Thursday, November 29, 2012

Becky's View: Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini

Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini
♦publisher: Simon Pulse
♦release date: October 30, 2012
♦hardcover, 352 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦source: from publisher for honest review
Experience the afterlife in this lyrical, paranormal debut novel that will send your heart soaring.When Elliot finds herself dead for the third time, she knows she must have messed up, big-time. She doesn’t remember how she landed in the afterlife again, but she knows this is her last chance to get things right.

     Elliot just wants to move on, but first she will be forced to face her past and delve into the painful memories she’d rather keep buried. Memories of people she’s hurt, people she’s betrayed…and people she’s killed.

     As she pieces together the secrets and mistakes of her past, Elliot must find a way to earn the forgiveness of the person she’s hurt most, and reveal the truth about herself to the two boys she loves…even if it means losing them both forever.

 Review: Kimberly Sabatini uses her beautiful writing style and takes full advantage of the unknown nature of the afterlife.  She gives us a completely free-range world where each individual builds the world around them to what they want or what they need, where you can see someone and get to know someone by the places they surround themselves with,  and where characters know each other by the scent and feel of their soul rather than their outward appearances.  This place is called the Obmil, where a soul goes after each death to learn what lessons they need to from the lives they've left behind through a process called "delving".   It was a fascinating concept, and Sabatini has an undeniably striking writing style.  However,  I found myself really liking parts of this, and really disliking others.

All of the characters in this book had stories and dilemmas that kept me compelled to keep reading, though to be honest, I didn't really connect with or like any of them.  The main character, Elliot, while being outspoken, strong-willed, and passionate, was a bit rash and selfish, and several times her emotional reactions to situations seemed inexplicably dramatic or over-acted.  She is hurting from being rejected by Julia, who is a sort of constant soul mate to Elliot with three lifetimes-full of history between them, but they both seemed to treat eachother with back-stabbing and petty jealousy.  Oliver and Trevor are brothers, but both before and after they know what happened to them in their lives, they are pretty spiteful toward eachother, no loyalty between them. There is a bit of a love triangle here, but I never really got into the connection between Oliver and Elliot as there was nothing behind it.  It was very instalove-y...they literally claim to be in love after the first time they see each other in the hallway and, honestly, I always found Oliver to be a bit "sappy". Elliot and Trevor start out hating eachother and are slowly pulled together by their past connection, so I enjoyed their story much more, but also disliked how easily they disregarded how Oliver and Julia might feel about it.   It isn't until the very end that we start to see these characters soften and grow and let go of some their anger and angst.

Still, whether you like the characters or not, their stories and the lessons they learn feel genuine and heartfelt and hard-earned. The delves into their earthly lives, while at times became a little repetitive, where also where I felt the most compassion for them and what they were going through.  It's a very unique story, lots of emotions flying, and a wholly original take on the concepts of the afterlife, second chances, forgiveness, and redemption.

Find Kimberly Sabatini online: Website  •  Twitter  •  Facebook

Purchase Touching the Surface:  Amazon  •  •  BookDepository  •  Indiebound


  1. I've seen this book around and have been thinking about checking it out. It looks pretty good. Great review by the way. :)

  2. I really love the cover of this book. I enjoyed the review, I think I will read this!

  3. I was on the edge about picking this up. Love that it's a unique story, but not sure how I feel about not connecting well with characters. Thanks for the review!

  4. Wow, this afterlife that the author created sounds interesting. To build the world we want and need around us sounds like Heaven. I live how you sense others souls and know them from smell. My favorite idea is to review you life and learn from it. This book sounds interesting and I like the spiritual element too it. Too bad you didn't connect with any of the characters in the story :(

  5. Touching the Surface has an interesting afterlife concept, but I'm a character-driven reader (unless there's lots of action and suspense). I might pick this up at the library if I see it.