A Review of The Girl In Between, by Laekan Zea Kemp

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Bryn Reyes is a real life sleeping beauty. Afflicted with Klein-Levin Syndrome, she suffers episodes of prolonged sleep that steal weeks, and sometimes even months, from her life. But unlike most KLS patients, she doesn’t spend each episode in a catatonic state or wake up with no recollection of the time she’s missed. Instead, Bryn spends half her life in an alternate reality made up of her memories. For Bryn, the past is a place, until one day a boy she’s never met before washes up on the illusory beach of her dreams with no memory of who he is.

But the appearance of this strange boy isn’t the only thing that’s changed. Bryn’s symptoms are worsening, her body weakening as she’s plagued by hallucinations even while awake. Her only hope of finding a cure is to undergo experimental treatment created by a German specialist. But when Dr. Banz reveals that he knows more about her strange symptoms than he originally let on, Bryn learns that the boy in her head might actually be the key to understanding what’s happening to her, and worse, that if she doesn’t find out his identity before it’s too late, they both may not survive.

– – – – –

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Quick Reasons: unique look into a mysterious chronic illness; intriguing story, complex characters; an inventive exploration of what MIGHT happen to a person’s brain when comatose; creative story-telling with an air of tension

So, not that it matters much, but how interesting is this cover?! It’s so unique, I’ve never seen anything like it! You know what makes it better? The fact that that statement covers the READ, too.

People don’t exist in just the light or the dark. They exist in the contrast. In the shadows where the two overlap.

First off: the main female character, Bryn? Suffers from Klein-Levin Syndrome. Also known as Sleeping Beauty Syndrome. I mean…the girl sleeps for like… WEEKS?! At a time?! And still, somehow, manages to hook a reader’s interest, keep them enthralled and engaged…and come off more realistic and human than other characters I can think of off the top of my head. The rest of the characters fall nowhere NEAR flat. They all hold their own, and make the story leap to life—which is saying something, considering Bryn spends a good portion of the book in comatose land.

The focus on such an intriguing and mysterious chronic illness/condition also made for an out-of-the-box, unique read. While I’d heard of Sleeping Beauty Syndrome before embarking on this journey, I hadn’t done much research or really looked into it beyond the surface. Having the illness described in such easy-to-follow, uncomplicated language really helped drive home the point—and the utter uncertainty that Bryn lives with day to day.

Who’d want a lifetime of waiting?”

I stared at the soft lines of her lips. “Someone who knows what it is they’re waiting for.”

There is a hint of romance…but it’s subtle, and the characters are so endearing you’ll be rooting for them anyway. The fact that things in Bryn’s world begin changing once Roman shows up… Well, it’s a bit of a cliched idea, I’ll grant you that. But it’s effectively done and helps to push the plot forward when things might otherwise have started to drag.

The exploration of what happens (or…MIGHT happen) to the brain while comatose or unconscious for long periods of time brought a new level of contemplation and mystery to the world being created here. Laekan Zea Kemp went to a lot of trouble to make this a cohesive, realistic journey—and she succeeded.

Dream with your heart and the universe will bend at your will.

Overall, this was an inventive and intriguing read, and I’ll be sure to snap up the rest of the books in this series as soon as I can! I need to know what happens next—that cliffhanger ending must be resolved! (it’s like my favorite television shows…except I don’t have to wait for a whole new season!) I’d definitely recommend to lovers of unique fantasy and inventive world-building.

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