Books Young Adult Fiction Touching the Surface

Touching the Surface Featured

http://www.yabookscentral.com/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x275s/6f/12/ae/_touching-the-surface-1342900844.jpg
 
5.0 (2)
 
5.0 (2)
1316   2
Publisher
Genre(s)
Age Range
12+
Release Date
October 30, 2012
ISBN
978-1442440029
Buy This Book
      

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.

Editor reviews

Average editor rating from: 2 user(s)

Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0  (2)
Characters 
 
5.0  (2)
Writing Style 
 
5.0  (2)

One of my very favorite subgenres of fiction deals with stories about the afterlife. I spend a rather indecent amount of time considering what life after death might consist of and my only completed work of fiction dealt with that topic. Touching the Surface has been on my radar because of its subject matter, its beautiful cover (which looks like the work of my friend Annie and fits the book perfectly), and the author's participation in the Apocalypsies. As ever when embarking upon a book with high hopes, I dreaded disappointment, but instead found a beautiful, quirky, emotional, clever, sweet, dark, magical read.

Sabatini's vision of the afterlife enthralled my imagination completely. She combines familiar concepts into something fresh and compelling. The concept of reincarnation has always called to me far more than most religious ideas, so I loved that Sabatini included that. She also put her own spin on it with the idea that, on a soul's third failure to reach some sort of enlightenment and whatever next step that brings, the soul's memories are wiped. This forces delving, a slow recapturing of the previous life's memories that allows for deeper reflection and analysis, removing preconceptions and errors kept in ordinary memory. Delving is also a group experience, not just a personal one, so that others can try to help the Third Timers figure out what has kept them from moving on.

Another fascinating element of this is the bodiless nature of the characters. They are all technically embodied throughout the book, but they have not always worn that body. In her first life, Elliot and her best friend Julia were twin brothers named Arty and Jim. The souls simply continue to wear the body and use the name of their last life until they reenter the stream to a new one. The souls can idenitfy one another by their scent that remains constant from body to body. Though she occasionally comments on appearances, the personality obviously factors in much more in how others seem to her.

The other main delightful quirk about the afterlife is the ability to manifest the mind's landscape physically. Thoughts can be created, from a lake to a mountain to a book the soul wants to read. Within the Obmil, this afterlife, the body cannot be injured and seems to have so much power. Not gonna lie, I would want to stay there and would try to get my friends to stay too. Of course, when you have a bad day, you literally will be stuck in a storm cloud of your own devising, but that's a small price to pay for the perks.

Alright, now that I'm done fangirling over the world building, I should probably discuss the plot a bit, shouldn't I? At the outset, I was a bit concerned that the book was heading for a stereotypical romance plot line: a rift between two best friends, a beautiful boy she feels inextricably drawn to (Oliver), a hot, angry boy who also seems to be part of her past (Trevor), and a love square between the four. Thankfully, this got cleared up pretty quickly and the characters did what was right for them, rather than conforming to tropes. Though the emotions become intense alarmingly quickly, it helped set the scene and conveyed the confusion Elliot felt being confronted with people who remembered her that she could not yet recall.

Elliot is a great character. She doesn't kick butt. She's sometimes weak. She's selfish, and sometimes a bully. All of that makes her who she is, and, even at her worst, I still felt for her and got her motivations. She manages to feel utterly real, especially in her struggle to find a sense of self, and her blithe unawareness of how she can steamroll others. Elliot wants to move on, hates having come back as a Third Timer, but she fears delving into her memories. Obviously, death in one's teen years doesn't signify a happy story.

The book alternates between the fantasy lanscape of Obmil and flashbacks to the characters' memories of their previous lives. This allows Sabatini to confront both gritty real life issues and psychological struggles. The flashbacks also explain why the characters feel the way they do about one another in the beginning, often for reasons even they don't know. This storytelling method adds a lot of tension to the tale and kept me flipping pages.

I dearly love Trevor. Oliver may be the nice one, though he shows some darker moods too (which I like), but I always have been drawn to the moody ones. Watching Trevor open up is delightful and he definitely puts hummingbirds in my stomach, let me tell you. What I love best is the way he changes the slogan on his t-shirt to match his emotions, generally with a sarcastic comment.

Ending books about the afterlife is generally pretty tricky, more so than with other genres perhaps. Sabatini's ending worked perfectly, I felt. I didn't anticipate quite the direction it would go in, and I really appreciated that. Nothing's wrapped up exactly, but it feels complete.

