Book Review: Borderline by Mishell Baker
I'm afraid I'm not going to be able to adequately write about this book because it's quickly become one of those reads that has merged a little with my DNA. How do you reasonably talk about a book like that?
An inventive urban fantasy, this novel features a heroine who has Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and is a double amputee. Languishing in a psychiatric center after a failed suicide attempt, Millie -- once a promising film director --is invited to join the Arcadia Project, a mysterious organization that manages relationships between this world and the fey.
Baker's writing is wonderful: with the Los Angeles setting and our cast of misfits, there's a noir-y feel to this urban fantasy that makes it read fresh and fast. Baker manages to do some incredible world-building in a deft, readable manner; even though our heroine was new to this world, too, neither of us were subjected to info dumps. And while there were moments when I had to sit impatiently for the reveal, it was in a good way, not in a sloppy writing way. This book had all the emotional elements I want in a compelling read -- romance and desire, intrigue and double cross, sense of place and landscape -- but nothing manifested in an anticipated way.
Meeting Millie, as it were, was a lightning strike for me. At the risk of oversharing, my experience with BPD has been limited and I've only had a vague understanding of it and how it impacts me and my behavior. But Baker's articulation of BPD -- including treatment -- was so illuminating, it literally introduced me to things that therapy hadn't and reassured me that the rough parts of myself that I despise need not be hated. Millie is a deeply imperfect and flawed heroine who makes for compelling reading and her missteps and corrections reassured me that I can be okay despite my own failings.
I actually listened to half this book as an audiobook before diving in and reading, and the audiobook production is great. I actually still hear Arden Hammersmith, the audiobook narrator, in my head while reading certain characters.
Although the first book in a trilogy, this one has a great ending that closes up plots so you need not be on the hook to read the next two books -- but you're going to really, really want to. I selected this as my book club's September read and at least two members went out and read the remaining two books immediately upon finishing this one, they -- like me -- were hooked on Millie and her world.
Author: Mishell Baker
Genre: Fiction (Fantasy / Los Angeles / Mental Health / Faeries / Mystery / Film Industry / Friendship)
Publisher/Publication Date: Saga Press (3/1/2016)
Source: My public library