Book Review: White Space by Ilsa J. Bick
Title: White Space
Series: The Dark Passages#1
By: Ilsa J. Bick
Author Info: Website | Twitter | Goodreads
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre Type: Science Fiction, Dark Fantasy
Publication Date: February 11th 2014
Pages: 560 pages
Publisher: Egmont USA
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.
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White Space by Ilsa J. Bick is the first title in the new young adult, two-book series called The Dark Passages. White Space takes the concept of alternate realities and combines it with horror and mystery where the characters of a novel come alive and exist in a reality between the lines.
There is definitely a sense of being dropped into the story without a clue of what's going on as the reader is taken through a blurred reality where dark and terrifying things are lurking in the White Space. The protagonist Emma is a seventeen-year-old who has just written a scary story for her high school teacher entitled "White Space" about several kids who get stranded in a spooky house during a blizzard. For the first 30% of the book, remember it's a walloping 560 pages, I had no clue what was really going on in the book, other than what the its blurb described. This was in a sense both good and bad. It was good in the fact that I was to enjoy the ride knowing this was a fractured story and that pieces were going to be slowly revealed. On the other hand, it was bad because I expected a high payoff in the end and didn't really feel like I got it.
White Space is filled with some terrific horror imagery, Poe like writing and mind bending concepts. It reminded me of the first time I watched Matrix and I was trying to understand the whole concept of it. In fact, the author makes several references to the movie, Matrix. We wonder how much is real and how much is just an allusion or something else entirely. There's Nows, alternate realities and Dark Passages to travel through. There's even a strange magic mirror and tons of references to Dickens Dream. Monster dolls, strange Peculiars that hold thought-magic, and a whispering-man. If you can get through and brave all the strange terms and concepts, there is some truly scary and gruesome action waiting for you.
The beginning of the book introduces us to a brilliant and precocious child named Lizzie. From her we learn about how she and several other characters travel and jump stories as well as witness her father bringing something terrible out from the Dickens mirror. The pov then switches to Emma's character who realizes that her story White Space may be a place where the characters come alive and the deadly and horrifying world she has created is just another reality. The characters voices from Emma's story, often confusingly, alternate along with both Emma and Lizzie. As they each end up together in Emma's story and converge at the spooky house and the terrible blizzard, things really begin to happen. The edge of your seat action and danger mixes together with some spine tingling horror. This was what the long wait was for as this fractured story begins to come together finally. Throughout the story I really enjoyed both Lizzie and Emma's characters that were well fleshed out. The rest of the characters and their interaction between the White Space did not capture my attention. There are too many jumps in alternating pov's between the characters making it hard to connect to them and confusing.
Unfortunately, even though I made it to the very end and enjoyed the aspects of horror and Poe like descriptions, the final mystery left me feeling somewhat lackluster and still confused. I needed something more after traveling the vast distance with these characters. Although many things begin to coalesce into an intriguing story plot, I couldn't help feeling like there was something missing. If no resolution, then some other payoff would have been nice.
My Rating: 2.5 Stars. It was Okay.
PLEASE NOTE: A courtesy review copy of this book was provided by Egmont USA via Edelweiss in exchange for my fair review. Thank you Egmont USA for the review opportunity!