Kimberly Sabatini's debut blew me away and I know Touching the Surface is a book that I will be rereading. For a book with similar themes that does some wholly different things, check out Level 2 by fellow Apocalypsie Lenore Appelhans.
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Christina Franke, Editor Reviewed by Christina Franke, Editor October 24, 2012
Last updated: October 24, 2012
Top 10 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (608)

Utterly Enchanting

One of my very favorite subgenres of fiction deals with stories about the afterlife. I spend a rather indecent amount of time considering what life after death might consist of and my only completed work of fiction dealt with that topic. Touching the Surface has been on my radar because of its subject matter, its beautiful cover (which looks like the work of my friend Annie and fits the book perfectly), and the author's participation in the Apocalypsies. As ever when embarking upon a book with high hopes, I dreaded disappointment, but instead found a beautiful, quirky, emotional, clever, sweet, dark, magical read.

Sabatini's vision of the afterlife enthralled my imagination completely. She combines familiar concepts into something fresh and compelling. The concept of reincarnation has always called to me far more than most religious ideas, so I loved that Sabatini included that. She also put her own spin on it with the idea that, on a soul's third failure to reach some sort of enlightenment and whatever next step that brings, the soul's memories are wiped. This forces delving, a slow recapturing of the previous life's memories that allows for deeper reflection and analysis, removing preconceptions and errors kept in ordinary memory. Delving is also a group experience, not just a personal one, so that others can try to help the Third Timers figure out what has kept them from moving on.

Another fascinating element of this is the bodiless nature of the characters. They are all technically embodied throughout the book, but they have not always worn that body. In her first life, Elliot and her best friend Julia were twin brothers named Arty and Jim. The souls simply continue to wear the body and use the name of their last life until they reenter the stream to a new one. The souls can idenitfy one another by their scent that remains constant from body to body. Though she occasionally comments on appearances, the personality obviously factors in much more in how others seem to her.

The other main delightful quirk about the afterlife is the ability to manifest the mind's landscape physically. Thoughts can be created, from a lake to a mountain to a book the soul wants to read. Within the Obmil, this afterlife, the body cannot be injured and seems to have so much power. Not gonna lie, I would want to stay there and would try to get my friends to stay too. Of course, when you have a bad day, you literally will be stuck in a storm cloud of your own devising, but that's a small price to pay for the perks.

Alright, now that I'm done fangirling over the world building, I should probably discuss the plot a bit, shouldn't I? At the outset, I was a bit concerned that the book was heading for a stereotypical romance plot line: a rift between two best friends, a beautiful boy she feels inextricably drawn to (Oliver), a hot, angry boy who also seems to be part of her past (Trevor), and a love square between the four. Thankfully, this got cleared up pretty quickly and the characters did what was right for them, rather than conforming to tropes. Though the emotions become intense alarmingly quickly, it helped set the scene and conveyed the confusion Elliot felt being confronted with people who remembered her that she could not yet recall.

Elliot is a great character. She doesn't kick butt. She's sometimes weak. She's selfish, and sometimes a bully. All of that makes her who she is, and, even at her worst, I still felt for her and got her motivations. She manages to feel utterly real, especially in her struggle to find a sense of self, and her blithe unawareness of how she can steamroll others. Elliot wants to move on, hates having come back as a Third Timer, but she fears delving into her memories. Obviously, death in one's teen years doesn't signify a happy story.

The book alternates between the fantasy lanscape of Obmil and flashbacks to the characters' memories of their previous lives. This allows Sabatini to confront both gritty real life issues and psychological struggles. The flashbacks also explain why the characters feel the way they do about one another in the beginning, often for reasons even they don't know. This storytelling method adds a lot of tension to the tale and kept me flipping pages.

I dearly love Trevor. Oliver may be the nice one, though he shows some darker moods too (which I like), but I always have been drawn to the moody ones. Watching Trevor open up is delightful and he definitely puts hummingbirds in my stomach, let me tell you. What I love best is the way he changes the slogan on his t-shirt to match his emotions, generally with a sarcastic comment.

Ending books about the afterlife is generally pretty tricky, more so than with other genres perhaps. Sabatini's ending worked perfectly, I felt. I didn't anticipate quite the direction it would go in, and I really appreciated that. Nothing's wrapped up exactly, but it feels complete.

Kimberly Sabatini's debut blew me away and I know Touching the Surface is a book that I will be rereading. For a book with similar themes that does some wholly different things, check out Level 2 by fellow Apocalypsie Lenore Appelhans.

Was this review helpful to you? 
Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini was one of the most touching, beautiful books I have ever had the chance to read. It was marvelous in just about every way, and was a perfect debut from Kimberly Sabatini.

