White Space  - Ilsa J. Bick I received this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

This is probably the hardest book review I've written in...ever. I loved the book, but there are some parts I don't like about it. I will tag all of my major spoilers, so no worries.

I've also never been one of the first book reviews for something, so I feel like pressure is on. So, if you can deal with me, this will be a rather tangled mess of a review because the book was a rather tangled mess. In a very good way.

I'm flopping between a 4 star rating and a 4.5 star rating. But then sometimes I go to 3.5 because I can't make up my mind.

So White Space is a trippy novel. You follow many characters, but Emma's our main one. Emma suffers from what she calls "blinks." These blinks means she zones out, anytime, anywhere, and imagines a different person's life. Lately, during her blinks, she's following Lizzie McDermott, the daughter of Frank McDermott, a very famous author.

Well, Frank McDermott has been messing around in the Dark Passages. Which is not a good thing. Essentially, his writing is just pulling things from the Dark Passages onto White Space, a space where characters and creatures from the Dark Passages can sort of live. He uses the Dark Passages to travel to different Nows to find different stories. Nows are essentially alternate universes.

Following me so far?

So Frank McDermott has been traveling way too much in the Dark Passages and gets addicted to it, essentially. So he fucks up. Big time.

But Emma is still traveling up a mountain during that blink. A mountain which actually ought not to be there. In this mountain she meets up with our other characters, Rima, Casey, Eric, Tony, Bode, and Chad. (I might be forgetting someone)

All together they decide something's not quite right with this mountain, the storm, and definitely the fog. And decide to investigate and find a way to get the fuck away from the creepy mountain/storm/definitely creepy ass fog.

Then some creepy, Kingdom Hearts Heartless type things come around and things go to hell.

They're like these guys, only way more heartless and skin rippy offy.

You with me so far? That's the basic premise, but needless to say it gets a lot more awesomer.

In short, I loved this book. However, and note this big however, it will not be for everyone. So let's start out by doing a quick little survey.

Do you mind frequent POV switches?
Do you mind being tossed into a world with little to no explanation at first?
Do you mind gore?
Do you mind waiting a very long time for a very good payoff?
Do you mind being confused a majority of 500 some-odd pages?

Did you answer no to all the above questions? CONGRATS! Go read this fucking book. Because it's seriously good.

I know a lot of the questions all seem like detriments, and for a very long time in the book, some of them are. In fact, I would say that yes, multiple POVs bother me, and I dislike being asked to swim in the middle of an ocean without a life boat nearby, which is what this book does with world building.

But everything is so fascinating! The entire time I was reading it I was like

Creepy ass Heartless (They aren't really Heartless, but I can't imagine them otherwise) pop up and rip someone's skin around their eyes off so you're just left with sockets and it's gross and awesome.

The entire time you're trying to figure out what the fuck is going on. Who are these people? Why did they all meet on the mountain? Some of them have special abilities, like Rima's able to sense death and see crows that mean someone's about to die.

And you know something's wrong, obviously. The mountain and fog are hiding something from them, pushing them towards something. When they get there, when Emma actually gets to the place the fog is pushing her, it is a barn that's really only half formed.

But once the world building starts, once you start getting answers, it's like everything starts to come together in this beautiful mosaic of awesome and convoluted-ness and questioning what reality is. There's a lot of philosophical sophism here and what defines reality and people and yeah.

Lizzie is my favorite character. I guess? She's strong for her age and does a remarkable thing of keeping it hidden. She sees the destruction in her father and proactively decides she needs to learn to defend herself against it.

I actually like Rima second best, but that may just be because of all her abilities and again, the strength to push on for friends.

But that's all I can say for the characters. This was a plot driven by characters or character, depending on how you see it but mostly by the world building. The world was this constantly changing mess that propelled the characters on this path.

I'm really upset that I can't say more without spoiling the entire book.

This book exists solely for the payoff at the end. If you can't bear through the first seventy percent of the book, swimming in the deep ocean, then this may not be the book for you. But I promise, the payoff is awesome.

I even guessed some of the ending and it was still enough to keep me flipping through pages at work at risk of being caught and fired.

The writing was very solid, and the author did not skimp on the gore. She talked about red fleshy meat while cutting someone's throat and black tendrils eating someone from the inside and burning them alive.



And now let's discuss my nitpickiness. As some of you may know, I'm an asshole reader. What I mean by this is that it does not take a lot to turn me off something. I've put books down before because of one cheesy sentence.

Obviously, I nitpick. But here are some of the larger problems I found.

First, did I mention the POV thing? Because it switches rapidly. Some chracters only get four paragraphs and then we're jumping. Other times, the POV is going to switch mid-sentence. I know it's done for dramatic affect, but it felt cheap.

But, the author does let you know whose POV you're in by placing their name at the top of the section, so that's awesomely helpful.

Second, did you read the synopsis on Goodreads? That one right up there that says it's a mixture of Inkheart and The Matrix? Well, the author is also going to tell you that this world is a lot like The Matrix. A LOT. Let's prove my point with a few excerpts.

Some loopy Matrix meets Inkheart-with-a-vengeance crap like that.

"It's not like Morpheus is going to show up and give you a choice between red and blue."

This was a nightmare, like Neo at the mirror, after he'd swallowed the red pill. Stop, I want the blue pill, she thought, crazily as she kept pushing.

"This isn't The Matrix. I'm not Neo."

That's only some of them. There's more. I understand that the author is a huge film buff, but this sort of allusion doesn't add to the world building, it detracts from it. She's got an awesome world here, it stands on its own. It comes off as weak writing, like she's using the mentions as a crutch, instead of a reference.

Speaking of weak writing, if the phrase "You nut" does not have a purpose in the next book, I'm going to be pissed. According to my Kindle, it occurs THIRTEEN times. Emma's always saying it to herself, and I sort of hate it. Immensely.

A few other things I'm hoping get cleared up, and please note the following is mildly spoilery, so in this book that means MAJOR spoilers. I'm still unclear on the Dickens Mirror. Also what's up with Arthur Conan Doyle? If Battle was written, who wrote him? Why can't Lizzie make infinite Nows?

Regardless, this book is extremely ambitious and handles it all very well. I wish I could say more, but I can't spoil it. This book is all about the surprises and the payoff.

I recommend this book, but I understand that this book is not for everyone. If you don't appreciate trying to find out what a world is all about, you won't like this book. If you can't wait for a payoff, you won't like this book. If you hate being confused for a majority of the book, you won't like this book.

But if you like mystery and horror, then this is an awesome book.

But I'm not kidding when I say my face looked like this the entire way through.