Within Reach: A Novel - Jessica Stevens

Dying wasn’t on seventeen-year-old Xander Hemlock’s summer to-do-list. Finding ways to spend more time with his girlfriend, Lila, was the most critical thinking he planned on doing. But that was before he found himself trapped in a realm of only darkness with thirty days to convince Lila he’s not actually dead—well, not completely, anyway.

As Xan tries to show Lila she isn't alone, she struggles to comprehend how her life has changed so completely. Six months ago her life was perfect: she was on her way to becoming a professional dancer, her parents were still married, and her boyfriend was alive. But now, with her anorexic tendencies stronger than ever, she must decide which is the lesser of two evils: letting go to be with a boy she doesn't love, or holding on to the unreasonable, yet overpowering, feeling that Xan is still within reach...and trying to show her something.

Improbable and endearing, Within Reach is a story of two soulmates discovering that sometimes it takes more than one lifetime to get it right.


I am in love with the concept of souls and angels; however, I am not in love with this book because of how the premise was pulled off.


To spoil the first chapter, Lila and Xan are perfect soul mates. Which is all fine and dandy except that their love feels entirely artificial. I get that if they have true love they don't need to have supporting evidence behind their love, but that didn't make me understand their love. It was baseless--it had been love at first sight so there was no trust or common experiences built up.


The premise went a little bit too far and was hard to understand. I felt like the first few chapters were the author explaining how the world worked but at that point I wasn't at all invested in that world and I didn't want to read a complicated backstory. Even later in the book I didn't really understand certain details, things that seemed included more for the purpose of moving the plot forward.


Having said that, Wes was my favourite character and I was disappointed that instead of hearing a lot about him he turned more into someone to move the plot forward also and to encourage certain events to happen.


I wasn't too fond of Xan, but I really abhorred Lila. Maybe I'm heartless since she was dealing with a lot, but she was the epitome of a weak female character needing saving from herself and needing to have a big male protector around at all times to keep herself whole. She was a ballet dancer, which was intriguing, but got in some car accident (I think? Details were never really given.) that resulted in her giving up her dream. But for some reason she gets a second chance? It's complicated and I didn't understand why.


I also didn't buy the friendship between Lila and Jason. I mean, maybe she does have that complex and needs a male protector. But I'm with Xan--though I could understand why she'd let him continue to hurt her, I don't understand why she saw him in such a golden light. And he also didn't seem quite insane. Irrational and jealous, yes, but to the extent that he'd commit certain actions? Meh. Speaking of which, whatever was the 'obstacle'?


I wanted this one to be really good, but it fell short of its potential.


I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.