Photo Credit to Pantera Press
I want to start by saying that I am in no way paid, endorsed or was offered any kind of compensation in lieu of this review.
Secondly, I will freely admit. I am a lover of Sulari’s work. I have a review for The Hero Trilogy on my computer waiting to be posted, but between work, school and issues with WordPress it hasn’t happened. I am yet to read the Roland Sinclair series, but they are on my to read list.
From the moment, she posted the cover reveal for Crossing the Lines, I knew I wanted to read it. Honest to God, the stark white background with the black offsetting text had me. It was simple and beautiful. Then I ordered it. Well, tried. Turns out there was a miscommunication on how to spell her name. Which lead to her book not being found. But all’s well that ends well. I did get my book. A lovely black covered book so vastly different to the Australian release. HAHA turns out I got the US version. But that’s ok. I still loved it. And I still love looking at it. It’s so pretty and captivating. Yet still has that simplistic approach that dragged me into the Australian cover. And yet, I think the US cover speaks so much more about the soul of the soul and where it leads.
Now onto the book…
Holy crap on a cracker! I spent seven glorious hours reading. I couldn’t put it down. I couldn’t step away. I had to know what was happening. I may have forgotten to cook dinner. Ignored my husband who was trying to spend some time with me after a long few weeks of study, work and illness. I may have eaten half what I normally would, jumped up from the kitchen table and flew back into the living room to continue reading. Leaving my husband to parent the kids and organise them for bed. I told my 6 year old we weren’t reading The Magic Faraway Tree tonight, because I was busy and I can’t say I remember saying goodnight to anyone. The book had hold of me. And it wasn’t letting go.
Like all readers, like all writers, I can become obsessive. I can become so engrossed in my work that nothing else matters. But never do I become that obsessive I forget to parent. All I can say is ‘Sorry kids. My bad.” But let’s face it. I’m not sorry at all. The idea and basis of the story – a writer who is writing her character’s story, who in turn is writing his author’s story and their worlds become entangled – is different. As hubby said, “It sounds confusing.” And it does. But to read it, not so much. It is enthralling, fascinating and captivating.
I can’t compare it to anything else I’ve read. I think the closest I can come is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. The sheer brilliance of story writing and execution places Crossing the Lines in a category all of its own. It sits as one of those stories that you never forget. One that you offer up to anyone, regardless of their genre preference as a work of art, that will leave you questioning why writing hadn’t been taken to this level before. One that stands out on its own and becomes a household name because nothing out there will ever be able to compete. It is and will always be a leader in psychological literature that will be spoken about among coming generations. And would be a worthwhile novel for literature studies within high school/college/university English classes. If only because it pushes the boundaries of the written word and how a story can be told.
As I began to read, I was surprised and a bit confused about the switching between perspectives. There wasn’t always a page break, chapter or anything to define it. But it paid off, the way in which Sulari developed the story, blurring the lines as it progressed rolling it all together so it basically became one was just amazing. I found myself relating closely Madeline. A panster writer who lets her characters tell the story. Someone who sits back and “watches” as the story plays out in her mind. Typing out what she sees. Never having any idea who did it or what will happen, until that vital moment when it’s revealed. The writer who is as much of a reader as they are a transcriber. One who gets heavily invested in their story.
I laughed, cos let’s be honest; I do that…and that… and that…and… I definitely don’t do that. Madeline’s relationship with her character reached levels that made me question if I had misunderstood the storyline. At times, I found myself wondering if Edward was real. Was there going to be some kind of twist at the end. Is she going to discover they are tied together somehow, both human, both seeking out the other? Did I get it wrong? Was Edward “real”? Was Maddie a character? No it couldn’t be, he’d just appeared in her bedroom. Holy crap, what was happening? Jesus Christ, it’s almost 9pm I needed more coffee. I was torn between needing sleep and having to know what the hell was happening. The characters won.
By the time I was finished I was questioning my own sanity. And the sanity of many, many writers I know. How involved is too involved? How many times have we blurred the lines to try and understand the character better? How many times have we come to realise we have written ourselves into our stories, even small fragments that end up shaping the book in some way. Letting out emotions unintentionally tell the story. We’re angry, they’re angry. We’re feeling trapped and betrayed, so are our characters. Three hours after I finished, all I could think of was wanting to message Sulari and claim she was an evil woman. Especially given the turn of events at home that evening. I can’t remember the last time I became so mentally obsessed after a book finished.
Oh no, wait… yes I do. I seriously need to know where the Herdsmen settled and what happened to them… We won’t discuss The Hero Trilogy x Outlander x Game of Thrones dreams I’ve had over that issue. FYI I gave myself some awesome answers. Unresolved issues seems to be a theme with this author. Only this time it wasn’t with the plot. It was with my own sanity.
I became immersed in the fast paced ending, the way in which the lines blurred and Maddie’s perception on reality escalated, that when I finished the book – which ended in a gaping, wide eyed “holy crap” gasp as I looked to hubby. He responded with something, but honestly I don’t know what it was – it was like coming down of some kind of exhilarating high. My mind spun, my heart race and I was still going well into the night. This sense of light headed giddiness that you face as you come back down to earth took me over. I felt like I had been absorbed for days, with little food and water. And yet, it was only seven hours. Even now. I can’t even begin to fathom just how much this book has suckered me in. I have so many people I want to run it over to and say, read this! Now! Here I’ll take you kids. I’ll go fill in a work. You sit here and read this! There won’t be any regrets.
Well… maybe not for my non-author friends. My writer friends may start with some personal questions about their own character involvement.
As a mother, I can safely say my kids can read it. Yes, there’s mention of sex. But it is implied, mentioned and the focus shifted elsewhere. It was refreshing to read a book what didn’t have detailed sex scenes that left me disappointed because I knew my teens would enjoy it but couldn’t read it as a result of half a page or more giving detailed descriptions on every stage of sexual intimacy. Sulari kept the focus on the story line, on the parts we needed to know. She didn’t allow for sex to be used as a filler which has just added to my love of the book. As it has now made this series suitable for pretty much everyone.
It is well worth the read. I cannot recommend this enough. I love books that leave you questioning things, society, life, rules, books that give more than just a story. Ones which enhance, embrace and encourage critical thinking and looking outside the square. And this book does that. I give it 5 quills/ stars. No hesitation, no debating. Straight up five.
You can read more about the author on her website Sulari Gentill. Find her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. You can purchase her books through Pantera Press here in Australia, and Crossing the Lines can be purchased in the US through Poisoned Pen Press. It can also be purchased through your local bookstore, but you may have to order it in.