Betwixt by Melissa Pearl: Review


Synopsis from Goodreads: Beautiful, wild-child Nicole Tepper is hit by a car and left for dead. But when she wakes the next morning, Nicole finds herself in bed without a scratch. Perhaps she was more intoxicated than usual, as her mother is giving her the silent treatment and her friends are ignoring her as well.
Things take a turn for the weird when Nicole soon discovers she is actually hovering between life and death. Her body is lying in the forest while her spirit is searching for anyone who can hear her. Unfortunately the only person who can is Dale Finnigan, the guy she publicly humiliated with a sharp-tongued insult that has left him branded.
Desperate, Nicole has no choice but to haunt Dale and convince the freaked-out senior to help her. Will he find her body before it’s too late? Or will the guy who tried to kill her with his car, beat him there and finish her off before anyone finds out?

Source: ARC from author for a fair and honest review (blog tour)

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Review: Nicky has a few serious problems:  she is betwixt this world and the next; the only person who can hear her, one Dale Finnigan, pretty much hates her; her physical body is in a significant amount of pain and fading and; she has no idea where her physical body is actually located.  Yeah, this is gonna be easy.

Melissa Pearl delivers a good read and a strong plot filled with likeable and completely unlikeable characters in this quickly-paced young adult novel.  Pearl doesn’t waste any time getting the plot moving and within the first chapter Nicky finds herself on a dark country road trying to make her way back home from an unhappy date.  While this predicament sucks, it is immeasurably better than what comes next that is, being plowed by a swerving vehicle which sends her flying over a guardrail and into a ditch where no one can see her.  The next morning Nicky wakes in her bed with funky hair, dressed in her date clothes, and little to no memory of how she got home the night before.  Typical.

Unfortunately, Nicky is a bit dense and it takes her making it through nearly half of the school day before she finally figures out her “friends” and parents aren’t ignoring her, they just can’t see her newly incorporeal from.  Let the full-on freak out begin.  As Nicky is wandering through the school she catches her tool of a boyfriend making out with another girl and finds her loser friends taking bets and posting Twitter polls about her status as either dead or a runaway.  Nicky eventually makes her way to the library where she sees Dale Finnigan, a boy she once thought for sure she could really like if he were only cool enough for her friends to accept.  Since that was never going to happen, Nicky turned on Dale and made sure he never put himself in her line of fire again.  As they say, karma is a b*tch and it turns out Dale is the only person on earth who can hear Nicky.

For three days Dale does everything possible to help Nicky not only remain calm but find her location so her physical body can be rescued before she actually dies.  These three days are some of the most revealing and turbulent of Nicky and Dale’s young lives as they have to learn to trust one another in order to achieve their goal.  For Dale this means telling Nicky his secret and for Nicky it means learning to accept that even she, as wretched as she has been for the past two years, deserves a second chance.  Depending on her mood, Nicky is either completely worthless or wildly determined – the former is rather tiring and the latter is rather humorous from time to time.

As if Nicky and Dale’s task weren’t already daunting enough let’s add to it the fact that someone else is looking for her body and willing to bury it, dead or alive in order to protect the driver of the car that hit her.  Oh balls, really?  Really!  As Nicky and Dale put all the pieces together the clock on Nicky’s life is winding down and neither is willing to give up on the other.  The last several chapters of Betwixt are nerve-wracking and dramatic but so worth the wait.  For Nicky and Dale all of their dirty little secrets have been revealed and all that remains is for the two of them to find their way to one another in the real world as they have while Nicky was betwixt and between.  For Dale this means allowing Nicky to find the courage to forgive herself and come to him and for Nicky this means confronting those who helped get her into her horrid mess in the first place.  Nicky’s moment in the hospital when she goes off on her “friends” is by far one of the most satisfying of the novel.

The bottom line: While I wasn’t blown away by Betwixt I did enjoy the read.  I like the development of the characters and seeing two somewhat troubled and lonely kids come to grips with their respective pasts in order to find true friendship with one another.  The plot moves quickly with no major issues or questions left unresolved at the end.  I can absolutely see this story appealing to a young adult audience but it may fall a bit flat for older audiences.


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