The Between by Tananarive Due

Hello everybody! I hope you’re all doing well. I just finished this one yesterday, and it was fascinating. I picked this up for the big reading project that I’m doing; this one is for the sci-fi/horror category. It takes a minute to hit its stride, but once it’s there it’s golden. I enjoyed reading it, so I hope you enjoy this review!

The Rundown

The Between is a science fiction noveling following Hilton James, the director of a recovery center who lives in Miami. As a child, Hilton’s grandma lost her life while saving him from drowning, and since then he’s had issues with nightmares and insomnia. He thought he had the issue under control, but the sleeping problems start again at the beginning of the book after his wife (a judge in Miami) starts receiving death threats from a disgruntled former defendant. James finds himself teetering between reality and a dream-like state: The Between. The book details his battle to stay in touch with reality and to save his family’s life before it’s too late.

Length: 274 pages

Additional Sections: Prologue & Epilogue

Genre: Science fiction 

Year Published: 1995

The Good Stuff

The concept of “the between” is great. I loved the idea of multiple existences or iterations of reality, and how the author bent the idea of what reality really is. I think this book is such a great idea for a movie; it would be cool to see how the main character’s life would look in a film. Hilton has several experiences in the book that turn out to be hallucinations or dreams – when he tries to discuss the events with other people who were involved, nobody else remembers. He also experiences a few events twice with subtle changes that are just noticeable enough to make it clear that he was living the same event over again. The delicate balance between reality and imagination is brilliantly written in this book. 

Due did a fantastic job of taking the reader into the mindset of navigating “the between” and discovering more about it. I think putting it in 3rd person was a great choice. Even though a narrator was telling the story, I still felt like I was on the same mental and emotional rollercoaster that Hilton underwent throughout the book. It reminded me of Shutter Island in the way that you can’t tell if he’s going crazy or if crazy stuff just keeps happening to him, and I liked it. 

I also really enjoyed the ending of this book. I’m the type of person who doesn’t mind cliffhangers, but I love when all the questions are answered. This book doesn’t necessarily answer every question, but the story does end perfectly. The ending is alluded to pretty significantly the closer you get to it, but it’s still a surprise, and it makes other clues from earlier in the book make more sense. The grammar was also good in this book, which I always appreciate.

What I Would Change

My biggest problem with this book is that it takes so long to get to the meat and potatoes of the story. It took close to 100 pages for Hilton to start experiencing the weird dreams and the multiple realities. It took about 200 pages for things to speed up, and for “the between” to be addressed directly. For me, that was too long. Due is a great writer and I would definitely say this book was a page-turner, but it didn’t have enough action for me. This felt like more of a horror/suspense, and it took me longer to really get into it because it took so long to tell where the story was going. It definitely could’ve benefited from a faster pace. 

Overall, I think it’s a good book. Definitely worth the read. I’m interested in reading more of Due’s work after checking this out. I hope y’all like it! Let me know what you’re reading this month 🙂 

Overall Rating: 8/10


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