutes in

The only thing remotely Gothic about it so far is the lack of a point to what’s going on – so much setup.
Ok I’ve decided this is what a Gothic story Jennifer Armentrout might write feels like GAAAHHH

Mitch – 39 minutes in

That was day one. We made it halfway through the book before Katy fell asleep and Mitch decided to watch old episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine instead. Day two followed with much griping and talk about the worst book of the year. Yeah, it was that bad.

Katy’s Review:

This book promised to be a gorgeously terrifying gothic horror, but for me, it ended up being a cheesy bad ghost – or devil, I should say – story. To call it a nightmare would imply that I was emotionally moved – intrigued, nervous, scared – and the only feeling I had for it was disappointment that it was so silly. I really tried to like the book, but I just felt Tucholke missed so many opportunities with this one because it had potential to be so great.


ELEMENTS OF STYLE & WORLD BUILDING

First of all, the writing felt elementary and was very simple, which would have been fine, but I was hoping Tucholke was going to throw me into a creepy, dark setting – I pictured Sleepy Hollow for the town of Echo and Jane Eyre’s Thornfield Hall for Citizen Kane. But the world building was weak, at best, with bare minimum description of setting or anything else. With such a premise, I was waiting to see that beautiful writing with descriptive imagery. Unfortunately, it never came to be.

And as for symbolism and analogies? I was hoping Tucholke was going somewhere with them because she name-dropped several books and stories including William Faulkner and Agatha Christie. I suppose I get the idea of where Violet was coming from, but she treated them so frivolously that there is no impact of their possible symbolism to the story.

Also, there was potential for the paintings to be used as such, but they weren’t either. There was one instance where Luke was painting a girl holding her shadow, and there was a lot of potential here to possibly compare the girl to Violet or maybe even River. But his metaphor seems almost backwards. If the shadow is the one that needs her support, why is it her that feels like she doesn’t exist? Unless I’m not understanding correctly or I’m lacking an imagination, I would think it should be the other way around, right? Who knows.


CHARACTERS

Now I’m just going to put this out there. I do not like the characters in this book. Any of them. At all.

Violet is eccentrically odd – and not in the spunky kind of way – more of the quiet girl with strange, disturbing thoughts that you have to watch out for. And I guess that would have been fine if she had been the villain in the book, but she wasn’t. She was different, yeah I get that. But she was also pretty much without friends, and Tucholke never really set up the scene for us that way, except with Luke’s occasional derogatory remarks. Totally different from her twin.

Speaking of the twin, I couldn’t stand Luke. Yes, I understand that Tucholke set him up to be a total and utter douchebag. But I never understood why he was the way he was. I know siblings fight, but their relationship was unnecessarily degrading. It was never explained why Luke was so nasty to Violet – if he was jealous of her growing up, if he had a bad childhood with Freddie or the parents, why it made him feel more manly to bully her. It was just annoying, especially in the scene where he “had taken off his pinstriped jacket” and “began to flex his pectoral muscles in the way that [Violet] hated.” No, they weren’t outside on a hot day, where he felt the need to cool off and use that opportunity to show off. It was just a random scene. Um, okay. I guess I Tucholke’s purpose was to make him such a bad seed where he had room to change at the end. Still, I think the character building was so flawed with his case, that it was hard to care about him.

And Sunshine? Can someone slap her please! Again, I suppose the point was to make her as a self-centered bitch so her personality can improve after everything they’ve been through. Like Luke, i felt she was too conveniently flawed so Tucholke would have the perfect set up for later. “Stop fighting. Both of you. It interrupts my flirting.”But wow, just get her to shut up and go away.

River West. I’m sorry, but he creeped me out from the beginning. I know he’s supposed to be the mysterious stranger that shows up out of nowhere, so you’re not sure if you can trust him. But I thought his lines were very cheesy and anything but smooth. In fact, if a guy tried to say some of those things to me, I would roll my eyes and try to stay far, far away. So, okay, Violet is lonely, and attention from a hot boy is exactly something that would make her melt, and there may be the addition of being under the influence or something like that. Still, at least make him a Rico Suave instead of some creepy stalker guy.

I won’t mention any other characters because I don’t want to ruin the story. But I do want to say that how convenient it is that the parents are gone and that other parental figures are just about absent from this book. do not like what Tucholke did to Freddie’s character. And by the end of the book, connections were made, but Tucholke didn’t really hone in on their significance. I get the Will thing, but who cares about John.


PLOT & STORY DEVELOPMENT

First, it took forever to get there, and even when it did, it wasn’t clearly formed into a coherent thought. I kind of wish she stuck to one thing instead of trying to throw in twists and turns (none of with was unpredictable, by the way) to keep the readers interested.

I won’t say much about the plot except that it’s silly. I mean no disrespect to Tucholke, but really?!? THAT was the story behind everything? I was really hoping for something huge. And I was so disappointed to find out the truth.

But back to the story development. I called it. I called it at the mention of Texas, and I called it in the attic and the aftermath. And it really messed up everything that Tucholke was building toward. That’s all I’m doing to say about it.

All in all, I think there was a lot of potential for this to be a truly amazing, beautifully written, gothically descriptive, twistedly haunting horror story. Tucholke had so much there that was already in place to be such. But the fact that it lacked world-building, had unlikable characters, slow developing plot and a scattered storyline, I just felt that it failed to live up to its potential. I really tried hard to like it. I just couldn’t.


Mitch’s Review:


THE WRITING

You know how April Genevieve Tucholke’s writing has been called haunting and atmospheric? Well, it only is because either she borrows gothic horror tropes that have nothing to do with the actual story, like the whole deal with a crossroads demon or the entire discussion of music and art, or she comes up with these fake outs, like the stuff with the creepy kids waving stakes around, that end up being nothing, and the whole effect is like the book equivalent of eating cotton candy, filler to make you feel like you’re getting something substantive but in reality is nothing at all. I just made the comparison to Raven Boys because there the writing built up the setting and advanced the story, this was just fluff for the sake of fluff. What a waste of words.


THE CHARACTERS

The idea behind a mysterious boarder could’ve been interesting, but then this Violet chick had to go all Bella Swan on him. Not only does the romance take up ninety percent of the ten percent of the book that’s actual story and not just fluff, but by the time it’s revealed this River dude is a danger to her and she’s still thinking about how much she loves him – I think I threw up a little in my mouth.


THE PLOT

Ha ha you’re kidding right? Sorry to break it to you, but there is no plot. The thrilling dread? False advertising. It’s just random pointless shit happening because River is a mysterious loner dude and potential menace to society. That leads to the dumbest plot twist ever because in order to make the romance work he can’t be a completely irredeemable psycho – even though murder is still murder. RUN VIOLET WHILE YOU STILL CAN!!!!!

Go to Katy’s review on Goodreads.

Go to Mitch’s review on Goodreads.

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  1. Katy
    August 23, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    Whoa! I TOTALLY missed this comment: “Ok I’ve decided this is what a Gothic story Jennifer Armentrout might write feels like GAAAHHH.” I’m surprised you didn’t bring it up again whey you didn’t get a comeback from me.

    • August 27, 2013 at 1:36 pm

      Don’t remind me.

  2. August 24, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    Wow. I have to say, even though I want to read this book, this was the funniest negative review I’ve ever read. I love Mitch’s review. 😀

    • August 27, 2013 at 1:37 pm

      Gee thanks. I hope you have better luck with it than the two of us had, we seem to be in the minority so that’s a distinct possibility.

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