- Title: The Line Between
- Author: Tosca Lee
- Series: None
- Genre: Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense
- Publishing Date: January 29th, 2019
- Publishing Co.: Howard Books
- Length: 384 pages
- Format: Kindle, Audiobook, Paperback, Hardback
- Acquired: Given free PDF in exchange for an honest review
- Amazon Link: The Line Between
When Wynter Roth is turned out of New Earth, a self-contained doomsday cult on the American prairie, she emerges into a world poised on the brink of madness as a mysterious outbreak of rapid early onset dementia spreads across the nation.
As Wynter struggles to start over in a world she’s been taught to regard as evil, she finds herself face-to-face with the apocalypse she’s feared all her life—until the night her sister shows up at her doorstep with a set of medical samples. That night, Wynter learns there’s something far more sinister at play and that these samples are key to understanding the disease.
Now, as the power grid fails and the nation descends into chaos, Wynter must find a way to get the samples to a lab in Colorado. Uncertain who to trust, she takes up with former military man Chase Miller, who has his own reasons for wanting to get close to the samples in her possession, and to Wynter herself.
First Chapter Challenge: 10 pages (including prologue)
The prologue shows a farmer and his pigs, but something goes wrong when his bore rips apart his prized sow and her piglets. Already, I am getting a sense of suspense and mystery, wondering what happened to make this pig go crazy.
In the first chapter, we see Wynter Roth, our main character, get cast out of New Earth, the religious cult she has known for most of her life. As she passes by Magnus, God’s mouthpiece, she realizes that she hates him.
The first chapter (and the prologue) set a stage of mystery and emotional turmoil that I hope continues throughout the novel. My interest has been piqued, and the concise–yet still very descriptive–writing style adds a bit of flavor to the book that allows its story to flow quite nicely so far.
Final Judgment: 5 Stars out of 5
The Line Between depicts a 24-year-old Wynter Roth attempting to live life after she has been cast out of her religious cult, New Earth. The novel oscillates between the present where Wynter is staying with her mother’s best friend Julie, and the past where we get to glimpse parts of her life within the walls of New Earth. As the past finally catches up to the present, Wynter’s life suddenly takes a nosedive as an outbreak of contagious early-onset dementia floods the world. Wynter must battle both the contagion as well as her paranoia–as inside her head, Magnus’ voice preaches his Testament and condemns the pleasures of the outside world–if she is to survive and bring an end to the pandemic.
Conventional wisdom dictates that there’s an insurmountable divide–an entire dimension of eternity and space–between Heaven and Hell.
But I can tell you it’s closer to a foot and a half. The distance of a step.
Or a leap of faith (pg 342).
With Wynter’s past in the cult intermingled with her entrance into the outside world in Julie’s care, author Tosca Lee continually keeps the reader on edge, unsure of how Wynter got to where she is now. The beginning of the book starts with Wynter being cast out… But how does this happen? Her past shows her as a (mostly) obedient member of New Earth, believing wholeheartedly in their leader Magnus. We readers are kept in suspense for almost the entire beginning half o the novel before we understand how–and why–Wynter was cast out. And just as this mystery is solved, another pops up in its place; the sickness. There is never a dull moment in this novel, as Lee unfailingly has new mysteries and tragic events befall the main characters at every turn. Just when we think there may be a happy ending, something throws our beloved characters off of their path. I honestly could not put this book down! I read it in two sittings, only quitting the first time at 3am (I had to be at work at 6am!).
Not only does Lee play with the past and present, but she also adds an aspect of technology as well, by embedding website pages every so often: Advertisement pages publicizing New Earth or the farmer’s meat products, news articles depicting the fatality stats, and more. It was an interesting concept, which I came to really appreciate. In our new advanced age, we are so familiar with websites and the internet that we know how much information can be conveyed on just one page. Information which would bore us readers in any other format. So not only did it allow me to understand a vast amount of information quickly and easily, but it also helped me feel closer to the characters. Being able to read exactly what they would be exposed to forged a connection between us that I have not had before in any other novel.
“You know, the thing no one tells you about saving the world is that there’s such a letdown afterward. I’m gonna need something to do.”
“What happened to fishing?” I ask between labored breaths.
“Wynter. It’s common knowledge that one should never ice fish after saving the world.” (pg 275).
Additionally, while on the subject of characters and my relationship with the characters, having multiple point of views, though with Wynter’s being the foremost, Lee also allowed us a glimpse into specific characters’ minds. Normally, I prefer to have a variety of POVs, each about as equal in length as possible. However, I really appreciated Lee’s approach, where we saw mainly Wynter’s, developing a pure connection with her, and then simply glimpsing part of other important characters. I think it impacted the plot and my emotions positively, and further enhanced the reading.
Having my B.S. in Psychology and after previously completing the pre-medical tract in college, I also very much appreciated the very real–rooted in concrete data–medical side of the book. Many Apocalyptic/post-Apocalyptic novels show their lack of knowledge of the medical field and the human body through their methods of contagion and other sources of the apocalypse. But The Line Between is actually based in truth. At the end of the novel, the Author’s Note talks about how it is true that Global Warming is causing the permafrost to melt, thus revealing ancient bacteria to our race for the first time. Prions are real, and it is true that even now we still do not quite understand them or how to prevent them from harming us. Now, although the effects of these bacteria/prions are purely a work of fiction in the novel, it is possible (if not very likely) that something like this could occur. Even some of the events that occur in the book are pulled directly from our own real news.
“You ever hear the story of the guy stranded on his roof during a flood praying for God to save him?…”
“Guy’s stranded on his roof and when a rowboat, a motorboat, and finally a helicopter come by telling him to get in, he tells them to go because God’s going to save him. And then he drowns…”
“When he gets to Heaven he asks God, ‘Why didn’t you save me?’ And God says, ‘I sent you two boats and a helicopter–what more did you want?'” (pg 257)
I can say with absolute certainty that I will be checking out more of Tosca Lee’s novels. If any of them even come close to this one, it will be a great buy! Psychological thriller; mystery and suspense; romance; humor; apocalyptic events; gut-wrenching emotion… This novel had practically anything and everything I could want from a book!