I loved Kimberly Sabatini‘s take on the afterlife. It was refreshing and new. Kimberly Sabatini managed to create this perfect balance in Touching the Surface – there were just the right amount of funny scenes to balance out the more serious, and it was such a treat to read. Kimberly Sabatini addresses so many issues in Touching the Surfance – the idea of death and the afterlife, love, what the true meaning of friendship is and much more. I really loved the message she was sending.

Trevor’s t-shirts were so funny. He had a different phrase on them in every scene ranging from things like “I reject your reality and substitute my own” to “I don’t discriminate. I hate everyone”. Touching the Surface had some of the most adorable scenes I have read in a very long time. I seriously had to reread some of them, while I sat there smiling to myself.

Kimberly Sabatini‘s prose is gorgeous. I sat there staring at the words on the page in awe, and felt the urge to write down so many phrases as the entire book was so quotable.

The characters were all so diverse from one another, and I just loved them all. Oliver, Trevor, Elliot, Mel, the whole gang was just great. I loved watching them all grow throughout the book, as they worked to find their paths. Trevor and Elliot were so interesting – as they started out as slightly unlikable characters. By the end, I adored both of them so much, and was sad to see their story end. Freddie and Mel were my other favorite characters of the book. Something about them was just so warm and nice.

Touching the Surface is the kind of book I can press into everyone’s hands, and regardless of their genre preference, know they will enjoy. While it has fantastical elements, it reads like a contemporary, and the characters create some of the most touching bonds of friendship throughout the course of the novel. I really cannot wait for another book from Kimberly Sabatini.
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Erica, Editor Reviewed by Erica, Editor July 21, 2012
Top 50 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (192)

A Debut That Will Take the World By Storm

Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini was one of the most touching, beautiful books I have ever had the chance to read. It was marvelous in just about every way, and was a perfect debut from Kimberly Sabatini.

I loved Kimberly Sabatini‘s take on the afterlife. It was refreshing and new. Kimberly Sabatini managed to create this perfect balance in Touching the Surface – there were just the right amount of funny scenes to balance out the more serious, and it was such a treat to read. Kimberly Sabatini addresses so many issues in Touching the Surfance – the idea of death and the afterlife, love, what the true meaning of friendship is and much more. I really loved the message she was sending.

Trevor’s t-shirts were so funny. He had a different phrase on them in every scene ranging from things like “I reject your reality and substitute my own” to “I don’t discriminate. I hate everyone”. Touching the Surface had some of the most adorable scenes I have read in a very long time. I seriously had to reread some of them, while I sat there smiling to myself.

Kimberly Sabatini‘s prose is gorgeous. I sat there staring at the words on the page in awe, and felt the urge to write down so many phrases as the entire book was so quotable.

The characters were all so diverse from one another, and I just loved them all. Oliver, Trevor, Elliot, Mel, the whole gang was just great. I loved watching them all grow throughout the book, as they worked to find their paths. Trevor and Elliot were so interesting – as they started out as slightly unlikable characters. By the end, I adored both of them so much, and was sad to see their story end. Freddie and Mel were my other favorite characters of the book. Something about them was just so warm and nice.

Touching the Surface is the kind of book I can press into everyone’s hands, and regardless of their genre preference, know they will enjoy. While it has fantastical elements, it reads like a contemporary, and the characters create some of the most touching bonds of friendship throughout the course of the novel. I really cannot wait for another book from Kimberly Sabatini.

Was this review helpful to you? 
 

User reviews

Average user rating from: 2 user(s)

Already have an account? or Create an account
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0  (2)
Characters 
 
5.0  (2)
Writing Style 
 
5.0  (2)
Touching the Surface is as much as about how to live life as it is about what happens after you die. Although Elliot, the main character, isn't always the most likable person, Kimberly Sabatini managed to write her in a way that made me root for Elliot the whole story. There was enough mystery in Elliot's journey that I wanted to read as fast as I could to the end, but the beautiful writing and images made me slow down and savor the language. A wonderful debut novel!
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Katie L. Carroll Reviewed by Katie L. Carroll December 06, 2012
Top 500 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (3)

A Wonderful Debut

Touching the Surface is as much as about how to live life as it is about what happens after you die. Although Elliot, the main character, isn't always the most likable person, Kimberly Sabatini managed to write her in a way that made me root for Elliot the whole story. There was enough mystery in Elliot's journey that I wanted to read as fast as I could to the end, but the beautiful writing and images made me slow down and savor the language. A wonderful debut novel!

Was this review helpful to you? 
Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini blew my freaking mind. Touching the Surface is one of those books where I was going “what the effffff” all the way through and still found myself sobbing at the end.

