Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Christie's review: Ten Below Zero by Whitney Barbetti


Title: Ten Below Zero
Series: Standalone
Author: Whitney Barbetti
Release Date: August 28, 2014
Rating:5 stars
Cliffhanger: No

“In here,” he said, pushing on the skin above my heart, “you're ten below zero. And you’re closer to death than I am.”

My name is Parker. My body is marked with scars from an attack I don’t remember. I don’t want to remember. I choose to live my life by observation, not through experience. While people are laughing and kissing and connecting, I’m in the corner. Watching them live. I’m indifferent to everything, everyone. The only emotion I feel with any kind of depth is annoyance, and I feel it often.

A text message sent to the wrong number proves to be my undoing.

His name is Everett, but I call him rude. He’s pushy, he’s arrogant, he crowds my personal space, and worst of all: he makes me feel.

He chooses to wear all black, all the time, as if he’s waiting to attend a funeral. Probably because he is.

Everett is dying. And he’s spending his final days living, truly living. In doing so, he’s forcing me to feel, to heal. To come face to face with the demons I suppressed in my memory.

He hurts me, he fulfills me, he completes me. And still, he's dying.

To be perfectly honest, I was a little apprehensive going into this book. I knew that (judging by the synopsis) the potential was there for going through an emotional battle and I wasn’t sure if I would win the war. And with no guarantee of a Happily Ever After…I was jittery. Ok, I was scared. But what really pulled me to this story was the fact that it sounded so different from what I usually read. And here's one thing I know. Different is good.

If you would have told me that I was going to rate this book 5 stars when I was in the first part of the book I don't think I would have believed you. It wasn't the writing itself-as in her debut novel, Whitney has a style of writing that I'm drawn to. It's thought provoking and eloquent. No, my difficulty was the characters. The heroine is called Ten Below Zero for a reason.

Words could bite. When I spoke to strangers, I wanted my words to have fangs.

She's not a very likable person. And he's not much better. One is cold hearted and the other is just hardened. Both rude, blunt, and no sorry a bit about it. But what you have to realize about these characters is they're like an abstract painting. Stand too close, and you see one big mess. But when you stand back and get the bigger picture, you see what it was meant to be.

One is unable to truly live.

Parker is stuck. Numb. Frozen. Unable to experience emotion past indifference or annoyance.

My brain swam in Novocain. I walked through life, straying from potentially dangerous situations.

She's an observer of her own life and everyone else's and can't bring herself to care. As shocking as her physical scars are, her emotional ones are overwhelmingly sad. What she went through and survived is something no one should have to experience. So she avoids conflict and danger at all costs to preserve her safe numbness.

One is just waiting to die

Everett is Rude, blunt, and living with a death sentence. He's when he and Parker meet, he sees someone like him. Someone who's honest but hurting. She's lashing out, but she's not fooling him. He can see deep down into her. And more than that, he wants to see her.

As the story progresses, you see them both thawing and changing. They see past each other's scars-the ones you see and the ones you can't. And the more time they spend together, the closer they come to really experiencing happiness. I started rooting for this couple to fight past their circumstances and make everything okay. But would they find their forever together? Or would she be left just with memories?

This book came rushing up on me in the last half like a tidal wave. The characters were flawed yet there was a a beauty in their struggle to grasp life in all it's possibilities and begin to hope. I'm not going to tell you how this ends. If you know beforehand, you won't experience the same impact that you could have had. I will say that the last 10% of the book was absolutely, positively, nerve-wracking, suspenseful, and I couldn't have imagined it ending in a more perfect way. Down to the last sentence! Everything came together in a way that was so beautiful to me. I can't get over how this book touched me-it wasn't just a book that you read and set aside never to give it a second thought again. It's one that you can come back to-one that you want to come back to. As much as I loved He Found Me, there was something preventing me from giving it a full 5 stars. But this book had that missing piece to me. The emotion it drags from you, the feeling you have after turning the last page tells me that it's 5 star worthy.


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