About the Book
A year ago, Millie lost her legs and her filmmaking career in a failed suicide attempt. Just when she’s sure the credits have rolled on her life story, she gets a second chance with the Arcadia Project: a secret organization that polices the traffic to and from a parallel reality filled with creatures straight out of myth and fairy tales.
For her first assignment, Millie is tasked with tracking down a missing movie star who also happens to be a nobleman of the Seelie Court. To find him, she’ll have to smooth-talk Hollywood power players and uncover the surreal and sometimes terrifying truth behind the glamour of Tinseltown. But stronger forces than just her inner demons are sabotaging her progress, and if she fails to unravel the conspiracy behind the noble’s disappearance, not only will she be out on the streets, but the shattering of a centuries-old peace could spark an all-out war between worlds.
This book was sent for me to review by the publisher.
Borderline by Mishell Baker is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. It’s also one of the most unique, and one of the most important. So, heads up for this one, folks. It needs to be read.
I’m going to get a little personal in this review, but I can’t really help myself. My brother is the reason why I’m so into disabilities in the genre. I’ve talked about him before, and for those who are curious, it’s probably pretty easy to do a search and see what I’ve said. There’s no reason to restate it all here. However, my brother can’t read anymore, which is really tragic. This is the first book I’ve come across in a long, long time (if ever) that makes me keenly aware of that tragedy. This is the book that I wish my brother could read, because this is the book that shows that someone like him can be amazing, too – just like he wanted. Millicent Roper is the protagonist that my brother Rob would have related to in ways that he probably hasn’t ever been able to relate to anyone.
Millie is a fantastic protagonist, and she’s an important protagonist. She’s a wheelchair bound amputee with borderline personality disorder. She is rare as far as protagonists go, because there really isn’t anyone else out there like her. However, Baker has made her so incredibly realistic. She’s such a vibrant character, and a lot of what makes her tick is explained so not only do I have a healthy dose of respect for this fantastic character, but I also really appreciate the window into her world, and what makes her tick. My brother Rob always wanted people to realize that someone like him can be important, too, and I think Millie is exactly what he wanted to see in the genre. She’s powerful, capable, intelligent, vibrant, and important. She’s different, and she’s different in a way that makes her one of the most fascinating characters I’ve ever read.
In fact, just about everyone in the book is atypical somehow, though in many cases readers aren’t given exact reasons why a lot of characters are the way they are, which I actually enjoyed. The privacy was wonderful, and it’s something that made me look at the characters as people rather than whatever it is that they are diagnosed with. It also makes some of the interactions in the book really unique because you never know what is going to set some people off. There are a lot of details, as well, a lot of small points of behavior that many of us (myself included) probably don’t think about act as triggers to certain people or in certain situations. There are hard rules that people have to follow, which made a lot of these interactions that much more interesting, but it also felt natural to the world and situations that Baker has created.
These rules worked really well to help Baker create her fascinating urban fantasy landscape. There really aren’t any fluid ideas here. When Baker creates something, she really goes all out. There are rules. There are benefits and drawbacks. There is a strict parameter for action and behavior, and there are punishments when those behaviors aren’t followed. It’s really well done, and I absolutely loved how detailed and solid the book felt as a result of that. I wasn’t just reading about some world that is like ours. I was actually living in a real world as Baker created it. It was tangible. I could touch it, smell it, feel it.
The plot in Borderline is just about as interesting as every other part of the book. It’s a mystery that involves plenty of investigation, partnering up, awkward situations, and a lot of information that is uncovered along the way. Millie has an eye for details, and it’s these details that often end up playing a huge role in various plot changes or Ah Ha moments. Her interactions with the mundane and magical worlds is also unique to her, and gives her a one of a kind view of this world that Baker has developed.
The Arcadia Project is a shadowy, sort of big brother feeling organization that slowly unfolds along with the plot. As with most parts of this book, readers learn things slowly, in phases, along the way. We discover as we go, not just regarding the plot and mystery, but also about the characters that Baker has created.
Everything about Borderline is superb. Incredible writing, fantastic plot, and some of the best characters I’ve ever read. This is the book that I wish my brother could read. It’s the book that he’s wanted his whole life – the book that shows that people like him can be important too.
Bravo, Mishell Baker. Bravo.