"Rest in peace, that's what we say when we speak to the dead, and then we hold our breath and wait for them to whisper the same words back to us" (274).
It's not as if Evie and Zabet McCabe were really friends. Sure, they played together as children, but now, at 16, they would have been hard-pressed to identify each other's favorite color, food, or t.v. show. Still, when Evie sees the body of her old playmate rolled out of the woods on a stretcher, she feels something. It's not grief, exactly, more like fascination. Or maybe excitement. Being on the scene when a murder was discovered gives Evie something she can use - to reel in her classmates' attention, to start a real conversation with the guy she's been crushing on, to divert some of the drama to herself. She doesn't mean to steal Zabet's BFF, doesn't mean to befriend her grieving father, and definitely does not intend to track down a killer. But that's exactly what happens.
I'm not really sure how to describe Katie Williams' debut novel, The Space Between Trees. Although it deals with a brutal death, it's not exactly a murder mystery. More like a psychological thriller, except not totally. However difficult it is to pinpoint the book's genre, it's even harder to explain my reaction to the book. It kept me reading, but I can't say I really enjoyed it. This mostly has to do with Evie - she's emotionless, manipulative, and just, disturbed. The back cover describes her as a "quirky loner." Personally, I'd go with sociopath. Just like she can't connect with others, I never really got her. This disconnect, combined with a bleak plot, mostly unsympathetic characters, and an overall strangeness, made The Space Between Trees a weird read for me.
Williams writes well, there's no doubt about that, and her freshman effort gave me plenty of food for thought. She gets kudos for creating original, if not exactly likable, characters, who are interesting and complex. Watching the ways in which these very different people grieve - or, in Evie's case, use another's tragedy to further their own purposes - is what makes this book so compelling. And disturbing.
So, yeah. I'm still not sure quite what to think of The Space Between Trees. While the writing is solid, the rest of it really didn't do it for me. Maybe I need a more relatable narrator, maybe I need a happier story, I don't know, but I'll definitely be watching for Williams' next effort and hoping it's more my style.
If this were a movie, it would be rated: R for language, violence, sexual content and depictions of underrage drinking/drug use
To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of The Space Between Trees from the generous folks at Chronicle Books. Thank you!
Now for the fun part:Chronicle Books is giving away one signed copy of The Space Between Trees to a lucky BBB reader. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post indicating that you'd like to win the book. The contest will close on August 12 and is only open to readers in the U.S. and Canada. Good luck!