Sunday, December 8, 2013

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

* spoilers *

Violet White and her brother live by themselves in a decaying mansion by the sea. Their parents are flighty artists who have been gone for months on end. Because their money is gone, she decides to put up fliers around town for someone to rent the guest house. A mysterious and attractive stranger named River West comes to stay and chaos almost immediately ensues. Violet's best friend Sunshine sees a monster in a cave. Then a little girl goes missing and the local children are convinced it's the devil that they have to kill with wooden stakes. Violet is already completely infatuated with River even as she suspects him of creating the chaos in the town. Her grandmother warned her against the devil, but never expected him to be so charming.

The cover of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea doesn't do it justice. It looks dark, gothic, and twisted, which it is, but it's more than that. The setting is a sleepy little southern town by the sea. The atmosphere starts as relaxed, kind of like time doesn't matter and days can be spent lazing in the hot sun, drinking iced tea all day. It also has a vintage feel. The Whites don't lock their house at night and watch old movies in the town square with their neighbors, like in bygone eras. All of that changes when River comes to town. Before, people trusted their neighbors and acted friendly. Afterwards, everyone is on their guard and suspicious. The children are super creepy, running around at night with wooden stakes and attacking random people. They refused to go home at night and it was bordering on Children of the Corn with the kids attacking people.

The drastic change in the town also happens with Violet. Before River, she's carefree, trusting, and generally happy. She knows everything in her town and nothing really comes as surprising. The loss of her grandmother and the absence of her parents have affected her, but didn't make her jaded. She seems more determined to get the most out of the little things in life and has a more introspective view of life. After River, she is unhappy and suspicious. She doesn't know what to believe or even if her own feelings are authentic. I found Violet to be likeable until the end, but a bit on the naive, immature side. I liked the way she observed the small thing swithin the people and the world around her. Her falling in love with River was very instalove-y, but it is later shown to be intentional.

My big problem with the novel is River. His personality is fine. He's charming and he's got that rich boy attitude that everything is attainable. He has the power to create illusions and make people do what he wants through touch. He reminds me very much of Loki from the Thor films, creating chaos and causing death wherever he goes. Anyway, he constantly touches Violet and this shows why she becomes so very infatuated with him in such a short amount of time. He basically made her fall in love with him with his power, which is so not ok. Then he goes on to almost rape her in her sleep. This is besides the fact that he forces the town drunk to commit suicide in front of the whole town and he feels absolutely no remorse for it. After that point, he ceases to be even remotely attractive to me with his rapey, murderous, creepy ways. Violet and River's whole relationship reminds me of a woman that loves an abusive man, but can't leave him because she loves him. That's just not a healthy relationship and it makes me feel gross to read it. Ugh.

Although I liked the writing and the setting, River and Violet's attitude towards him ruined the novel for me. I'm ok with bad boys in literature, but there has to be something redeemable about them. The murder and mind rape just make him an awful character that I don't want to read about. I lose respect for Violet for being obsessed with him even after she knows all these horrible things about him. I guess it could just be River's power, but it looks like just another girl trapped in an abusive relationship.

My rating: 2/5 fishmuffins

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