What Readers are Saying about The Between State
RATING: 3.9 stars (out of 5)
THE BETWEEN STATE is a work of science fiction that follows two strangers who defy time and sense by communicating through lucid dreams.
Joseph A White Jr wraps his tale THE BETWEEN STATE around a fascinating concept, for which he conducted substantial research. The titular “between state” is presented as the stage between REM sleep and wakefulness, which happens to facilitate lucid dreaming. Memorably, it also leads the dreamer to question not only the tangibility of his world, but the soundness of his mind. This phenomenon ignites Jeff’s impulse to analyze every thread of his subconscious, giving its shapeless fabric a reluctant form. In the end, this effort leaves him documenting every minute detail of the intimacy that is imposed on him. And while Jeff’s meticulousness can feel a little overbearing at times, it gives his presence enough gravity to then challenge its mark on another’s existence.
Both Jeff and Mindi are fully fleshed-out characters with a voice and a set of motivations to call their own. And while they recycle their confusion and hostility to a maddening degree, this weakness screams of their humanity which is further heightened by the author’s dive into themes of mental disorders and childhood trauma. While never fully explored , the issues prove sober enough to incite both empathy and interest. The encounters themselves merge two different timelines, resembling the premise of the 2006 movie “The Lake House”. Mindi is communicating from the year 2015, and Jeff is living in 2017. While the time difference grows progressively smaller, the initial duality of their experiences allows them to revisit the life of a man who exists only at one end of the timeline. Although he serves as the point of contact between their two orbits, his presence functions primarily as a springboard for various reflections on ethics and the time travel paradox.
The friendship between Jeff and Mindi is undoubtedly the backbone of the novel’s narrative. Genuine enough to withstand the test of a slow build-up, as well as the central conflict between the empirical and the theoretical, it nevertheless flirts with an attraction that sows hope in the hearts of these two kind-natured adults. Overall, though the story doesn’t boast major plot twists or truly nefarious forces, it heralds a gratifying exploration of its potential in the sequel.
IR Verdict: Full of heart, Joseph A White Jr’s THE BETWEEN STATE celebrates friendship, love, communication, and genuine respect for the unknown as a peculiar mystery unfolds.