I’m at a loss to describe my feelings for Touching the Surface. It was just unbelievably beautiful and freaking confusing and just one of those books that is going to stick with me.

I loved that Touching the Surface was a book involving the afterlife, but wasn’t pushing any beliefs down my throat. Kimberly Sabatini creates an amazing world out of the afterlife and what a concept it is. I loved all the different aspects, like delving into memories of their past life. And being able to alter their afterlife with just a thought, whether it’s adding in a lake or just simply changing a phrase on a t-shirt.

Touching the Surface has a lot of heart. The characters all felt so real and their issues were just heartbreaking. Because even though it was such a strange and unfamiliar setting, the issues were so real – loss, fighting with family, with best friends, heartbreak, etc. It was a really relatable story, even though the setting was just so mind-blowingly weird/awesome.

My review of Touching the Surface is a bit strange, but Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini is a strange book – but in amazing way. The writing is beautiful, the story is heartbreaking, and despite my feelings of what in the world, I was just sobbing at the end of it all. It was hard for me to let go of the characters in Touching the Surface. Definitely be sure to pick it up!
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Tara Gonzalez Reviewed by Tara Gonzalez October 28, 2012
Top 50 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (68)

Hobbitsies Reviews: Beautiful writing, had me in tears

Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini blew my freaking mind. Touching the Surface is one of those books where I was going “what the effffff” all the way through and still found myself sobbing at the end.

I’m at a loss to describe my feelings for Touching the Surface. It was just unbelievably beautiful and freaking confusing and just one of those books that is going to stick with me.

I loved that Touching the Surface was a book involving the afterlife, but wasn’t pushing any beliefs down my throat. Kimberly Sabatini creates an amazing world out of the afterlife and what a concept it is. I loved all the different aspects, like delving into memories of their past life. And being able to alter their afterlife with just a thought, whether it’s adding in a lake or just simply changing a phrase on a t-shirt.

Touching the Surface has a lot of heart. The characters all felt so real and their issues were just heartbreaking. Because even though it was such a strange and unfamiliar setting, the issues were so real – loss, fighting with family, with best friends, heartbreak, etc. It was a really relatable story, even though the setting was just so mind-blowingly weird/awesome.

My review of Touching the Surface is a bit strange, but Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini is a strange book – but in amazing way. The writing is beautiful, the story is heartbreaking, and despite my feelings of what in the world, I was just sobbing at the end of it all. It was hard for me to let go of the characters in Touching the Surface. Definitely be sure to pick it up!

Was this review helpful to you? 
 
Powered by JReviews

LATEST YABC BLOG POSTS - BLOG TOURS, ANNOUNCEMENTS, AND GIVEAWAYS

  • #ReadISLA Flashback: Lola And The Boy Next Door

      Hey guys, today we're hanging out with Lola and Cricket!   Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion...she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit--more sparkly, more fun, more wild--the better. But even though Lola’s style is ...

  • YA Authors as YAs: The Megan Whitmer Edition + Giveaway (US/Canada)

      Welcome to the latest YA Authors as YAs interview! Our goal? To prove that your favorite authors — no matter how AWESOME and COOL you think they are — were once awkward, weird, and they geeked out about fandoms and guilty-pleasure music JUST LIKE YOU when they were teens. ...

  • Check out the trailer for PADDINGTON!

      PADDINGTON   We're so happy to bring you the trailer for PADDINGTON, based on the beloved children's book by Michael Bond, arriving this Christmas!   You know you need a good dose of *bathroom* humor this morning, right? Enjoy! And keep your eyes peeled for PA ...

  • It's live!! Cover Reveal: Charmed by Michelle Krys + Giveaway (International)

      Welcome to this week's cover reveal! Today we're super excited to celebrate the cover reveal for CHARMED by Michelle Krys, releasing May 26, 2015 from Delacorte Press/Random House Children's Books. Before we get to the cover, here's a note from Michelle:   ...

  • #ReadISLA Flashback: Anna And The French Kiss

    Bonjour ami! Je suis heureux que vous soyez ici, j'aime votre visage!   Okay, so, my French is a little rusty, but fingers crossed that I just said,     Hello friends! I'm glad you're here, I like your face!   Today, w ...

  • #ReadISLA

      Hello YABC! I had a BLAST hanging out with Isla and Josh this weekend! See? They said to say, Bonjour! My initial thoughts? ISLA is intense, heart-wrenching romantic perfection! Have you checked out the ISLA chapter sample? If not, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?! ...

