Shiirleyy's Bookshelf has migrated to Dear Shirley ! I will continue to post book reviews but there will also be a lot of personal and travel-related posts :)

Review: Between the Lives by Jessica Shirvington

28 Jun 2013

Between the Lives
by Jessica Shirvington
Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
Release Date: May 1st, 2013
Format: Paperback, 336 pages

Above all else, though I try not to think about it, I know which life I prefer. And every night when I Cinderella myself from one life to the next a very small, but definite, piece of me dies. The hardest part is that nothing about my situation has ever changed. There is no loophole. 

 Until now, that is... 

 For as long as she can remember, Sabine has lived two lives. Every 24 hours she Shifts to her ′other′ life - a life where she is exactly the same, but absolutely everything else is different: different family, different friends, different social expectations. In one life she has a sister, in the other she does not. In one life she′s a straight-A student with the perfect boyfriend, in the other she′s considered a reckless delinquent. Nothing about her situation has ever changed, until the day when she discovers a glitch: the arm she breaks in one life is perfectly fine in the other. 

 With this new knowledge, Sabine begins a series of increasingly risky experiments which bring her dangerously close to the life she′s always wanted... But just what - and who - is she really risking?

I’ve heard so much praise over the years for Jessica Shirvington’s Violet Eden series (which I own but have yet to read), so I was very excited when I heard about Jess’s new book, Between the Lives coming out in May. I got even more enthusiastic about starting the book when 4-5 star reviews began showing up on my GR updates and I was like “ Could this be THAT amazing?”. Sadly, Between the Lives wasn’t as brilliant as I expected it to be, but it was a refreshingly original and praiseworthy book nonetheless.

While the concept was so creative (kudos to Jess for thinking up such an imaginative and unique concept!), I couldn’t quite engage with the story. Sabine is meant to take on the role of two completely different characters 1) Herself in Roxbury 2) Another self in Wellesley. Despite being 2 different people, Sabine sounded exactly the same in both worlds. Now, this can be interpreted as both a good thing and a bad thing. On one hand, I liked how she sounded the same because it obviously meant she never ‘lost’ herself during the shift and she’s still the one and only Sabine. On the other hand, I felt her thoughts, actions and image in Wellesley were so contradicting, there was no way she could be this perfect, materialistic rich girl. It didn’t help either, that her voice was so bland and indistinguishable from so many other YA heroines.

I’m legitimately starting to loathe psychiatric wards now. Not for the first time, I wonder how many patients are there not because they need to be there, but because the psychiatrists believe anyone ‘special’ or ‘different’ requires help. *sigh* Our male lead Ethan is a total sweetie, no doubt, but I couldn’t feel the chemistry between him and Sabine at all. No spark, no chemistry, no nothing. Just a guy and a girl who supposedly fall in love. Yes, I should love him because he’s so understanding, selfless..etc. but I couldn’t root for them. I just didn’t feel a connection with these two characters unfortunately.

Some readers/bloggers might’ve cried at the end; I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel anything, because well…I was sort of sad. I’m certain many readers will absolutely adore this standalone novel by everyone’s favourite Aussie author, however, this wasn’t my cup of tea. It’s a story I enjoyed, but not one I would read again. 
A massive thank you to HarperCollins Australia for providing a copy of  Between The Lives for review! 


  1. I read Embrace, but I didn't love it so much. That said, I really like Jessica's writing, so I'm sure I'll continue to read her books. It's sad though, that this didn't evoke the emotion and connection you'd hoped for! That's always a shame. Great honest review though, Shirley! :)

  2. I didn't expect to like this so I was really surprised when I did! And I defo cried at the end.

    I think it was believable for her to be similar in each world because she has two lives but she is 1 person, not 2. But I can totes understand this not working for you, I completely expected to feel the same way!

    And yes, psych wards seem to be the place for kids to go when they don't need to be there!

  3. I had no idea she'd released another book Shirley! I'm a huge fan of her Violet Eden series (I hope you get a chance to read them sometime soon!), so this book would be rocketing to the top of my TBR list if not for the mention of a lack of spark with the romance. I need there to be that fire Shirley! That tension and intensity you can just feel when reading, and that is clearly missing from their relationship. Too bad. Thanks for your thoughts on this one though, fabulous as always!

  4. I haven't even read one and I am growing tired of these dual reality books, there have been so many lately. Also tired of all these overly dramatic books. I do however like that it is original in concept. Great review, girl!

  5. Okay, the whole idea of this novel is so awesome and unique and exciting that I want to go and buy this book right now!

    However, I can totally understand what you're issues were with the book. It really sucks that Sabine didn't stand out from other YA heroines. And I think that's something so important now, with so many YA's fighting for attention. You need to have that one main character who you just can't forget. And I need to have a great romance that is full of chemistry and sparks to keep me reading. So even though Ethan sounds really cute, there's no way I could enjoy a relationship where there's nothing special happening between them.

    It's such a shame that Between the Lives wasn't as good as the blurb made it look. But thank you so much for sharing this honest review with us, Shirley. I love your reviewing style :D

  6. I haven't actually read anything by this author before, but I have to admit that I'm curious about this book. It's a shame that it fell flat for you in places though. The way you describe the romance makes me wonder if I'll be any more invested in this. I guess I'll find out eventually. :) Lovely review, Shirley!

  7. I haven't read a lot of books that are set in parallel worlds so I'm kinda curious-Besides that cover is GORGEOUS. ;)
    I haven't read The Violent Eden series either so I might try that before reading Between the Lives.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts,Shirley! :)

  8. I love how you always find something positive to say even about books you didn't much care for. I do appreciate originality and I like the concept. I'm curious enough to maybe give it a chance at some point and see how it works.
    I'm curious about the ending, too. I love a good emotional finale every now and then.
    Great review!

  9. I was nodding along to your part about Ethan and Sabine not having chemistry! Definitely didn't feel a spark till the end hey?

    I thought the psych ward was written nicely though, I didn't feel like anyone was really out to get Sabine and they were all genuinely trying to help.

    Great review!

  10. I love the concept of this book. I haven't read many reviews about this one, but it looks like it's an okay book to read once :) Great review!



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