White Space - Ilsa J. Bick 1.5
Goodreads ratings are going to drive me insane one of these days. Many times there have been books that I give one or two stars to and it seems wrong somehow. Because I don't mean "this book is terrible" or "stay away from this", I mean "I didn't like it" or "it wasn't my thing". And that's a bit like how I feel about [b:White Space|13449631|White Space (Dark Passages, #1)|Ilsa J. Bick|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1370991460s/13449631.jpg|18970835]. I feel my rating doesn't say what needs to be said. I also think this book is going to be a real mind-blowing favourite in the hands of the right reader, but I know that myself (and quite a lot of other people I know on goodreads) won't be that right reader. This is my first read by Bick so I can't compare it to the author's other work, but I will say that it's a complex, densely-written mindfuck.

I'm going to try to give you some idea of where I stand when it comes to complex sci-fi so you can see if we're likely to think the same. [b:White Space|13449631|White Space (Dark Passages, #1)|Ilsa J. Bick|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1370991460s/13449631.jpg|18970835] is compared to The Matrix - a movie which I like a lot - but if you found the concept in The Matrix even vaguely complex, you might feel the neurons in your brain starting to explode while reading [b:White Space|13449631|White Space (Dark Passages, #1)|Ilsa J. Bick|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1370991460s/13449631.jpg|18970835]. Plus, if you ask me, The Matrix is mentioned far too many times in this book; it felt like the author was trying to convince us of the similarities and it didn't work for me. Though I think what makes [b:White Space|13449631|White Space (Dark Passages, #1)|Ilsa J. Bick|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1370991460s/13449631.jpg|18970835] even harder to struggle through (and struggle through I did), is not simply the complexity of the story, but the fact that the majority of these 560 pages keeps you completely in the dark. There's only so much not knowing that I can take before I lose interest and no longer care. When you don't know what's going on for many pages of a book, I suppose it can go two ways: either your need-to-know is strong enough to keep you reading (as it was for me in [b:Charm & Strange|16045088|Charm & Strange|Stephanie Kuehn|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1363712741s/16045088.jpg|19056527]) or your lack of understanding leads to a lack of caring. As it was here.

The truth is, the idea behind this story is fantastic. It's mainly about a seventeen year old girl called Emma who experiences "blinks". During these blinks, she zones out and finds herself viewing the life of someone else. One of these other lives is the life of Lizzie McDermott who is the daughter of a famous author - Frank McDermott. Frank has been meddling where he shouldn't, using the Dark Passages to travel to what are essentially alternate universes and dragging things from the Dark Passages onto White Space. I'd like to say this makes a lot more sense when you read the book, but that might be something of a lie. Anyway, Frank has become addicted to the Dark Passages and this is, to put it lightly, a very bad thing.

Sounds really unique and imaginative, right? Oh, it is. But the cool idea and the interesting payoff in the end didn't make up for nearly 600 pages of dense writing and boredom. The way it was written made the book feel twice the length it was, even forcing me to re-read passages in order to understand what was going on. The constant changing of POVs also meant I struggled to feel a single connection to any character. I felt like I was trying to watch and understand something moving at 200mph but I couldn't make sense of it. New POVs came whizzing in from nowhere and transported me to another equally confusing part of the story. This may be the first time I've used the words "couldn't put it down" as a negative because I literally couldn't put it down if I wanted to carry on understanding what was happening. Every time real life demanded my attention, I'd return and have to skim read the previous chapter to work out where the hell I was in the story (and this is coming from someone who regularly reads 3 or 4 books at once with ease).

There's some fantastic philosophical questioning going on here when you get into the story and I really do LOVE the idea of it. Bick makes us question the nature of reality and that would normally have me freaking out with happiness. But it's too dense, too all over the place, too many POV changes... the result, for me, was less brilliance and more of a mess. I think readers' opinions will be seriously divided on this one. I read a positive review that said: "This book exists solely for the payoff at the end" which couldn't be more accurate. Maybe that statement will help you decide whether this one is for you or not.