  • It's live! Cover Reveal: Soulprint by Megan Miranda (US only)

      Happy Almost 4th of July, YABCers! Today we're super excited to reveal the cover for SOULPRINT by Megan Miranda releasing February 3, 2015 from Bloomsbury. Before we get to the cover, here's a note from Megan:   Hi there, YABC readers! I’m so excite ...

  • Giveaway: The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare Prize Pack Giveaway (International)

      Today we have a guest post giveaway by M.G. Buehrlen, author of THE 57 LIVES OF ALEX WAYFARE. Go forth and enter and win! Hey YABCers! Today feels like a pretty fine day to have a giveaway. And who better to give awesome things away to than the awesome reviewers who help spread ...

  • Excerpt Reveal: Fog of Forgetting by G.A. Morgan

      Hey YABCers! Today we bring you a special treat – a chapter excerpt from THE FOG OF FORGETTING by G.A. Morgan! So grab a cup of your favorite caffeinated beverage, sit back, and enjoy a few pages of 100% totally free fantasy reading.  Before we get to the excerpt, here's a bit ...

  • #ReadISLA Campaign

    Hello Fellow YABCers! I am BEYOND excited that YABC was asked to participate in the #ReadISLA campaign as we eagerly await, ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER, the third companion novel in Stephanie Perkins' ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS series!   From the glittering streets of Manh ...

  • It's live!! Cover Reveal: Color Song by Victoria Strauss + Giveaway (US/Canada)

      Happy July, YABCers! Today we're super excited to celebrate the cover reveal for COLOR SONG by Victoria Strauss, releasing September 16, 2014 from Skyscape. Before we get to the cover, here's a note from Victoria:   Hello, YABC! I’m thrilled to be sharin ...

  • Giveaway: One Death, Nine Stories by Marc Aronson & Charles R. Smith Jr. (US & Canada Only)

    One Death, Nine Stories by Marc Aronson & Charles R. Smith Jr. (editors) Release Date: 8/26/14   About the Book How could one teenage boy’s life elicit other kids’ first experiences — even after he dies? Nine interconnected stories from nine top YA writers. Kev’s t ...

View more blog entries

Latest Book Listings Added

Category: Young Adult Indie
In the hierarchy of magical beings witches reign supreme. Unlike trolls who need rocks to cast their spells or mermaids...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Young Adult Indie
Some kids are just born in a tangle. At sixteen years old, Sawyer Jackson hasn’t seen much beyond...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Young Adult Indie
Shardheld, the third and final book in the great Shardheld Saga, epic fantasy for both Y.A. and Adults. Muus’...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Lauren has a secret. Colby has a problem. But when they find each other, everything falls into place. In alternating...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Wish You Weren't
Category: Kids Indie
Marten doesn't believe in the power of wishes. None of his have ever come true. So when he makes an...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
From the bestselling author of Catching Jordan comes a brand new contemporary YA you won't forget. The finish line is...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
From debut author Amanda Maciel comes a provocative and unforgettable novel, inspired by real-life incidents, about a teenage girl who...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Young Adult Indie
Will Moore has been Missy Jamison’s best friend for years, and until recently, she hadn’t considered going "there" with him...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
From the remarkable imagination of acclaimed artist Jim Di Bartolo and the exquisite pen of bestselling author Kiersten White comes...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
In this astonishing memoir, Paige tells a story that is both deeply personal and completely universal—one that will resonate deeply...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Kids Fiction
When Penelope the Fox drops her heart into the sea, she’s swept off on a perilous journey, dodging sharks and...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Sixteen year old Emma Cartwright leaves her family's rice plantation after a slave is beaten to death. Determined to help...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Fans of Sarah Dessen will love this heartbreaking story about family, loss, and the joys and disappointments of first...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
In a parallel universe, the classic bad boy falls for the class science geek. One minute Danny was running from...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Sixteen-year-old Selena Fallon is a dreamer. Not a daydreamer, but an I-see-the-future kind of dreamer. Normally, this is not a...
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Kids Fiction
Ruff Ruffman is having a bad day. First, his fancy pants get stolen, then he gets a message from his...
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
Category: Kids Fiction
Monkey and Elephant are very good friends, very good friends with nothing on the agenda. So they decide to go...
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
Transformation, empowerment, love and music come together in the book, Beautiful One. Elizabeth Ryan is a beautiful, shy, naïve high...
 
0.0
 
5.0 (2)
Category: Young Adult Indie
Landry gets pushed into trying out for the American Ingénue reality show modeling competition with her two best friends. She...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Amberlin.DDestiny.jpg
Category: Young Adult Indie
"Of all bad men religious bad men are the worst." C. S. Lewis Amberlin Gentry doesn’t feel all...
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)