It’s easy to enjoy a book that offers racial diversity within a cast of interesting, likeable, somewhat mysterious and sometimes imperfect characters who have room to grow. BETWEEN LIGHT AND DARK by Rian McMurtry opens with young Angela Fujimori, a freshman whose life revolves around activities such as being on her school’s JV football team, being positively acknowledged by Coach Nguyen. An anime-type cover features this high schooler and youthful friends, while simple, straight-forward language, as well as the novel’s brevity, makes the book seem most appropriate for adolescent readers, though the story itself is in many ways unique enough that adult readers who gravitate towards magic/the paranormal and/or YA fiction may also find pleasure in it. Particularly well-done is the potential romance between Angela and a boy named Seth Dupree, whom at first she takes to be just the creepy goth stalker dude that groped her at the scene of an accident.
As the novel progresses, Seth does turn out to be somewhat bizarre and dark, saying things like: “Death is my domain.” Certainly he is nothing like his handsome 14-year-old friend Alex Menendez. All the girls, including Angela, are secretly swooning over Alex’s shiny black hair, buff body, and captivating smile. While this type of storyline is pretty standard almost stereotypical Young Adult fare, it isn’t long before the plot takes a welcome turn towards being less predictable, eventually delving into scenes of telepathic communication, a black/green underwater creature on the attack, etc. In terms of flaws, one main problem with this diversely populated novel is that its characters’ cultural and racial differences seem to be mainly indicated by how they look along with their last names. A real sense of who these people intrinsically are within the lineages of their specific families and subtle hints regarding cultural aspects that might be present within at least older family members of even the most Americanized Asian-Americans, for example, is generally absent. Additionally, for a novel that features pubescent characters for which the drama initially seems quite mild, dropping suddenly into murder scenes of high school girls bloodily staked to walls and headless corpses is jarring in a way some readers may like, while others may find it unappealing/distasteful. Standard e-book aspects including a hyperlinked Table of Contents and Author Bio are also conspicuously missing.
The girls are strong and smart in Rian McMurtry’s BETWEEN LIGHT AND DARK, and the overall plot is unusual, though some younger readers may find the more dramatic scenes over-the-top.
~C.S. Holmes for IndieReader